MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Clayton Kershaw took a perfect game through seven innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers in his season debut, dominating the Minnesota Twins with 13 strikeouts in 21 batters on Wednesday.
Manager Dave Roberts pulled Kershaw after 80 pitches on a cold afternoon at Target Field. Alex Vesia relieved him for the eighth and gave up Minnesota’s first hit, a single by Gary Sánchez.
Starting his 15th year in the major leagues, all with the Dodgers, Kershaw struck out the side in the sixth. He fanned every Twins batter at least once except Gio Urshela, who grounded out to third and flied out to right.
Twins star Byron Buxton struck out all three times he faced Kershaw, who was making his first career start at Target Field.
Urshela hit a sharp grounder up the middle with two outs in the seventh that skidded under Kershaw’s glove as he tried to backhand the ball, but shortstop Trea Turner was shaded far enough left to reach it and make a spot-on throw for the out to end the inning.
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Kershaw, who re-signed with the Dodgers for $17 million this year after missing more than two months in 2021 with inflammation in his left forearm, was slotted fifth in the rotation out of the gate to give his arm more time to build up strength in light of the lockout-limited spring training schedule.
With his slider in midseason form, Kershaw had the heavy presence of Dodgers fans in attendance for the rare game at Minnesota on their feet often as the anticipation of Kershaw’s feat kept building. Kershaw threw a no-hitter on June 18, 2014, against Colorado.
Those same blue-clad customers booed when Vesia was spotted jogging in from the bullpen, with one of them sitting behind the plate yelling, “He had a perfect game!”