Clayton Kershaw knew immediately that one thing was flawed.
Earlier than the beginning of the underside of the fifth inning Thursday afternoon at Oracle Park, Kershaw was throwing warm-up pitches when he stated he “felt something kind of lock up” in his decrease again.
It was a direct purple flag for a left-hander with a historical past of again issues, together with a month-long absence earlier this season due to SI joint irritation that brought about decrease again ache.
Kershaw tried to throw one other warm-up pitch, however was clearly nonetheless in discomfort.
He motioned for a coach, uttered “It’s my back” as he walked off the mound, then made his approach slowly to the dugout, showing to grimace as he disappeared down the tunnel to the clubhouse.
The Dodgers nonetheless went on to beat the San Francisco Giants 5-3 on Thursday, finishing their first four-game sweep in San Francisco since 1977 to complete 7-1 on a two-city journey.
However Kershaw’s harm — which the group described as low again ache — overshadowed all of it, dealing an already banged-up pitching employees one other potential blow to one in all its most necessary starters.
“Hard to tell right now,” Kershaw stated of his harm. “We’ll see more tomorrow. Just more back stuff.”
How annoyed was the 34-year-old veteran?
“A fair amount,” he stated with a sigh.
Kershaw’s again has been troublesome for years, resulting in injured listing stints in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.
It was again ache following a cross-country flight in Could that triggered Kershaw’s month-long injured listing stint earlier this season.
Supervisor Dave Roberts stated Kershaw will get “a slew of tests” Friday in Los Angeles.
Whereas Roberts wasn’t positive of the severity of this harm, or whether or not Kershaw must go on the injured listing, he acknowledged there was some concern “given it’s his back, which has been problematic at times.”
“We just won’t know more until we get some tests,” Roberts added.
Kershaw’s early exit — which adopted 4 sturdy innings through which he’d given up his solely two runs (one in all which was unearned) on a two-run house run to J.D. Davis within the second inning — additionally got here two days after a commerce deadline that noticed the Dodgers (72-33) keep comparatively quiet.
With inflated costs for a lot of stars, particularly top-of-the-market beginning pitchers, the group gave up its pursuit of a number of potential commerce targets.
As an alternative, they made just one pitching addition in center reliever Chris Martin. And so they banked on their hope that, as different injured pitchers comparable to Walker Buehler, Dustin Could and Blake Treinen get wholesome down the stretch, their employees would solidify itself as a championship-caliber assortment.
Any long-term absence to Kershaw would put a significant kink in these plans, with the beginning of the playoffs a bit greater than two months away.
“Certainly the calendar is not on our side,” Roberts stated. “But we’ll see after tomorrow, after the results, the tests, and also see how he feels.”
Added Kershaw: “Hopefully, I don’t wake up too bad.”
Kershaw’s again wasn’t the one factor to flare up Thursday.
With the Dodgers main 4-2 within the backside of the sixth inning, Giants reliever Jarlín García twice mimicked the Dodgers’ head-tap celebration — through which their hitters faucet their helmet with a closed fist after getting a success.
García first did it after placing out Cody Bellinger. When James Outman was rung up for the third out within the subsequent at-bat, García not solely did it once more, but in addition pointed at Mookie Betts within the on-deck circle.
Betts stated postgame he hadn’t stated something to García through the at-bat, however began strolling towards the pitcher after the inning ended.
“I just said, what’s your problem?” stated Betts, whose three-run house run within the fourth inning had given the Dodgers the lead. “I don’t know. I was just standing on deck. You have to ask him, I have no idea.”
Within the ensuing back-and-forth, García was ejected, as was Giants supervisor Gabe Kapler, who bought right into a heated argument with first base umpire Phil Cuzzi.
“At the time of the game and the score of the game and the inning, it didn’t really make a lot of sense to a lot of us,” stated Trea Turner, whose fandom of the film “The Wolf of Wall Street” was the origin of the Dodgers’ head-tap routine, which copies a scene from the movie.
Roberts stated he was shocked by García’s antics, noting nearly each group has some hit celebration.
“Mookie is a guy that does everything the right way and has never had any intention to show any opponent up,” Roberts stated. “He was taken aback. He was shocked. As was I.”
Betts stated he had no prior historical past with García, aside from going through him on the plate.
“I guess he felt a certain way,” Betts stated, extra fired up throughout his postgame scrum than standard. “I don’t know. You have to ask him.”
García instructed reporters he wasn’t attempting to be disrespectful. Kapler, nevertheless, conceded his participant “probably crossed the line in that situation.”
Nonetheless, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Dodgers had been head-tapping once more, when Turner hit a solo house run within the high of the seventh that helped put the sport out of attain.
As Turner rounded third base — proper in entrance of the Giants’ dugout — he banged his helmet together with his fist.
The Dodgers dugout erupted in an exaggerated model of the celebration, as nicely, a response Betts stated “for sure” had further motivation behind it.
“You started it,” he stated. “I’m not going to back down at that point. I’m not going to run away from it. I’m not going to encourage it, but I’m not going to run away.”