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Clayton Kershaw struggles in Dodgers’ 4-1 loss


The good news? Clayton Kershaw is back on a major league mound. It’s been a long 75 days, made even longer by the Dodgers’ constant retooling of the rotation. The bad news? Kershaw’s first appearance for the Dodgers looked like this:

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It’s not as if the Marlins have been particularly hot lately, going 7-3 in their last 10 games and placing fifth-lowest in total runs scored, but as with any return from an injury, it’s difficult to project any kind of success right out of the gate — even for the best in the game.

Kershaw delivered 66 pitches over three innings, getting ensnared in a long at-bat that was punished by a Jeff Francoeur double and even longer at-bats that, mercifully, culminated in several of the lefty’s five strikeouts. After J.T. Realmuto’s home run in the first inning, Kershaw let just one more run slip by on a line drive by Miami infielder Chris Johnson.

While Kershaw’s velocity was up, superseding even his season averages on his fastball, slider, and curveball, his command was shaky at best. Despite not allowing any walks, his belt-high sliders made easy targets for the Marlins’ lineup. It was hardly the dominant showing the Dodgers have come to expect from their ace, one for whom a nine-pitch inning is less of a fantasy and more of a reality.

Assuming that Kershaw doesn’t break out with another no-hit attempt in his next start, which should be Wednesday against the Yankees, the Dodgers are no longer in a place where they have to rest their hopes for a playoff berth on his shoulders. Getting a healthy ace back in the rotation on a consistent basis would bolster their place atop the NL West, but the contributions they’ve received from Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, and Jose De Leon should keep them in the running while Kershaw focuses on getting back to his usual Cy Young Award-winning self.

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.