Somehow, I managed to do an entire take on the Dodgers winning Game 1 of the World Series with Clayton Kershaw on the mound without giving much love to Clayton Kershaw. Some of that’s because this team is so much more than just Clayton Kershaw, but it’s also because Kershaw deserves a take of his own.
7 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 11 strikeouts, and one tired narrative torched, all in Game 1 of the World Series. Those numbers are great against anyone, but even more impressive when you do it in crazy heat against an offense that put up some of the best numbers in baseball history. Four-seam fastball, slider, and the curve, he had it all working last night. And aside from a mistake to Alex Bregman, he was pretty much untouchable.
As Dave Roberts said, “Tonight was one of those nights, I think the first time in a while, where we’ve seen all three of his pitches synced up. He just was repeating the delivery, held the velocity. Was throwing the baseball where he needed to, where he wanted to. [Houston is a] very talented team over there. And for him to get ahead, keep them off balance, work them from front to back, up and down, to all quadrants. This was a special night for Clayton.”
Yes, it was a special night for Clayton. And the Dodgers. And honestly, for anyone who got the chance to see that, because that was a master at work, and doing it against an absolutely stacked lineup. That wasn’t just a good outing, that was an all-time outing. He’s the first pitcher in World Series history with 10 or more strikeouts, zero walks, and three hits or less. And he left after just 83 pitches over seven innings, meaning his arm didn’t get taxed, and there’s plenty more in it for the rest of the series.
Oh, and speaking of the seventh inning, do you want to talk about the fact that he’s traditionally had a hard time in the seventh inning of postseason games? That maybe if you waited him out, you’d be able to get him there. Jose Altuve led off the seventh with a single and then Kershaw got the next three guys on a total of six pitches. Inning over, argument over.
So let me ask you a question right now: Anyone want to rap Clayton Kershaw about anything else? You still want to go with some tired line about how he doesn’t show up in the postseason? That he isn’t the same pitcher against postseason hitters and postseason managers? That the pressure gets to him? No. No. No. And no. He just dealt with that argument the way that he dealt with the Astros hitters last night, surgically. Everything that had been thrown at him in the past, he addressed in one night, and shut it down. Because on the biggest stage, at home, with his team in the World Series for the first time in forever, he delivered.
That argument had dirt shoveled on in last year when he came out of the bullpen against the Nationals, and he’s poured cement on it and paved over it this year, especially in his last two starts – the closeout game against the defending champs and then opening the World Series the way he did last night. You’re welcome to your opinion, but if your opinion is that Kershaw isn’t a postseason pitcher, then your opinion is wrong. And the rap he had that was never fair to begin with, is officially dead.