LOS ANGELES — Two things Clayton Kershaw clearly hates: Being on the disabled list and having pitch restrictions while on the mound.
The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ left-hander might be done with both when he takes the mound Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kershaw will be making his third start since coming off the disabled list for his most recent back injury and has been trending in a positive direction.
What Kershaw would like to see is more of the offense the Dodgers showed in Monday’s series opener Zach Hyman Jersey , when the club scored 17 runs on 21 hits in an easy victory.
Tasked with slowing that offense at Dodger Stadium, while matching Kershaw pitch for pitch, will be Pirates right-hander Ian Nova.
If Kershaw is almost all the way back on top after an injury, Nova is there already. In four starts since coming off the DL because of a sprained right finger, Nova is 2-0 with a 1.75 ERA.
Kershaw is only this far along in his return from the DL because the Dodgers pulled a last-minute switch on June 23, and had him pitch in New York against the Mets instead of with Triple-A Oklahoma City on a rehab outing.
Kershaw threw 55 pitches against the Mets, giving up two runs on five hits over three innings. On June 28 against the Chicago Cubs, Kershaw was back at it, throwing 68 pitches while giving up one run on four hits over five innings.
A natural progression would have Kershaw at about 80 pitches on Tuesday, but Kershaw has a way of getting more out of himself when the situation requires it.
“I’ve proven that I’m healthy,” Kershaw told reporters after his most recent start. “So now John Carlson Jersey , next time out I’m sure the restriction should hopefully be pretty close to off. (I will) get ready and just try to beat an opponent.”
Nova has thrown between 86 and 94 pitches in his four starts since coming off the DL and has given up one or no runs in three of those outings. The one where he did not was on Wednesday at New York. But he did hold the Mets to three runs over six innings, keeping the Pirates close enough to put together a ninth-inning rally for a victory.
That victory was part of a Pirates run where they won four of six games and took series at New York and San Diego. Sure there was a five-game losing streak before that, but going back even further, the Pirates had won four of five.
So even though they were roughed up by the Dodgers on Monday, the Pirates have learned the value of resiliency.
“We’re well aware of what we need to improve upon,” manager Clint Hurdle said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’re well aware of our monthly progress and then some of our monthly challenges. Love the fact that the game brings attention to specific areas, daily, weekly, monthly, and then I love to watch how some guys are able to fight and battle and work through it.”
Up next is a challenge against Kershaw Alex Burmistrov Jersey , who is 2-3 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 career starts against Pittsburgh. The Pirates are one of two National League teams Kershaw has a losing record against in the regular season, along with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Nova knows his way around the Dodgers, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts, one in each of the previous two seasons.
The Carolina Hurricanes haven’t had much to celebrate at their arena in recent years, at least when it comes to the playoffs. At the end of another listless season, they kept the Tampa Bay Lightning from partying there.
Elias Lindholm scored 49 seconds into overtime, and the Hurricanes prevented Tampa Bay from clinching the top spot in the Eastern Conference by beating the Lightning 3-2 on Saturday night.
Justin Williams had a goal and an assist, Jordan Staal scored a deflected goal and Phil Di Giuseppe had two assists for the Hurricanes. They had lost three straight and four of five down the stretch during their ninth straight season without making the playoffs – tied for the third-longest such drought in NHL history.
”Listen, it’s tough for me to put on a smile for a couple seconds, and then you realize where you are,” Williams said. ”And then instantly turns into a frown.”
Ondrej Palat scored the tying goal with 8:49 left and Ryan Callahan also scored for Tampa Bay. But with star Steven Stamkos out for a third straight game with an upper-body injury Phil Kessel Jersey , the Lightning earned one point for going to OT but relinquished control of the Atlantic Division race to Boston.
The Bruins, who beat Ottawa 5-2 on Saturday night, will win the division and claim the top spot in the East if they beat Florida on Sunday night.
”You never want to leave things into the hands of another team, but there’s still a chance for us to be the first seed,” Tampa Bay center Alex Killorn said. ”We’ll wait and see.”
The winning goal came after Teuvo Teravainen charged between the circles and looked left to Lindholm, who one-timed it past Louis Domingue.
That came after J.T. Miller set up Tampa Bay’s tying goal when he found Palat with a slick pass and the defenseman one-timed it by Ward to make it 2-2.
Cam Ward made 32 saves against the NHL’s highest-scoring offense. The Lightning average a league-best 3.56 goals and in winning the first two games of the season series had scored five goals in each.
”Obviously, they’re top in the East for a reason, and pretty much can be a threat every time they’re out there,” Ward said. ”We came in tonight trying to finish the right way, and I thought the effort was there all night. They’re going to get their looks and get their chances but … if I made the save, the guys are right there to help me out.”
Domingue stopped 39 shots for Tampa Bay Braden Holtby Jersey , which had won two straight and three of four.
”I like the way that we’ve played the past couple of games,” Killorn said. ”Tonight may not have been as great as the other two, but it’s about putting a full game together and I think guys are excited for playoffs. We’ve been in the playoffs, clinched, for a while now. We’re kind of tired of waiting and we want to get started.”
NOTES: Staal won two awards following a vote of the local chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, earning the Steve Chiasson Award for determination and dedication to the sport and the Josef Vasicek Award for cooperation with the media. … The group also selected RW Sebastian Aho as team MVP.
Lightning: Will watch the Florida-Boston game while awaiting the start of their first-round series.
Hurricanes: Preseason camp starts in September.
More NHL hockey: http://www.officialusafootballs.com/chicago-bears