What we're watching: Kershaw to duel Haren

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– The pitching matchup of the night pits Clayton Kershaw against Dan Haren as the Dodgers take on the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Kershaw currently ranks seventh in the NL in ERA, two spots behind Haren. The two are going in opposite directions, though. Kershaw has a 1.55 ERA since the beginning of June and a 1.10 ERA since the beginning of July. Haren, who entered the All-Star break as the major league leader in ERA, has given up 16 earned runs in his last four starts. He’s 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this year, while Kershaw has yet to face the Diamondbacks.
– The Phillies and Braves are both coming off series sweeps as they face off in Atlanta tonight. Philadelphia just took three straight from the Cubs. Atlanta has won five straight against the Dodgers and the previously surging Nationals. Tonight’s game will feature two rather unlucky starters, at least as far as wins and losses go. Joe Blanton has allowed three runs or fewer in 12 of his last 13 starts, yet he’s just 7-6 for the season. Jair Jurrjens is 9-8 with a 3.01 ERA. The Braves have scored a total of 10 runs in his losses.
Game of the Night
Boston vs. Texas – The AL wild card leaders will begin a three-game series in Texas tonight. The Red Sox, who are a half-game out in front, will send Jon Lester to the mound, while the Rangers counter with Kevin Millwood. Both starters are 9-7 with ERAs in the mid-3.00s, though Lester has been the far better pitcher lately. Millwood has just one win in his last seven starts. However, that did come against the Red Sox back on July 20. The Rangers will have Ian Kinsler back at second base tonight after he missed 16 days with a strained hamstring,

Clayton Kershaw, Jacob deGrom create MLB first with 11 strikeouts each in the playoffs

Jacob deGrom
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and two walks total.

The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.

Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.

Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.

With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.

Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.

Mets take lead during NLDS Game 1 with Daniel Murphy’s solo homer

Daniel Murphy
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
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Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.

Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.

Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.