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Grieving Clayton Kershaw set for start against Twins

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers

May 10, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) delivers a pitch against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning at American Family Field. The Los Angeles Dodgers 8, Milwaukee Brewers 1. Mandatory Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw will take the mound with a heavy heart, pitching three days after the death of his mother, Marianne Tombaugh.

Kershaw elected to remain with the club after his mother’s passing and is expected to go on the bereavement list following his home outing against the Minnesota Twins.

“Once he makes his start, I’m sure there will be some things that are going to take place that he’s going to take part in, if that’s what they choose,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Kershaw (6-2, 2.36 ERA) is tied for the National League lead in wins. He has 56 strikeouts and 10 walks in 49 2/3 innings this season and enters the outing off a win at Milwaukee in which he gave up one run on five hits over a season-high-tying seven innings.

The start was a welcome sight after Kershaw gave up a season-high five walks in a May 5 loss to the San Diego Padres.

“I think there’s not many more words you can really say about a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman said of Kershaw. “When you need someone like that to step up, and he does it every single time, it’s just a treat to watch. Being a fan of baseball, to get to watch that every five days, it’s special.”

In Kershaw’s lone career start against the Twins, he pitched a perfect seven innings and struck out 13 in his 2022 season debut. However, he was removed at that point as a precaution after missing much of the 2021 season due to forearm inflammation.

The Dodgers earned a wild 9-8, 12-inning victory over the Twins behind two home runs from Max Muncy, another from Will Smith and a game-ending, bases-loaded walk by Trayce Thompson. Muncy has four multi-homer games this season.

Los Angeles will try for its season-best seventh consecutive victory and its 11th consecutive victory at home.

The Twins will send right-hander Bailey Ober to the mound in an effort to stop the Dodgers’ run. Ober (2-0, 1.85), who started the season at Triple-A Saint Paul, was solid against the Padres, when he gave up three runs over six innings and threw a season-high 96 pitches.

While Minnesota rallied for a 5-3 victory in that game, it was the first time in his four major league starts this season that Ober allowed more than one run.

“Toward the end of an outing, guys have to kind of reach somewhere to keep pitching. They don’t feel like the outing just started,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Bailey, he did a phenomenal job and kept us in the game, again.”

Ober has not faced the Dodgers in his three major league seasons.

Despite the loss, the Twins are in familiar territory. They have won consecutive series against the Padres and Chicago Cubs, but only after they lost the opener in each set. Those series were at home, though. Minnesota will attempt to repeat the feat on the road, where it is 9-11.

Christian Vazquez and Jorge Polanco each had three hits for the Twins. Polanco socked a solo home run and Trevor Larnach hit a three-run shot that tied the game 6-6 in the eighth inning.