Very few franchises can claim to be as committed to preserving the ideals of old-school baseball as the New York Yankees. Despite their past rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers, big names like Reggie Jackson and David Wells have come to defend LA star Clayton Kershaw after his missed perfect game.
Kershaw was through seven perfect innings against the Minnesota Twins before manager Dave Roberts went to the bullpen.
Kershaw, who struck out 13 players and had just 80 pitches on his arm, saw any hopes of a combined perfecto dashed just two batters after being relieved. Wells could not believe that came to fruition.
Wells, who pitched a perfect game of his own in 1998, took issue with the notion that Kershaw was removed from the game simply due to his pitch count. Wells claimed that there is “no difference” between 80 and 100 pitches for a starting pitcher of Kershaw’s caliber.
Wells hinted that even though Kershaw was rehabbing from an injury, he would’ve let him stay in. Wells said that even spot starters need to be given “a chance to make history.”
The arm injury stinks, but we haven’t seen a perfect game in 10 years, and Roberts deprived us all of a chance to see another one.
Yankees legend David Wells went after Dave Roberts.
While Joe Torre did famously get himself embroiled in a similar controversy when he removed David Cone early from a hitless performance in the name of health, he also let Wells throw 120 pitches and strike out 11 Twins in his perfecto. With how economical Kershaw was, he could’ve tried to gut it out for two more frames.
At the very least, Roberts is consistent, as he pulled Rich Hill despite the left-hander throwing seven perfect innings against the Marlins in 2016.
The idea of putting an aging, recently injured Kershaw out for the last two innings with minimal spring training reps was too far for Roberts.
While this move might have been the technically correct decision, it stinks that Kershaw was not allowed to chase individual excellence. How many times is Kershaw ever going to get a chance to challenge for history ever again? It is an April game against the Twins, after all.
While it’s easy to poke fun at some of the old-school stars of yesteryear as they rage against the changes made to today’s game, those like Wells taking issue with what happened to Kershaw are on much firmer grounds for complaint. We’ll never truly know if Kershaw would have gotten those last six outs.