In a true rivalry, even the most innocuous moment can become incendiary at the drop of a Dodgers hat.
On Saturday, Clayton Kershaw getting victimized by a catcher’s interference call that allowed Jurickson Profar to take first base became a flash point for two teams that, outside of Kershaw and Yu Darvish, seem to really hate each other.
Two games into the season series, the Dodgers are now 2-0, though not without a quantifiable amount of sweat.
Friday night’s extra-inning thriller, which LA didn’t break open until the 12th inning (how does anyone get through two extras scoreless these days?!) saved its fireworks for the 10th, when the benches briefly cleared in the heart of battle.
On Saturday, we narrowly avoided the same fate.
Set off by what he perceived as a chintzy attempt to make contact with catcher Austin Barnes’ mitt, Kershaw fumed at Profar as he stood safely on first, launching expletives his way (which Profar returned with aplomb).
Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was furious at the Padres’ Jurickson Profar.
The video? It’s iconic. If Kershaw’s this mad, you know the game’s overall tension has already been ratcheted up to 11.
Don’t tell these people it’s only April. You can tell whining Yankees fans it’s only April, but don’t tell these guys.
Ultimately, this war of words fueled Kershaw to another vintage classic outing, pushing the Dodgers’ record to 13-2 on the year (after dropping Opening Day). On nearly 100 pitches, Kershaw blanked the Pads on the road, allowing just a pair of hits and striking out eight. Jimmy Nelson, Blake Treinen, and Victor González combined for the other three, preserving the lefty’s masterpiece and third win of the season.
Oh, and Mookie Betts helped, too.
The energy from the first two games of this season series could light a small village, and as the summer begins to open back up and stadium capacities change, it’s clear that the dawning of a newfound rivalry will bring with it unmatched intensity.
Each team is looking for every possible inch, giving us such minutiae as potentially-stolen catcher’s interference calls. And Kershaw and the Dodgers aren’t afraid to call it out.