Real or not? Clayton Kershaw’s rough outing more bad news for Dodgers

3:18 AM ET

Clayton Kershaw hopped out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ dugout in the top of the first inning, slammed his fist into his glove and jogged to the mound for his first start at Dodger Stadium since July 23, already drenched in his sweat from his pregame warm-up.

That was pretty much the highlight of the night for the Dodgers, and if you spent the top of the first inning woofing down a Dodger Dog, then Thursday’s game was already over by the time you got to your seat.

Charlie Blackmon led off with a base hit, grounding a 3-2 fastball on the outside corner up the middle. DJ LeMahieu worked the count full and then lined a 3-2 slider on the inside corner into left field for a double. Kershaw worked him inside since LeMahieu rarely pulls the ball, but sometimes he does pull the ball and Kershaw was in trouble. Nolan Arenado stepped in. He leads the world in RBIs. Kershaw throws a first-pitch 93 mph fastball and Arenado deposited it deep into the left-field bullpen. Just like that, 3-0 before you could wipe the mustard off your Cody Bellinger T-shirt.

Kershaw would give up hits to the first four batters he faced for the first time in his career. He’d scuffle through the second inning, finally escaping a bases-loaded jam when he fanned Mark Reynolds. He threw 71 pitches through three innings, the first time that had happened since April 2011. He’d get pulled in the fourth, having presumably hit a limit of 86 pitches. He finished with six hits, four runs, three walks and seven strikeouts and you might chalk it up as one of those games that happens … except the Dodgers have had a lot of these games of late. The Rockies won 9-1, sending the Dodgers to their 12th loss in 13 games.

What in the name of the baseball gods is going on here? The Dodgers lost nine games in two months and now they’ve lost 12 in two weeks. If Dodgers fans didn’t need to panic 24 hours ago, do they need to panic after Kershaw’s poor outing? He did overpower the Padres in his first start off the DL, but he always manhandles the Padres. Was his lack of command just rust that will wear off by the time the playoffs start or is it a sign that maybe he’s not 100 percent?

It has been some horrible baseball, no doubt — bad hitting, bad fielding, bad managing according to my friends who are Dodgers fans, and definitely bad hitting. Maybe Dodgers fans can take solace in this: There’s basically no correlation between how a team plays in September and how it plays in October. The best example of this was the 2000 Yankees. They lost their final seven games — including scores of 15-4, 11-1, 11-3, 13-2 and 9-1 — and 14 of their final 17 and then turned it on when it mattered and won the World Series.

Still, the swagger is gone. The Dodgers will no longer be feared heading into the postseason. The offense has been exposed as merely good and not great, and a couple of the pitchers appear to be staggering to the finish line. I don’t think the clock struck midnight and the Dodgers suddenly turned into the ’62 Mets, but it’s also time to win some games and erase the fear that they’ve lost their mojo.

Indians win 15th straight to set franchise record. So, I think Corey Kluber got a little ticked off after giving up two home runs in the first inning to the White Sox. Mind you, he still led since the Indians had scored four in the top of the first, but he rarely gives up two runs in a game these days, let alone two home runs in one inning. Anyway, the White Sox are basically fielding a Triple-A team these days, so Kluber recovered from his little hiccup to finish with 13 strikeouts in seven innings as he gave up only one more hit.

The Indians cruised to an 11-2 victory to become just the fifth team with a winning streak of at least 15 games in the past 30 seasons:

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