This was looking like early in the season. You know, when the Dodgers were in last place and their disabled list resembled an All-Star roster.
The Dodgers were already without Hanley Ramirez, who was ruled out for the weekend with an irritated nerve in his back. Now, eight innings into the Dodgers’ 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants, Andre Ethier was being escorted by a trainer off the field at Dodger Stadium.
But whatever fears were spreading through the stands weren’t felt in the clubhouse.
Ethier emerged from the trainer’s room Friday night without a limp or any ice on his legs. He said he irritated his left ankle, which he sprained last week in Colorado.
“Just a little sore,” he said.
Ethier explained that he was removed from the game because he didn’t think he could score from second base on a single. He had just doubled off Giants reliever Javier Lopez.
“It just tightened up on me,” Ethier said.
Ethier sounded as if he would try to play Saturday, though Manager Don Mattingly said he would probably rest him.
As for Ramirez, the Dodgers said they think he will be able to play next week.
So disaster was averted. At least for now.
Even in defeat, Mattingly was encouraged by what he saw from Clayton Kershaw.
For the first time in several starts, Kershaw looked like his old self again.
Kershaw blanked the Giants over the first six innings, after which the Dodgers led, 2-0, on a two-run home run Juan Uribe hit off Madison Bumgarner. The visitors reversed the deficit in the seventh inning, when they collected four consecutive hits and took advantage of a fielding error to go ahead, 3-2.
The balls the Giants hit off Kershaw were fortunately placed. The lead-off single by Hunter Pence barely got past Kershaw, as well as a diving Nick Punto, who lacks the range of a traditional shortstop.
Pence’s hit was followed by one by Pablo Sandoval. Joaquin Arias drove in Pence with a single to left, which was mishandled by Scott Van Slyke. Instead of having men on first and third base, the Giants had men on second and third. Both runners scored when Brett Pill hit a ball just over the head of first baseman Michael Young.
“It's my fault,” Kershaw said. “Against a good pitcher like Bumgarner, you get two runs, you have to make it hold up. I made a couple mistakes, they found a couple holes.”
But Kershaw himself was pleased by how he didn’t walk any batters.
In three of his last four starts, Kershaw walked three batters. In the other, he gave up five runs.
If not for a trademark head-first slide by Punto into first base, the Dodgers might have tied the game in the seventh inning.
Mark Ellis drew a walk to lead off the inning and advanced to second base on a one-out single to left field by Yasiel Puig.
Punto, who started at shortstop in place of Ramirez, grounded into a force out at second base. Arias made an errant throw to first base as he attempted to turn a double play. The ball skipped by reliever Jean Machi, but hit Punto’s sliding torso.
Had Punto not stopped the ball, Ellis might have scored from third base.
Pinch hitter Adrian Gonzalez then struck out and the Dodgers still trailed, 3-2.
The Giants extended their lead to 4-2 in the next inning on a solo home run by Pence.