Clayton Kershaw looked good in his first rehab start with Rancho Cucamonga

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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw took a giant step towards a mid-May return with Friday’s rehab start with the Single-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. Facing the Lancaster JetHawks, Kershaw allowed one run on two hits and a walk while striking out six in five innings. The lefty needed 56 pitches to get through his outing.

Kershaw will still need to make one or two more rehab starts, but his performance on Friday puts a very big smile on the faces of anyone waiting for his return — especially Dodgers fans, who have watched their team drop four of their last five games. Kershaw is on schedule to return around the second week of May. When he does return, he’ll replace Paul Maholm in the rotation.

The Angels were the first team to use up all of their mound visits

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Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.

Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.

At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.