Jeff Niemann undergoes MRI exam on injured back

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Jeff Niemann exited last night’s start against the Blue Jays after just four innings because of back soreness and Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that he underwent an MRI exam this morning.

Niemann told Topkin that he’s “still pretty sore” after visiting with a back specialist and it sounds like his ending up on the disabled list is likely.

Topkin speculates that Andy Sonnanstine would slide into the rotation if that happens. He started 22, 32, and 18 games from 2007-2009, but Sonnanstine has just four starts among 47 total appearances since the beginning of last season and sports a 5.33 career ERA as a starter. Recalling Alex Cobb from Triple-A is another option.

Clayton Kershaw struggles with control, walks six Marlins

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.

Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.

The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.