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Dodgers Win Game 1, Clayton Kershaw Strikes Out 12
"The Dodgers right now are foot loose and fancy free," Vin Scully said after the Dodgers gave Clayton Kershaw four runs by the third inning. That certainly was no stretch as the Dodgers cruised to a 6-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
In the first game in the NLDS, the Dodgers faced off against Kris Medlen, the National League Pitcher of the Month for September. In five starts he had a league-best 1.00 ERA with a 0.92 WHIP and held opponents to a .196 batting average.
Dodger manager Don Mattingly summed up the approach against Medlen succinctly on Wednesday: "We're going to try to stay with him and kind of nick him for a run here or there hopefully and put some guys out there and get him in trouble. Hopefully we're going to get some key hits."
Your wish is their command.
After the side struck out in the first inning, Yasiel Puig hit a one-out single in the second, went to third on Juan Uribe's single and scored on Skip Schumaker's sacrifice fly to center fielder Jason Heyward. Heyward made an offline throw to the plate that allowed Uribe to tag up to second. A.J. Ellis scored Uribe with a double to left.
In the third inning, Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer with two outs. In the fourth inning, a two-out single by Mark Ellis scored A.J. Ellis. In four innings the Dodgers had five runs. Once Medlen hit Puig with a pitch in the fifth inning, his night was done.
The Braves had their one chance to get to Kershaw in the fourth inning. Kershaw seemed to only have command of his fastball, his slider and changeup looking mortal. Two singles and a walk, Kershaw needed 26 pitches to escape the inning giving up only one run.
For the uninitiated, Kershaw's 77 pitches through four innings might seem alarming, a sign that the bullpen would play a heavy part in the game. However we've seen Kershaw's command elude him before, and we've seen him regain it in the next inning. In fact Kershaw struck out the side in the fifth inning needing only 13 pitches.
Some might say Kershaw struggled in this outing. Hell, he might say that he struggled. But he went seven innings giving up one run on three hits and struck out 12. The only Dodger pitchers to strike out more in a postseason game were Sandy Koufax with 15 in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series and Carl Erskine with 14 in Game 3 of the 1953 World Series, both against the New York Yankees.
This is a good start in 11 wins needed for the World Series. Zack Greinke will match up against Mike Minor tomorrow in Game 2 with first pitch scheduled for 3:07 p.m. PT.
Dodgers Scorecard: (click to embiggen)
Braves Scorecard: (click to embiggen)