Getty Images

Dodgers take World Series Game 1 with historic start by Clayton Kershaw

47 Comments

The Dodgers took an early lead in the World Series on Tuesday night, banking on an incredible performance from Clayton Kershaw as they topped the Astros 3-1 in Game 1. Even in the sweltering heat — a blistering 103 degrees at first pitch — Kershaw kept his composure against a stacked Astros’ lineup, collecting 11 strikeouts en route to his first career World Series win.

Kershaw was perfect through 2 1/3 innings. He needed just nine pitches to get through the first inning and retired the first seven batters in a row before Josh Reddick lined a one-out base hit into right field in the third. No matter: the southpaw returned with back-to-back strikeouts against Dallas Keuchel and George Springer, and it wasn’t until the fourth inning that he’d make his second and biggest mistake of the night.

Alex Bregman‘s game-tying home run — his third of the postseason and first-ever off of Kershaw — tied things up for the Astros. The Dodgers’ ace has now given up eight runs on seven homers in the playoffs this year, but it’s the rest of his stats that merit a closer look. By the end of his seven-inning outing in Game 1, he’d fired 57 strikes in 83 pitches and fanned 11 of 24 batters while allowing three hits and zero walks. The last World Series starter to engineer an 11-strikeout, zero-walk game? Brooklyn Dodgers’ right-hander Don Newcombe in Game 1 of the 1949 Series.

Dallas Keuchel, meanwhile, found it a little more difficult to stay on top of the Dodgers’ hitters. NLCS co-MVP Chris Taylor engineered a first-pitch home run in the bottom of the first inning, giving Los Angeles the boost they needed to prop up Kershaw’s efforts. Enrique Hernandez, Austin Barnes and Corey Seager returned with base hits in the second, third and fifth, respectively, but the Dodgers weren’t able to secure the go-ahead run until fellow co-MVP Justin Turner hit one out in the sixth.

Both starters made their exit in the seventh inning. Kershaw was done after the Dodgers bobbled a pair of inning-ending plays, while Keuchel had his leash yanked following Seager’s second base hit of the night. Brad Peacock relieved Keuchel and immediately yielded a walk to Logan Forsythe, but that was the only concession made on either side. Each team’s bullpen proved impenetrable. Brandon Morrow and Chris Devenski got the job done with a scoreless eighth inning, while Kenley Jansen returned in the ninth for three straight outs and his fourth save of October.

The Dodgers will try to capitalize on their home field advantage again on Wednesday, when Rich Hill (12-8, 3.32 ERA) takes the mound against Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36 ERA). The forecast is 91 degrees at game time. Verlander hasn’t lost a postseason game yet; neither have the Dodgers lost at home. First pitch is set for 8:00 PM ET.

Gio González exits NLCS Game 4 start after twisting ankle

Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brewers starter Gio González was forced to exit his NLCS Game 4 start against the Dodgers in the second inning after twisting his left ankle attempting to field a comebacker hit by Yasiel Puig. González leaped, deflected the ball and twisted his ankle landing, then went after the ball but Puig reached base easily.

The Brewers’ trainer and manager Craig Counsell came out to the mound to observe González throwing some practice pitches. He was clearly in pain but was allowed to stay in. He threw one pitch to Austin Barnes and very visibly grimaced after completing his wind-up. Counsell came back out to the mound and took a visibly upset González out of the game. Freddy Peralta came in relief to finish out the at-bat. González probably shouldn’t have been allowed to stay in the game in the first place, but sometimes a player’s competitiveness is enough to convince a manager and a trainer.

Upon entering, Peralta issued a walk to Austin Barnes, then got the first out when Rich Hill laid down a mediocre bunt, allowing Peralta to get the lead runner at third base. Peralta struck out Chris Taylor and walked Justin Turner to load the bases with two outs. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts opted to pinch-hit for David Freese with Max Muncy, who struck out looking. Peralta was somehow able to slither out of the jam.

Gonzalez pitched two innings in NLCS Game 1 on Friday. He was quite good after joining the Brewers in a late-August trade with the Nationals, compiling a 2.13 regular season ERA in five starts with his new club. The Brewers will likely provide an update on his status after Tuesday night’s game.