If it was up to Clayton Kershaw, he'd already be back in the Major Leagues. And with the way he pitched on Saturday, he's probably right.
The Dodgers ace allowed one run on two hits and struck out eight over five innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City in a 4-0 loss to Omaha at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Kershaw did not issue a walk and threw 44 of 71 pitches for strikes.
Video: Oklahoma City's Kershaw records eighth K
"It was good to get back out there," Kershaw said. "It was fun to pitch again. It's been a long time, so I was glad to get back out there, and everything felt healthy and good to go, so I'm excited for the next one."
Kershaw landed on the disabled list on July 23 with a lower back strain. Prior to the injury, the three-time Cy Young Award winner produced a 15-2 record with a Major League-leading 2.04 ERA in 21 starts. He has 168 strikeouts over 141 1/3 innings and ranks second in the big leagues with a 0.88 WHIP.
Gameday box score
Kershaw cruised through the first inning in his first-ever Triple-A appearance, bookending a pair of strikeouts in a 1-2-3 frame. Jorge Soler interrupted his groove with a leadoff homer in the second, but the 29-year-old southpaw retired the next seven hitters he faced.
Paulo Orlando legged out an infield single with one out in the fourth, but Kershaw caught the Storm Chasers right fielder leaning and picked him off. From there, the six-time All-Star cruised, ending his night by striking out Royals No. 3 prospect Hunter Dozier.
"Getting back out there for the fifth inning was good," the 2006 first-round pick said. "I didn't know, with my pitch count, if I was going to be able to go five, but I was able to keep the pitch count down. My command was OK -- I didn't walk anybody, but I got behind a few hitters. But for the most part, I felt all right."
Asked whether he felt ready to rejoin the Dodgers, Kershaw surprised no one.
"I'm ready always. I feel like I've always been ready, but this is part of the process, so I'm glad I got this one under the belt and I'm ready to get back out there," he said.
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The crowd of 13,106 was Oklahoma City's largest since 1998, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark's inaugural season.
"This is a great ballpark. I've never pitched here, I've never pitched in Triple-A before, but this was awesome. I hope I never do it again, but this was fun," Kershaw said with a laugh.