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Kershaw, Dodgers Ride Wave Of Whiffs To Game One Win

Evan Budrovich |
October 3, 2013 | 9:35 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Clayton Kershaw absolutely decimated the Braves' lineup Thursday night. (SD Dirk/Creative Commons)
Clayton Kershaw absolutely decimated the Braves' lineup Thursday night. (SD Dirk/Creative Commons)
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw took the bump following a near-historic season for the Boys in Blue and carried that momentum to Turner Field, squashing the Braves in a strong 6-1 victory.

Working like the horse Dodger fans have come to sincerely appreciate, Kershaw dominated seven shutdown innings on 124 pitches, while only allowing three base hits against an offense that led the National League in homeruns this season.

Entering with only 10 playoff strikeouts and zero career postseason victories, Kershaw certainly earned his keep as the magic man in Los Angeles, notching 12 K's on the night, in what some were calling just a mediocre outing thanks to some early control issues.

Kershaw recorded the second-most strikeouts in Dodger postseason-game history only behind another dominant lefty in Sandy Koufax, who recorded 15 punchouts during Game 1 on the 1963 World Series. And in the process, the Dodgers improved to 15-1 when supplying Kershaw at least four runs of support.

The aforementioned offense, which came alive in the second half of the season fueling the Dodgers run to their first NL West Title since 2009, came out flat in the first inning, striking out in order against Braves starter Kris Medlen (0-1).

SEE MORE: 2013 NLDS Preview: Dodgers vs. Braves

Once things settled down in the wild and intense environment, which held plenty of negative discourse surrounding their last home tilt in the NL Wild Card loss to St. Louis last season, the Dodgers scored five crucial runs over the next three innings.

The scoring began when Yasiel Puig recorded the first hit of the night lining a sharp single to center field and was quickly cashed in by utility outfielder Skip Shumaker, who was granted the start by Don Mattingly with injured star Matt Kemp out for the entirety of the postseason.

AJ Ellis, the catcher who is known throughout the league for his clutch hitting, knocked a double to left plating one of four Dodger runs with two outs in the contest. The biggest blast of the game however came from Adrian Gonzalez lifting a 411-foot bomb just over Jayson Heyward's outstretched glove, doubling the Dodgers lead. 

The Braves began to mount a rally of their own in the fourth inning, plating runners at the corners with two outs, before Kershaw worked his strikeout magic on the bump and retired Andrelton Simmons swinging. That would be the last real scent of life from what looked like an overmatched lineup just struggling to even put the ball into play.

For a lineup that entered the NLDS with a franchise- and National League-high in strikeouts, the Braves hit-or-largely-miss lineup ended the night with 15 punchouts from the combination of Kershaw, fully-bearded Brian Wilson and closer Kenley Jansen.

All of this without their highest-paid player Dan Uggla, who was left off the NLDS roster after struggling mightily down the stretch and while battling nagging inuries. The Dodgers were facing similar straints with Andre Ethier and Kemp out for Game 1, but Crawford and Shumaker played to their complementary roles in the lineup, providing the Dodgers a nice break in the lienip.

The staff just keeps pumping out NL CY Young candidates as 16-game winner Zack Greinke takes the rubber Friday afternoon looking to take both games in Atlanta before returning home for Game 3 Sunday in Los Angeles.


- The Dodger pitching staff, which enters this series as the prohibitive favorites in terms of starting rotation, rode the back of Clayton Kershaw who battled through seven innings after throwing 75 pitches through four innings of work.

- Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig did exactly what fans were coming to expect in his first postseason game, notching a couple of base hits while getting on base and using that speed to wreak havoc on the base paths. Just for fun later in the game, Puig doubled off the Braves on the basepaths for the second time this season, this time utilizing the old bluff to catch Evan Gattis leaning in between first and second base.

- Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, the vicious middle of the order combination, drove in half the runs in Game 1 and provided a stabling force for the lineup that recorded hits from all but one of their position players.

- Don Mattingly rolled with his ace on the bump and Kershaw came to play in the seventh after throwing 104 through six innings of work. Kershaw bounced more curveballs than in almost any start this season, and the results paid off big time.

- Brian Wilson closed the door in the 8th inning rocking his patented beard, which now stands more like a drape than facial accessory, maintaining his career postseason 0.00 ERA through 12.2 IP on the bump.


Reach Staff Writer Evan Budrovich here. Follow him on Twitter



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