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In his first start of the 2022 season, 34-year-old Clayton Kershaw turned back the clock about a decade ago to when he was unquestionably the most dominant pitcher in baseball.
The Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander and three-time Cy Young award winner tossed seven perfect innings Wednesday afternoon in a 7-0 Dodgers victory.
Kershaw didn't get the opportunity to complete the 24th perfect game in MLB history when he was taken out in the bottom of the eighth inning after throwing 80 pitches, 53 of them for strikes.
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Leaning heavily on his slider, Kershaw struck out 13 of the 21 Twins batters he faced.
Lucky 13 Ks for Kershaw in his 2022 debut. pic.twitter.com/HikWrlDINJ
— MLB (@MLB) April 13, 2022
After a conversation with manager Dave Roberts, Kershaw was all smiles in the dugout when he was replaced by reliever Alex Vesia in the eighth. Because of the shortened spring training, the ace lefty had pitched just 11 2/3 innings in four spring outings. So it wasn't a huge surprise to see him pulled with a perfect game intact.
Roberts faced a similar decision six years ago when he pulled starter Rich Hill after 89 pitches and seven perfect innings against the Miami Marlins. That perfect game ended in the eighth -- just as this one did.
Vesia retired the first Twins batter, but gave up a line drive single to catcher Gary Sanchez to end the bid for MLB's first-ever combined perfect game. Justin Bruihl pitched the ninth to complete the one-hit shutout.
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The last pitcher to toss a perfect game in the majors was Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners, who did it in September 2012. The Dodgers have had only one in their history, by Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in 1965.
While he hasn't thrown a perfect game, Kershaw does have a no-hitter to his credit, dominating the Colorado Rockies on June 18, 2014 -- a game in which he set a record for the most strikeouts in a no-hitter with 15.
April 11: The Baltimore Orioles' Jorge Mateo (3) slides home in the second inning past Milwaukee Brewers catcher Victor Caratini following a single by Cedric Mullins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles won the game, 2-0.
April 9: St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong tags out the Pittsburgh Pirates' Ke'Bryan Hayes after leaping to catch a high throw during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won the game, 6-2.
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April 8: Chicago White Sox second baseman Josh Harrison (5) falls over the Detroit Tigers' Jeimer Candelario after he makes a throw to first to complete a double play in the sixth inning at Comerica Park. The Tigers won the game, 5-4.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw taken out after pitching seven perfect innings against Twins
Abreu, Hendriks help White Sox hold off Rays 3-2 .
CHICAGO (AP) — José Abreu homered for the first time this season, closer Liam Hendriks left the bases loaded in the ninth inning and the Chicago White Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 Saturday. Michael Kopech threw five solid innings, and Yasmani Grandal singled away from the shift to put Chicago ahead in the sixth. Eloy Jiménez and Tim Anderson added two hits apiece for the White Sox, who have won six of seven and are off to a 6-2 start for the first time since 2016 despite several key injuries. Hendriks struck out Taylor Walls in the ninth for his fourth save after intentionally walking pinch-hitter Ji-Man Choi to load the bases.