Kershaw, Dodgers sizzle in World Series opener
LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw’s intimidation started early Tuesday, well before first pitch, when he came out to “warm up” wearing a jacket as Southern California temperatures soared well over 100 degrees.
Kershaw’s pregame routine was not to be trifled with, especially since it was his first World Series appearance, and his in-game performance looked just as familiar.
The Dodgers ace struck out 11 over seven innings, and Chris Taylor and Justin Turner homered as Los Angeles won Game 1 of the World Series 3-1 over the Houston Astros.
Brandon Morrow pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Kenley Jansen worked a perfect ninth for the save as the Dodgers came out on top in their first World Series game in 29 years.
The Astros are now 0-5 in their World Series history. They were swept in 2005 by the Chicago White Sox.
It was vintage Kershaw as he allowed no walks and three hits, including a home run by Alex Bregman. The owner of a 2.36 ERA in nearly 2,000 regular-season innings, Kershaw has dominated plenty of times in the fashion he did Tuesday. However, the postseason has been a different animal altogether for the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
With the Tuesday outing, Kershaw improved to 7-7 with a 4.21 ERA in the postseason. The 11 strikeouts were one shy of his career playoff best. Opponents might have gotten to Kershaw in earlier playoff rounds, but his record is now spotless after one World Series appearance.
“Well, I don’t know if you can decipher between a postseason start and a World Series start,” Kershaw said. “The adrenaline, I feel like every game is so much more magnified. You can’t really tell the difference between another postseason (game) or a World Series start. But definitely feels good to say it was the World Series, and it feels good to say we’re 1-0. And we have to come back tomorrow and do it again.”
The Dodgers got all the offense they needed courtesy of co-National League Championship Series co-MVPs Taylor and Turner.
Taylor hit Astros starter Dallas Keuchel’s first pitch of the game some 447 feet into the left field seats, raising the decibel level even higher from a crowd of 54,253 at Dodger Stadium.
Taylor became the fourth player in World Series history to lead off Game 1 of the World Series with a home run, joining Kansas City’s Alcides Escobar (2015), Boston’s Dustin Pedroia (2007) and Baltimore’s Don Buford (1969).
“That’s some of the fastest bat speed you’ll see in the big leagues,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Taylor. “I don’t know how it measures out. By the eye, it’s pretty impressive. He jump-started them tonight on the first pitch. He got a first-pitch fastball to hit.”
After Bregman’s blast in the fourth, Turner drove one just over the wall in left field in the sixth for a two-run shot that also scored Taylor. Turner’s four home runs this postseason are one shy of the club record for a single postseason set by Davey Lopes in 1978.
Turner has 26 postseason RBIs with the Dodgers, tying Duke Snider for the franchise record. No Dodger has ever recorded more RBIs than the 14 Turner has recorded in these playoffs.
After a strikeout and a foul out in his first two at-bats, Turner said he adjusted from a 34 1/2-ounce bat to one that was 33 1/2 ounces. The in-game adjustment worked.
“That was probably just as loud as it was on the walk-off homer (in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs),” Turner said. “That’s the most electric I’ve ever seen (Dodger Stadium), which it should be as it’s the first World Series here in 29 years. Our fans are fired up, pumped, and the buzz around the city is crazy.”
Kershaw, utilizing a sharp slider, dominated early, striking out five in his first three innings. He didn’t give up a hit until Josh Reddick’s single in the third inning.
In the fourth, Kershaw’s issue with the long ball this postseason surfaced when Bregman homered to left for his third of the playoffs. It was the seventh home run that Kershaw has given up this postseason. Kershaw still struck out the side in the fourth.
“I think (Houston) is a really good hitting team,” Kershaw said. “They hit a lot of homers and don’t strike out. There’s little room for error. So it’s important for me to establish pitches, be able to throw multiple things for strikes, and thankful I was able to do that tonight.
“I made a few mistakes — obviously Bregman got me — then I threw one down the middle to (Carlos) Correa that he popped up; that could’ve gone a long way, too. For the most part, though, I’ll take it.”
Bregman went 1-for-4 to raise postseason average to .196. Five of his eight hits in the playoffs have been for extra bases.
Despite striking out four times, George Springer will be back in the leadoff spot in Game 2, Hinch said.
“He had a tough night at work, and a lot of our guys did,” Hinch said. “I know George has struggled. If he hits the first pitch (Wednesday) into the gap, or hits a single, or hits the ball out of the ballpark, you’d be amazed how good he feels.”
NOTES: Astros RHP Justin Verlander, the AL Championship Series MVP, will start Game 2 on Wednesday against Dodgers LHP Rich Hill. ... The Dodgers added SS Corey Seager and RHP Brandon McCarthy to the World Series roster, dropping OF Curtis Granderson and C Kyle Farmer. Seager missed the NL Championship Series with a back injury. ... The Astros did not make any changes from their roster in the ALCS. ... Houston 3B Alex Bregman, at 23 years, 208 days, became the youngest American League player to hit a home run in a World Series since Manny Ramirez (23 years, 148 days) in 1995. ... Astros SS Carlos Correa became the seventh native of Puerto Rico to bat cleanup in a World Series game, joining teammate Carlos Beltran.