Clayton Kershaw’s ‘special’ All-Star Game

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Dodgers made their mark in the 92nd MLB All-Star Game early. It was the first inning that the Dodgers left their imprint on the rest of the game. First up was longtime Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, getting the nod for the National League.

All Kershaw did was pick off one of the best players in the game and followed that up with an impressive strikeout of another elite slugger. Mookie Betts, the star outfielder for the Dodgers, drove in the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning. Unfortunately, the game turned in favor of the American League, thanks to home runs by Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton.

The American League beat the National League, 3-2. Those three runs that the American League produced didn’t come against Kershaw. Kershaw only pitched that first inning, but it was a spectacular performance that really showcased why the future Hall of Famer remains a dominant pitcher. 

The first batter that Kershaw had the luxury of doing business with was Los Angeles Angels international icon Shohei Ohtani. Good luck. As it was, Ohtani wound up lacing a single to leftfield. Kershaw got his revenge shortly after making his famous pickoff move to nail Ohtani off first base for the first out of the game.

Kershaw was able to get Ohtani out because the dual-threat player appeared to be caught flat-footed and leaning in the wrong direction. After his stint as the starting pitcher, Kershaw talked about going up against Ohtani and that wicked pickoff move he used to get him out.

But first, Kershaw let out in a press conference what it was like being out on the mound on his home turf at Dodger Stadium after being tapped as the National League’s starter.   

“It was fun,” Kershaw said. “It was — I tried to take a minute at the beginning to take it all in and look around and — which I usually never do. And I think the moment itself, being here at Dodger Stadium, a place where I’ve been now for 15 years, and to get to do something like this with the best in the world, is really fun, and it was also really personal for me and my family, everybody. I’m excited it’s over. I did okay. I got out of there with no runs.”

After Kershaw had his singular moment to bask in the surrealness of having his family and friends watch him pitch, everyone else was waiting for when the three-time Cy Young award winner would go toe-to-toe with Ohtani. Kershaw didn’t have to wait too long.

Ohtani represented the American League as the official first batter of the game. The goal for Kershaw was to keep the ball in the park. He succeeded in doing that, holding Ohtani to a blooper single in the outfield. Ohtani is a dangerous first-pitch hitter. Kershaw said he was not about to send something down to home plate that the Angels’ slugger could send into the bleachers.

“I just faced him on Friday, too,” Kershaw said. “Yeah, I mean, you can’t throw the first pitch of an All-Star Game as a breaking ball (laughter). He didn’t hit it over the fence, so it was a win and we can move on. But yeah, you kind of had to give him a heater there, I think just for everything. Had to do it.”

On that pickoff move, Kershaw said he was more or less trying to get comfortable.

“I just kind of lobbed it over there,” Kershaw remarked. “I didn’t know what pitch to throw yet, so just kind of giving myself a second and I got him. Pitch count safer. It was good.”

Kershaw had to feel twice as good when he struck out New York Yankees star Aaron Judge as the American League’s next batter. Kershaw finished his day’s work by allowing the one hit to Ohtani and coming up with the one big strikeout.  

Soaking it all in, Kershaw said playing in the game is something he’ll cherish.

“I think starting an All-Star Game is a really special thing,” said Kershaw. “I think being at the All-Star Game, in general, is just more important. You get to be around the guys and you get to see it. I think because it was at Dodger Stadium, that’s why I wanted to do it so much. This place means a lot to me. I’ve had a lot of great times here. I’ve had some rough times here, too. But overall, this place is just super special for me, and to get to do this here more than anything is why it was so special to me.”