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Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw pulled after seven perfect innings in win vs. Twins

Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw pulled after seven perfect innings in win vs. Twins
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw, shown May 19, 2021, was pulled after just 80 pitches, dominating the Minnesota Twins with 13 strikeouts against 21 batters. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

April 13 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw came close to perfection in his season debut against the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday.

Kershaw had a perfect game through seven innings and looked ready to go the distance, but he was surprisingly pulled after just 80 pitches. He dominated the Twins with 13 strikeouts against 21 batters in the Dodgers' 7-0 win.

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When the time came for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to relieve him, the 34-year-old Kershaw didn't resist the move.

"Those are selfish goals," Kershaw said. "We're trying to win. That's really all we're here for."

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Roberts talked with Kershaw after the sixth, and the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner said his preference was to throw one more inning with an 85-pitch limit.

"I would have loved to have stayed, but bigger things, man, bigger things," Kershaw said.

Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia replaced Kershaw for the eighth and was greeted with boos from the crowd of 17,101 at Target Field. Vesia gave up the Twins' first and only hit, which was a one-out single by Gary Sanchez.

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Roberts has pulled a starting pitcher in similar fashion before. Walker Buehler was yanked after six no-hit innings in May 2018, and Rich Hill left with a blister after seven perfect innings in September 2016.

The Dodgers skipper also removed Ross Stripling after 7 1/3 no-hit innings in April 2016.

"Those guys make it tough on me," Roberts said.

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Kershaw's latest outing was his 66th career double-digit strikeout game in 380 regular-season appearances.

Kershaw, who re-signed with the Dodgers for $17 million this year, missed more than two months last season because of inflammation in his left forearm. He was slotted fifth in the team's rotation to start the 2022 campaign in light of the previous injury and the limited spring training schedule.

"Blame it on the lockout. Blame it on me not picking up a baseball until January," Kershaw said. "My slider was horrible the last two innings. It didn't have the bite. It was time."

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