Taijuan Walker

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Clayton Kershaw stumbles in 9-5 win over Diamondbacks, Dodgers clinch Game 1 of NLDS

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You can add Clayton Kershaw to the list of postseason aces that have dropped the ball this month. The Dodgers’ powerhouse lefty cruised through six innings of three-hit, two-run ball before the Diamondbacks caught up with him, mashing back-to-back home runs in the seventh to spoil his quality start. Luckily, that wasn’t quite enough to sabotage the rest of the Dodgers’ efforts, and they took Game 1 of the NLDS with a 9-5 finish over Arizona.

Another note about Kershaw’s outing: no other pitcher has given up four home runs in a single postseason game against a National League team.

It’s not as if the Diamondbacks had bragging rights in the pitching department. Taijuan Walker labored through a 48-pitch first inning, issuing four hits and two walks as the Dodgers worked up to a four-run lead. He struck out the side, too, but even those at-bats were wearisome, taking a full 15 pitches to send Curtis Granderson, Yasmani Grandal and Kershaw down swinging.

Walker was done after the first inning, but the D-backs’ reinforcements didn’t slow the Dodgers down for long. Zack Godley ran into trouble in the fourth inning, allowing three runs on a pair of run-scoring singles by Corey Seager and Justin Turner and a productive out from Yasiel Puig.

Seager and Turner double-teamed again in the eighth inning, helping paper over Kershaw’s mistakes with an RBI triple and RBI single, respectively. Kenley Jansen let a run squeak by on an RBI force out in the ninth inning, but quickly recovered to squash the D-backs’ rally with a first-pitch, game-ending line out from David Peralta.

Game 2 is set for Saturday at 9:00 PM ET, which means we get at least three more games of this:

Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32 ERA) will take on fellow lefty Robbie Ray (15-5, 2.89 ERA), but don’t read too much into those numbers. If nothing else, this postseason has shown us that anything can (and will) happen.