|(photo by Lenny Ignelzi/AP)|
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Kershaw Dominates Without His Dominating Stuff in Game 1
The scariest thing about tonight's 6-1 Dodger win is that Clayton Kershaw didn't have his best stuff. He got behind hitters. His curveball wasn't sharp. His fastball was hittable and he was walking a few guys. It took five innings to reach a groove and by then his pitch count was in the 90s.
So with that said, who would expect a statline of these proportions?
7 IP, 3 hits allowed, 1 ER, 3 BB and 12 SO
That's a great performance and a winning performance. Kershaw will probably be the first to acknowledge that because of the magnitude of the game, tonight's win was maybe the greatest of his career, but his stuff wasn't there for most of the night. It was reminiscent of a memorable October night in Dodger lore from 1981.
Fernando Valenzuela in game 3 of the 1981 World Series had some of the worst stuff he'd ever had during that Cy Young Award winning season, but even today he'll acknowledge that one game may have been his finest hour on the mound. That was the kind of gritty performance that Kershaw had tonight as Braves hitters got his pitch count higher and higher while he failed to put away hitters early. They were fouling off two strike pitches from the first inning on.
The Dodger offense achieved the rare feat of putting runs on the scoreboard for Kershaw. Two in the second, another deuce in the third and one more in the fourth. Clayton had the luxury of pitching with a lead and not fearing that big hit that the Braves have gotten so many times this year. Thus, he had the luxury of reaching deep down and finding his A-1 quality stuff.
In the fifth inning, that finally occurred. Kershaw's slider and change up started working. He struck out the side in the 5th. He nearly did so in the 6th. He chalked up 6 Ks in a row and 9 of 10 consecutive outs recorded were by strikeout. The domination was back. The Braves were done.
Are they done for the series? Not by a longshot, but you've got to like the Dodgers chances tomorrow with ace # 2 Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63) taking the ball. Home field advantage has moved to the L.A. ball club. The Braves will be playing for their lives tomorrow.