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Kershaw Aims To Be King of the Hill

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The kid gloves come off today for starter Clayton Kershaw.

The 21-year old phenom with that devastating 12-6 curveball that Vin Scully called “public enemy #1” will be at the adult table in game two of the National League Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

While such a daunting could give a kid a case of the butterflies, Kershaw doesn’t envision any problems.

“I’m nervous every time I pitch,” Kershaw said in Wednesday’s press conference. “I think it’s how you handle the nerves, how you channel it. You can use it to your advantage sometimes - get the adrenaline going, maybe throw a little harder, have better breaking balls. It just depends on how you use it I guess.”

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As concerting as that may sound with Kershaw’s penchant to force the issue, manager Joe Torre didn’t have any special words to tell Kershaw this morning.

“I don’t really talk to the starting pitcher that much the day they’re pitching,” Torre said.

But as for the nervousness Kershaw expressed yesterday Torre said, “You can either characterize it as nervousness or excitement, one of the two.

“This is an important game. We were leaking a little bit of oil by Saturday, and he went out there and pitched against a team that was a game behind us. I think that was a pretty important game. Just the way he went about his business, I feel pretty comfortable today.”

Not exactly a complete vote of confidence by the skipper, but when you have a bullpen that can dominate a potentially lethal lineup it’ll do.

Relievers Jeff Weaver, Hong-Chih Kuo, George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton combined for 5 1/3 innings giving up only one earned run on five hit while walking no one and striking out four on a combined 79 pitches.

If Kershaw comes into any trouble today, expect Torre to dip into the bullpen early yet again.

“As far as I know everybody’s available” Torre said of the arms he has. “I’m not sure about Weaver. When I got here today my trainer let me know early on that Kuo said he’s fine. Again that would be a situation where you would warm him up one time.”

As for the Cardinals, they are bringing out another Cy Young award candidate Adam Wainwright who went 19-8 in the regular season with a 2.63 ERA. Against the Dodgers this season he went 1-0 in two starts with a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings pitched allowing the Dodgers to hit only a .214 average.

But look out for several Dodgers players to have a good game against Wainwright. Here are the lifetime statistics of several Dodger batters against Wainwright:

  • Ronnie Belliard - .400 batting average; one home run
  • Andre Ethier - .313 batting average; one home run; two doubles
  • Rafael Furcal - .438 batting average; one triple
  • Russell Martin - .500 batting average; two doubles
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Here are the lineups for game two of the NLDS:
St. Louis Cardinals

  1. Julio Lugo, 2B
  2. Brendan Ryan, SS
  3. Albert Pujols, 1B
  4. Matt Holliday, LF
  5. Ryan Ludwick, RF
  6. Yadier Molina, C
  7. Mark DeRosa, 3B
  8. Colby Rasmus, CF
  9. Adam Wainwright, P

LA Dodgers

  1. Rafael Furcal, SS
  2. Matt Kemp, CF
  3. Andre Ethier, RF
  4. Manny Ramirez, LF
  5. James Loney, 1B
  6. Casey Blake, 3B
  7. Ronnie Belliard, 2B
  8. Russell Martin, C
  9. Clayton Kershaw, P