Clayton Kershaw strikes out 12 batters as Dodgers top Braves in Game 1 of NLDS

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Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 batters over seven innings tonight at Turner Field as the Dodgers topped the Braves 6-1 in Game 1 of the NLDS.

Kershaw labored early on, but he eventually showed why he’s a virtual lock to win the National League Cy Young Award, striking out nine out of the final 11 batters he faced. The southpaw gave up one run and three hits on the night, with the only run scoring on an RBI single by Chris Johnson in the bottom of the fourth inning. This was the first postseason victory of Kershaw’s career. He previously appeared in five postseason games (including two starts) in 2008 and 2009.

Kershaw’s 12 strikeouts tonight were the most by a Dodgers pitcher in the postseason since Sandy Koufax struck out 15 in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series. That’s some pretty good company. They were also the most in an MLB postseason game since Cliff Lee struck out 13 in Game 3 of the 2010 ALCS.

Kris Medlen came into the postseason on a roll, allowing just four earned runs combined over his final six regular season starts, but it didn’t translate tonight. He gave up five runs on nine hits and a walk over four innings before exiting. The Dodgers had contributions from all over the lineup, as Adrian Gonzalez launched a two-run homer while Mark Ellis, Hanley Ramirez, Skip Schumaker, and A.J. Ellis also drove in runs.

Things won’t get any easier for the Braves tomorrow, as they’ll have to dust themselves off and face Zack Greinke. After using five relievers tonight, they’ll be looking for a big outing out of Mike Minor.

Phillies to sign Drew Smyly

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Jon Heyman reports that the Phillies are going to sign pitcher Drew Smyly. Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philly reported last night that the team and Smyly were chatting.

Smyly opted out of his minor league contract with the Brewers yesterday after allowing seven runs on 10 hits and three walks with 18 strikeouts in 12.2 innings with Triple-A San Antonio and not getting a hint of a call-up to the big club. Earlier this year he pinched off an 8.42 ERA with a 52/34 K/BB ratio in 51.1 innings for the Rangers.

He’s basically a free pitcher for Philly, who could use an arm. If he works out, he works out. If not, no loss. Well, I suppose it’s possible there’d be one loss and some walks and hits in like, four innings, or something, but you know what I mean.