Making twin killings
Similar shutouts to start series has Dodgers in control
LOS ANGELES — With Sandy Koufax sitting in the front row, Clayton Kershaw pitched the best postseason game of his career, motivated partly by being passed over as the Dodgers’ Game 1 starter.
He responded with a postseason career-high eight innings of two-hit ball in his team’s second straight playoff shutout, and Manny Machado slugged a two-run homer as the Dodgers beat the Braves 3-0 on Friday night for a 2-0 lead in their NL Division Series.
“I think that it was one of the best outings that I’ve seen,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He was in complete control.”
The Dodgers used a nearly identical formula to win 6-0 in Game 1 behind Hyun-Jin Ryu — who allowed only four two-out singles over seven innings — and home runs by Joc Pederson, Max Muncy and Enrique Hernandez.
Kershaw was even better. The left-hander struck out three and walked none in the longest scoreless playoff outing for a Dodgers pitcher since Jose Lima tossed a completegame shutout in Game 3 of the 2004 NLDS against the Cardinals.
“Maybe a tick, for sure,” Kershaw said of earning some extra satisfaction. “But Ryu threw so unbelievable last night that you just want to match him. That’s all I was trying to do.”
Ryu and Kershaw became the second pair of Dodgers starters to have consecutive postseason games with seven-plus scoreless innings. Jerry Reuss G1: G2: G3: G4: G5: and Burt Hooton did it in 1981 against the Astros and Expos.
The Dodgers joined the 1921 Yankees as the only teams to open a postseason series with back-to-back shutouts, according to STATS. They recorded their first consecutive shutouts since Games 2 and 3 of the 2016 National League Championship Series against the Cubs.
The Dodgers can sweep the best-of-five series in Game 3 on Sunday in Atlanta, where the Baby Braves will be looking to score for the first time this postseason.
“I see the frustration those guys have against this guy,” Braves starter Anibal Sanchez said of his teammates facing Kershaw.
Kershaw got bypassed as the Game 1 starter in favor of Ryu after the three-time Cy Young Award winner had started eight of the Dodgers’ last 10 postseason openers. Roberts said it was done to give both Ryu and Kershaw five days of rest between starts.
“This guy is a potential Hall of Fame player,” Roberts said. “So to have the noise around him, but when it comes to his day to start and to help his club win a game, I had no concern that anything was going to affect him.”
One more victory would put Los Angeles in the NLCS for the third straight year. The Dodgers beat the Cubs last season and lost to them in 2016.
“A lot of great plays all the way around,” Kershaw said.
Clayton Kershaw felt good about manager Dave Roberts’ decisions after the Dodgers’ back-to-back shutouts.