EditorsNote: Update 2: Swaps Kershaw quote, adds Roberts
Clayton Kershaw went eight shutout innings, and Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal hit home runs as the Los Angeles Dodgers took a commanding lead in the National League Division Series with a 3-0 victory Friday over the visiting Atlanta Braves.
It was the Dodgers’ second consecutive shutout in the series after earning a 6-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday. The only other major league team to open a postseason series with back-to-back shutouts was the 1921 New York Giants.
Los Angeles will go for the sweep Sunday at Atlanta as it aims for its third consecutive NL Championship Series.
Kershaw (1-0) gave up just two hits and did not walk a batter while recording three strikeouts in an 85-pitch outing. In 19 previous postseason starts, Kershaw’s longest outing was seven innings. Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth inning to earn the save.
Kershaw had started in Game 1 in each of the Dodgers’ previous five NLDS openers but gave way this year to Hyun-Jin Ryu, who pitched seven shutout innings in Los Angeles’ win Thursday.
“Ryu threw so unbelievable last night that you just want to match him,” Kershaw said. “That’s all I was trying to do is try and put our team in a good spot, and you want to defend home field when you have home field obviously. So Game 1, Game 2, game whatever, I’m getting to pitch in the playoffs and I’m excited about that.”
On an efficient night, aided by the Braves’ aggressive approach at the plate, Kershaw was at 60 pitches through six innings and 73 after seven. He worked around a double to lead off the game by Ronald Acuna Jr. and a comebacker off his right leg in the fifth inning by Ozzie Albies.
“We looked at it and we were kind of (telling) the guys that (Kershaw) was getting ahead with the fastball and we had them be on the attack for it,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We weren’t going to let him get deep (in the count), and that was kind of the plan was to get after him early.”
Braves starter Anibal Sanchez (0-1) gave up three runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings with a walk and three strikeouts. He gave up the home runs to both Machado and Grandal. The Braves were shut out in consecutive postseason games for the first time.
Machado rebounded from an 0-for-4, three-strikeout performance in Game 1 to give the Dodgers an early 2-0 lead with a first-inning home run. He hit 37 homers in the regular season, 13 after joining the Dodgers on July 20.
“You look at where Machado is hitting in the four, the three guys in front of him are high on-base guys,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So there’s a high probability that he’s going to hit with somebody on base. And so when you take somebody of his caliber, if you do that and he can pop one, then it could change the game, and that’s what happened tonight.”
Grandal gave the Dodgers five home runs in the first two games of the series when he crushed a solo shot into the seats in right-center field in the fifth inning. The Dodgers led the NL with 235 home runs in the regular season.
After Acuna’s double to lead off the game, Kershaw retired the next 14 Braves batters. Kershaw struck out Nick Markakis in the first inning but did not record his second strikeout until he got Ender Inciarte looking in the eighth.
—Field Level Media