Three-time Cy Young winner and 2012 MVP Clayton Kershaw lead the Dodgers to a 8-3 victory, dicing up the Tampa Bay Rays like a Benihana chef. No one had more pressure coming into Game 1 than Kershaw, but now he sits just one dominant start away from washing away a decade of postseason failure.
In six innings, Kershaw managed eight punch-outs and surrendered only two hits, one walk and one earned run. It was a lights-out performance that Dave Roberts finally managed correctly. He allowed Kershaw to worry about results in a five- to six-inning window without the stress of extending his start. The Dodgers offense helped ease the pressure tremendously by scoring eight runs, but Roberts still deserves credit.
Maybe now we’ve seen the real Clayton Kershaw. He’s finally standing up.
Clayton Kershaw was lights out tonight 🔥— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 21, 2020
John Smoltz breaks down how tough it his for hitters to pick up his pitches: pic.twitter.com/M4PZV0nxJN
Not out of the woods
Barring further back stiffness, Clayton Kershaw is expected to throw either Game 5 or 6. Considering the magnitude of those games in a close series, this next start will be the biggest of his career. Dave Roberts can’t let the moment get too big or stray from the game plan. Less is more for the former MVP and that means asking Clayton to dominate for 70 pitches or so and then letting the relievers take over.
If Roberts can manage the emotions of the game, the Dodgers can end a 32-year World Series drought.
Tampa’s offense has struggled ever since they took their 3-0 series lead over Houston, and Kershaw needs that offense to have one more bad night. He was able to get through the early innings of tonight’s game quickly, helping put the bats in rhythm for a big night.
Clayton Kershaw in Game 1:— Starting 9 (@Starting9) October 21, 2020
78 pitches, 6 IP, 8 Ks, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB
2020 Postseason ERA: 2.88 pic.twitter.com/F9ikJM3py7
No matter what happens the rest of the way, critics of Clayton Kershaw should study his resume a bit differently now. He boasts a 2.88 ERA in the 2020 postseason. He’s done his job.
The Los Angeles Dodger has endured enough criticism. It’s time to give him some credit. If his team beats the Tampa Bay Rays, Kershaw will have made a significant contribution to the World Series victory. A World Series MVP nod would solidify Kershaw as one of the greatest left-handers of all-time. But we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. Kershaw’s still one dominant start away.
The first pitch for Game 2 is tonight at 5:08. Tampa will start former Cy Young winner Blake Snell. Tony Gonsolin will throw for L.A. In the event of a Dodgers win, ace Walker Buehler will start Game 3 up 2-0, an exciting prospect.