For the first time in his career, postseason Clayton Kershaw is looking like the dominant, maniacally good regular season Clayton Kershaw that has claimed three Cy Young awards and an MVP.
The Los Angeles Dodgers ace entered the 2017 playoffs with a mediocre career postseason ERA of 4.55 across 18 games (14 starts).
Unfortunately for the Houston Astros, that trend hasn’t extended to this year.
Kershaw was nearly untouchable in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night, whiffing 11 Astros and allowing just three hits, no walks, and one run through seven innings.
With his dominating performance, Kershaw tied Don Newcombe for the most strikeouts in a walkless World Series outing. Newcombe accomplished the feat in 1949.
And Kershaw did it against baseball’s best offense—during the regular season, Houston crossed the plate 896 times, 38 more than the next-best team, and 72 more than the team after that.
“He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around in my life,” said Justin Turner, who hit a two-run homer off Dallas Keuchel in the sixth to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead that they’d hold on to for an early series edge. “To see him out there tonight doing what he did to one of the best offenses in baseball—that’s a really good offense over there, a really good lineup, and they don’t strike out. He gets us through seven innings and strikes out 11. It was incredible.”
The 29-year-old ace tossed only 83 pitches, meaning he should be fresh the next time his number is called in the fall classic.
Though he lobbied to stay in the contest, Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen pitcher perfect eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to close out Game 1.
“With our bullpen it doesn’t matter,” said Kershaw, who lowered his 2017 postseason ERA to 2.96. “I told him I was good to go but how can you argue with what B-Mo and Kenley are doing back there?”