Clayton Kershaw Was Close to a Perfect Game Before Being Pulled Out

Clayton Kershaw, who plays for the LA Dodgers, was having a good run in Minnesota against the Twins when manager, Dave Roberts, decided to take him out of the game. Kershaw had just made it through seven perfect innings with 13 strikeouts and was going for the Major League Baseball’s 24th perfect game in history and the first one since 2012.

Clayton Kershaw during the game against the Twins
Clayton Kershaw Was Close to a Perfect Game Before Being Pulled Out

Clayton Kershaw Was Relieved By Alex Vesia After 80 Pitches

After Roberts took Clayton Kershaw out of the game after 80 pitches, his reliever, Alex Vesia, quickly gave up a single to catcher, Gary Sanchez, ending the hopes of a combined perfect game. That is hardly a surprise since a combined perfect game has never happened in the major leagues. This only shows that, to the disappointment of the nostalgists, the days when pitchers threw nine full innings are long gone. Even so, Roberts’s decision seemed mystifying to many because Kershaw didn’t seem exhausted at all. Still, the coach is known for being overly cautious and Kershaw’s removal should not have been that surprising.

Clayton Kershaw Was In His First Game for the Regular Season

Usually, starting pitchers are kept to short pitch counts during the first few starts of a season because throwing a baseball really hard is very tasking and it takes a while to build up the stamina necessary to do it repeatedly. Because of an owners’ lockout, spring schedules were shorter and Kershaw managed to throw just 11⅓ innings during his four appearances.

The stadium during the game of The Dodgers VS The Twins
Clayton Kershaw Was Close to a Perfect Game Before Being Pulled Out

The game against the Twins was Clayton Kershaw’s first of the regular season and it looked like pushing his arm beyond its limits was something coach Roberts was not willing to risk, especially given his age and recent injury history. Not risking a pitcher’s health for a single moment of glory is hardly surprising. An example of what the ramifications can be is when the Mets allowed Johan Santana to throw 134 pitches for the June 2012 no-hitter. Back then, the glorious event also marked Santana’s end as an effective pitcher. He did just ten more starts and went on the disabled list after that, to never pitch again.