If Thursday night didn’t shut people up about the Clayton Kershaw postseason narrative, then Sunday night definitely did. He was masterful in a 1-0 Dodger victory in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs.
Kershaw was perfect through 4 2/3 innings, which ties Sandy Koufax for the longest perfect start in Dodger postseason history (if that can be considered a stat). While he was great, he didn’t do it all by himself.
The Dodgers got on the board in the second inning, courtesy of Adrian Gonzalez.
Now you can say “that’s all they would need,” but it sure would have been nice to score, I don’t know, another run or two throughout the course of a 9-inning game. Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks wasn’t particularly sharp, but he escaped 5 1/3 innings giving up just the solo home run to Gonzalez.
But back to Kershaw. Things, as they normally do for Kershaw in the postseason, got a little crazy in the seventh inning. He issued a 4-pitch walk to Anthony Rizzo, which was uncharacteristic from anything Kershaw had done up to that point (just one 3-ball count prior). Then on the first pitch to Ben Zobrist, he hit a mile-high pop-up behind home plate … only, Yasmani Grandal didn’t know where the ball was. Gonzalez came sprinting (as much as he can) from first base and was in position to make the catch, but Grandal finally located it and came sprinting back … then dropped the pop-up. Everyone was thinking the worst after that. Instead, Kershaw ended up striking out Zobrist before Addison Russell flew out to left field.
Prior to the showdown with Javier Baez, Dave Roberts visited the mound. But Kershaw was only at 82 pitches and there was absolutely no way Kershaw was coming out. He wasn’t removed and was allowed to face Baez, but things got off on a wrong note thanks to an iffy call.
Then, of course, on the second pitch, Baez gave one a ride to center field that Joc Pederson tracked down.
It was, uh, fortunate.
Balls hit like @javy23baez’s flyout have resulted in an .899 AVG this year.
— #Statcast (@statcast) October 17, 2016
When you’re the best pitcher in the game, sometimes you get lucky. This would be one of those times.
That reaction about sums it up.
Kershaw’s final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 84 pitches, 55 strikes, 7/5 GO/AO. Not bad for a guy who “struggles” so much in October.
After Kershaw exited, Kenley Jansen entered and set the Cubs down 1-2-3 in the eighth inning (two strikeouts, 10 pitches). Kenley then made eight pitches in the ninth and went through Dexter Fowler (strikeout), Kris Bryant (strikeout) and Rizzo (soft line out) in order to close the game out.
We have a series, folks.