‘A grind’ for Kershaw
WASHINGTON — Hardly at his best, as usual when it comes to October, Clayton Kershaw still managed to do just enough to earn a rare postseason victory.
Backed by early home runs from rookie sensation Corey Seager and Justin Turner off Max Scherzer in a matchup of Cy Young Award winners that promised more than it delivered, Kershaw worked around eight hits with the help of seven strikeouts Friday to help the Dodgers edge the Nationals 4-3 in Game 1 of their NL Division Series.
“It was a grind,” Kershaw said. “A lot of guys on base all the time. Definitely wasn’t easy. As close as you can bend without breaking, I guess.”
In his five innings against the NL East champs, Kershaw allowed three runs and needed 101 pitches. Still, he improved his playoff record to 3-6 even though his ERA rose to 4.65.
Those numbers are a far cry from his regular-season marks of 126-60, 2.37 ERA and three Cy Youngs. But maybe Kershaw’s arm felt stronger because he sat out more than two months with a bad back before returning in September.
“It feels good to win, and it feels good to win in this situation,” Kershaw said. “If I had pitched seven shutout innings and we lost, it’s a different feeling.”
He was staked to a 4-0 lead, thanks mainly to Seager and Turner, before slowly giving back most of that margin.
In the third inning, Anthony Rendon ripped a single to left field on a Kershaw slider that didn’t really slide, bringing home Max Scherzer in the dugout before he and the Nationals lost Game 1. Scherzer gave up four runs in six innings. DODGERS VS. NATIONALS Dodgers lead 1-0 Game 1: Dodgers 4-3 Game 2: 4 p.m. Saturday Dodgers (Hill 12-5) at Nationals (Roark 16-10), FS1 Game 3: 4 p.m. Monday Nationals (Gonzalez 11-11) at Dodgers (Maeda 16-10), MLB Game 4: 5 p.m. Tuesday* Nationals at Dodgers, FS1 Game 5: 5 p.m. Thursday* Dodgers at Nationals, FS1 x-if necessary two runners and getting the Nats within to 4-2.
Trea Turner’s sacrifice fly in the fourth cut the Dodgers’ lead to a run.
The Dodgers started their assault on Scherzer in the first inning. On the first pitch he saw from Scherzer, Seager turned on a 97 mph fastball and hit it out.
The Dodgers made it 4-0 in the third on Chase Utley’s RBI single and Justin Turner’s two-run shot.
“I made some mistakes, and they cost me,” Scherzer said. “I take ownership of that, and I’m accountable for that.”