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Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw returns to face Mets

Aug 20, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) looks on from the dugout prior to a game against the Miami Marlins at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Nimmo knew Wednesday night he didn’t have much time to savor the best catch of his career.

Nimmo and the New York Mets will look to earn a series win on Thursday afternoon when they host the Los Angeles Dodgers in the finale of a three-game set between a pair of National League division leaders.

Right-hander Chris Bassitt (11-7, 3.34 ERA) is slated to start for the Mets against left-hander Clayton Kershaw (7-3, 2.64), who will be activated from the injured list after missing almost a month with a sore lower back.

Nimmo preserved a 2-1 win for Jacob deGrom and the Mets on Wednesday night, when he robbed Justin Turner of a game-tying homer to center field in the seventh inning.

Nimmo leaped just before the wall and caught Turner’s shot just as the ball was about to go over the fence. He pumped his fist before firing the ball back toward the infield, where deGrom, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, raised his hands and doffed his cap to his teammate.

The center fielder was still sporting a big grin at his locker afterward even as he acknowledged he’d have to turn the page sooner than he might like.

“I have to start the process of getting ready for (Thursday) now,” Nimmo said with a laugh. “I have to start calming down because I have to sleep at some point (Wednesday) and get ready for a 4 o’clock game.

“I’m still really ecstatic about it. It was one of the best plays I’ve ever made. But yeah, I need to start toning down a little bit. Otherwise, I won’t fall asleep until 6 a.m. Can’t be having that.”

The narrow win kept the Mets three games ahead of the second-place Atlanta Braves in the NL East. Whoever wins the division is likely to earn the second bye in the NL playoffs along with the Dodgers, who are 18 1/2 games ahead of the second-place San Diego Padres in the NL West.

Even a rare defeat didn’t diminish the enjoyment the Dodgers derived from being a part of a playoff-like atmosphere.

Los Angeles starter Tyler Anderson continued his breakout season by almost matching deGrom. The left-hander scattered eight hits over seven innings, but a two-run homer by Starling Marte in the third inning was enough to saddle Anderson with the loss.

The game lasted just 2:19 — the second-shortest game of the season for the Mets and tied for the second-shortest game of the season for the Dodgers, who finished August with a 22-6 record.

“It was a really good baseball game to be a part of,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Bassitt didn’t factor into the decision in his latest start, when he gave up four runs over 7 1/3 innings as the Mets beat the Colorado Rockies 7-6 on Friday. He is 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers, including a setback on June 3, when he gave up four runs (three earned) in six innings.

Kershaw last pitched on Aug. 4, when he surrendered two runs (one earned) and exited after four innings with the back injury. He didn’t factor into the decision in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the San Francisco Giants.

Kershaw tossed 70 pitches in a simulated game on Saturday in Miami and threw a bullpen session in New York on Monday. Roberts said the southpaw likely be will limited to four or five innings on Thursday.

In 15 career regular-season starts against the Mets, Kershaw is 10-0 with a 2.19 ERA. He went 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA in two starts in the 2015 NL Division Series, which New York won in five games.

–Field Level Media