LOS ANGELES — Two things Clayton Kershaw clearly hates: Being on the disabled list and having pitch restrictions while on the mound.
The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ left-hander might be done with both when he takes the mound Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kershaw will be making his third start since coming off the disabled list for his most recent back injury and has been trending in a positive direction.
What Kershaw would like to see is more of the offense the Dodgers showed in Monday’s series opener
Tasked with slowing that offense at Dodger Stadium, while matching Kershaw pitch for pitch, will be Pirates right-hander Ian Nova.
If Kershaw is almost all the way back on top after an injury, Nova is there already. In four starts since coming off the DL because of a sprained right finger, Nova is 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA.
Kershaw is only this far along in his return fr om the DL because the Dodgers pulled a last-minute switch on June 23, and had him pitch in New York against the Mets instead of with Triple-A Oklahoma City on a rehab outing.
Kershaw threw 55 pitches against the Mets, giving up two runs on five hits over three innings. On June 28 against the Chicago Cubs, Kershaw was back at it, throwing 68 pitches while giving up one run on four hits over five innings.
A natural progression would have Kershaw at about 80 pitches on Tuesday, but Kershaw has a way of getting more out of himself when the situation requires it.
“I’ve proven that I’m healthy,” Kershaw told reporters after his most recent start. “So now
Nova has thrown between 86 and 94 pitches in his four starts since coming off the DL and has given up one or no runs in three of those outings. The one where he did not was on Wednesday at New York. But he did hold the Mets to three runs over six innings, keeping the Pirates close enough to put together a ninth-inning rally for a victory.
That victory was part of a Pirates run where they won four of six games and took series at New York and San Diego. Sure there was a five-game losing streak before that, but going back even further, the Pirates had won four of five.
So even though they were roughed up by the Dodgers on Monday, the Pirates have learned the value of resiliency.
“We’re well aware of what we need to improve upon,” manager Clint Hurdle said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’re well aware of our monthly progress and then some of our monthly challenges. Love the fact that the game brings attention to specific areas, daily, weekly, monthly, and then I love to watch how some guys are able to fight and battle and work through it.”
Up next is a challenge against Kershaw
Nova knows his way around the Dodgers, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts, one in each of the previous two seasons.The Oakland Athletics were down to their last strike when Stephen Piscotty hit a tying home run off closer Brad Hand, who was San Diego’s only All-Star last year.
Jed Lowie then hit a two-run shot with two outs in the 10th to lift the Athletics to a 4-2 victory Tuesday night.
Hand was trying for his 22nd save when Piscotty drove a 2-2 fastball into the second deck, his fifth.
”That’s a guy you don’t typically think you’re going to string some hits together against and you’re down to your last pitch and the next thing it’s a homer,” manager Bob Melvin said. ”That’s about as big a momentum shift as you’re going to get, when you’re a strike away from losing and all of a sudden now you potentially have got their closer out of the game and bullpen-wise maybe we’re a little better set.”
Against a pitcher like Hand, ”you’re probably only going to get one pitch to hit and you don’t want to miss it,” Piscotty said. ”He did a good job of getting ahead but in my mind I was just waiting for that one, and luckily I got it and didn’t miss it.”
Piscotty took a 1-2 slider to even the count before homering.
”I saw that one really good and felt confident. Sometimes when you have a good take like that it locks you in
”We were one out away from winning the ballgame. I made a mistake, they came back and hit a home run and then the tenth inning didn’t go our way,” Hand said. ”It was down, it was just inner third. A little more in would have been better, but it wasn’t necessarily a terrible pitch, but he made a good swing on it.”
Said manager Andy Green: ”I’m sure if he had it back, he’d throw a slider instead of a fastball. I also think he wouldn’t mean to throw the fastball right wh ere he threw it. Brad’s been good all year. I’m not the least bit worried about him. He’s resilient as anybody, and it’s one of those days, it’s a tough loss. It one of those that stings late because we did have it. One strike away, and those games sting.”
Adam Cimber (3-3) allowed Marcus Semien’s one-out single in the 10th and retired Chad Pinder on a fly to right before Lowrie connected for his 10th homer.
”I was just looking for something over the plate that I could square up and he made a mistake right down the middle,” Lowrie said.
Rookie Lou Trivino (4-1) pitched two innings for the win. Blake Treinen pitched the 10th for his 16th save.
Padres rookie left-hander hander Eric Lauer had been in line for the victory after pitching six strong innings. He settled down after allowing an unearned run in the second and held the A’s to one run and three hits while matching his strikeout high with seven. He walked two.
The Padres had given Lauer just enough support in the first two innings against Paul Blackburn. Jose Pirela brought in a run in the first on a grounder and Raffy Lopez doubled with one out in the second to bring in rookie Franmil Reyes
Blackburn allowed two runs and four hits in five innings, struck out four and walked two.
The A’s scored in the second with some help from replay. Khris Davis drew a leadoff walk and was originally called out on a force play on Matt Olson’s ground ball. The A’s challenged and the call was overturned, with shortstop Freddy Galvis given an error because his foot wasn’t on second base when he took the throw. Davis advanced on Mark Canha’s single and scored when Piscotty grounded into a double play.
The Padres are in a stretch in which they will play just five of 28 games at home. After going 5-5 on a trip through Miami, St. Louis and Atlanta, the Padres are home for just two games before heading out for a seven-game trip to San Francisco and Texas. Then they’re home for three games against Pittsburgh before a six-game trip to Oakland and Arizona.
Padres: Have cut short OF Franchy Cordero’s rehab assignment after he felt something in his right elbow. Manager Andy Green said it’s ”highly unlikely” Cordero is back soon.
Athletics: RHP Frankie Montas (3-1, 2.67 ERA) is scheduled to start the finale of the two-game series.
Padres: Rookie LHP Joey Lucchesi (3-2, 3.23) is scheduled to return from more than a month on the DL with a strained right hip.