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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.

Mookie Betts, Javier Baez leading off the All-Star lineups

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I can’t imagine what it’s like to fill out the lineup card for an All-Star team. Most of the guys are 1-4 hitters on their own teams, but you gotta slot most of them someplace lower. Egos are probably a consideration. Strategic stuff. “Which top of the order or middle of the lineup hitter is batting eighth?” is both a difficult and thankless question.

Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch have to do it anyway, and today they released the All-Star lineups. Seeing Bryce Harper batting sixth and Manny Machado batting seventh is just not part of the usual baseball experience:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Mike Trout, CF
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B
6. Aaron Judge, LF
7. Manny Machado, SS
8. Jose Abreu, 1B
9. Salvador Perez, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Javier Baez, 2B
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B
3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B
5. Matt Kemp, LF
6. Bryce Harper, CF
7. Nick Markakis, RF
8. Brandon Crawford, SS
9. Willson Contreras, C

Not that this is gonna hold for long what with all of the substitutions.