Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has a 1.47 earned-run average in spring training… (Lenny Ignelzi / Associated…)
Questions being in short supply in this uneventful Dodgers spring training, attention can always turn to those few things they are comfortable with.
And there is no better place to turn for a little preseason comfort than a returning Cy Young winner.
Clayton Kershaw took to the mound Sunday in Phoenix against the Brewers in what figures as his second-to-the-last start of the spring, and did something he’s done only once all spring -- give up an earned run. Two even.
The Dodgers otherwise fell uneventfully, 7-1, to the host Brewers, Kershaw giving up the two runs on six hits and a pair of walks in six innings of work.
More encouraging, however, was Kershaw’s proclamation afterward that he has grown increasingly happy with his changeup this spring, a pitch he started to use last season, though not with any regularity.
If he can become more comfortable regularly mixing in the off-speed pitch with his fastball, curve and slider, that’s only more bad news for the rest of the National League’s hitters.
“It’ll be there when I need it,” Kershaw told reporters in Phoenix.
And more potential bad news for opposing hitters: “Physically, this is the best I’ve felt.”
Kershaw gave up his first run to the left-handed hitting Norichika Aoki, a rookie outfielder the Brewers signed from Japan in the offseason. Reportedly a contact hitter, Aoki hit a solo home run off Kershaw after a 10-pitch at-bat in the third inning.
The Brewers added one more in the fifth after Rafael Neda singled and was doubled home by Rickie Weeks.
Kershaw went one more inning, leaving with a 1.47 earned-run average this spring.
The two relievers who followed Kershaw, each still in contention for making the club, both struggled.
Scott Rice, bidding to earn a spot as a second left-hander, had been pitching very well, having not given up a run in five appearances. Sunday, however, in two-thirds of an inning, he gave up three runs on three hits and a pair of walks.
Josh Lindblom, who has options left, struck out three in his 1 1/3 innings, but also gave up two runs on three hits.
The Dodgers managed only three hits against six Milwaukee pitchers. Their only run came in the fifth inning following walks to A.J. Ellisand Kershaw by John Axford.Jerry Hairston Jr., back in the lineup after treatment of an inflamed shoulder, singled to load the bases and Ellis scored on aTony Gwynn Jr. sacrifice fly.
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