The Clayton Kershaw and Jacob deGrom pitching duel lived up to its billing tonight, as the duo did something that’s literally never been done before in baseball history.
And there's 11 for deGrom. We're now witnessing the first postseason game in MLB history in which both starters had 11+ strikeouts.
— Paul Casella (@paul_casella) October 10, 2015
Not that it matters to Dodgers fans, who watched the team fall 3-1 to the Mets, and the Dodgers will now have to battle from behind in the NLDS.
This meant, of course, that Kershaw (and the bullpen) once again fell short in the postseason. And quite frankly, it doesn’t matter whether you believe the clutch/choker narrative is true or false, and regardless of whatever explanations you use (and I’ve tried), ultimately Kershaw will be remembered for how he does in the postseason after his regular season greatness. That’s reality.
Coming into today, he had a 5.12 playoff ERA in 51 innings, and while he pitched amazing initially again, Kershaw fell short and understandably that’s all anybody will care about. As he’s proven over his last three playoff starts, he can absolutely be dominant in the playoffs and he has been through 18 innings in those starts in which he has only given up one run. But either the bullpen has gone south or he’s run out of gas and hasn’t been able to get through the seventh, which is obviously a problem at the end of the day. Excuses or not, Kershaw’s better than that and he should be better than he’s shown.
Thus, while I absolutely reject that he’s choking or anything of the sort, the reality is that everybody hand-wringing about the third ace or the fourth ace or whatever is missing the cold truth that none of those spots has really cost the Dodgers in the playoffs recently, and it’s Kershaw who simply needs to be better for the Dodgers to advance. Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered a ton given the offense only supplied one run today, but I do think it’s fair for people to expect Kershaw to be better than this. I’m sure he expects it of himself anyway.
Boy, the recap that started fun is now depressing!
Curtis Granderson came out swinging to lead off the game, lining out hard to right on the first pitch and seemingly setting the tone for the game. David Wright followed by swinging at the first pitch again, but he ended up battling hard for a 12-pitch walk. Both Yoenis Cespedes and David Murphy took first-pitch fastball strikes, bucking what seemed like an aggressive trend, and perhaps uncoincidentally both struck out swinging to end any possibility of a threat. However, Kershaw did have to throw 22 pitches.
Carl Crawford led off the game for the Dodgers with a strikeout, but Howie Kendrick battled a bit and singled sharply into left. Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez both followed with strikeouts, but deGrom’s pitch count was up to 20 and his situation was similar to Kershaw’s after one.
Both sides exchanged zeros in the second the third innings. Kershaw struck out four and allowed just an infield hit and bloop single, while deGrom also struck out four but did run into some trouble through no fault of his own. In back-to-back innings, Michael Cuddyer misplayed balls in left for doubles.
…at least managed to get this face out of him.
And the second…
…got this face from Seager.
Still, deGrom managed to escape as the only other baserunner he allowed was an international walk to Joc Pederson, and laughs aside that’s all that mattered.
In the fourth, Kershaw again struck out two batters, but the Mets got on the board after David Murphy launched a 2-0 fastball that missed in the middle of the plate over the right field fence for a 1-0 Mets lead.
The Dodgers tried to battle back in the bottom of the frame, and managed two singles, but the inning ended when Kershaw flew out to the warning track.
The fifth and sixth innings went similarly for both pitchers. Kershaw struck out three and surrendered only a single, while deGrom also had three strikeouts while setting down the side in order.
Things went sideways for Kershaw in the seventh, as has become the trend in the postseason. Two walks, a bunt by the pitcher, and then a walk to load the bases meant Kershaw was deep in trouble again and at 113 pitches. His night was deemed done, and he finished the game with four hits and four walks allowed in 6.2 innings, striking out 11 batters.
As far as the move goes, Don Mattingly removed him from the game, but that wasn’t necessarily my problem. Kershaw was going through the order a fourth time, he had walked the bases loaded, and Wright has a large platoon advantage. However, putting Pedro Baez in that situation was my problem, as both Chris Hatcher and Kenley Jansen should’ve been on tap. Wright, of course, singled up the middle on a 3-2 count after seeing six straight fastballs, which scored two and staked the Mets to a 3-0 lead.
Really hope he didn't go to Baez because Hatcher is setup man and Kenley is closer.
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) October 10, 2015
deGrom then finished his night with two strikeouts in the bottom of the frame, which gave him 13 strikeouts through seven on 121 pitches. He walked one (intentionally) and only allowed five hits (two of which probably should’ve been caught).
Joel Peralta and Chris Hatcher took care of the eighth and ninth innings, each striking out a batter and taking only 18 pitches combined, which helped keep the Dodgers in the game. In the bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers finally fought back and got on the board against Tyler Clippard thanks to a Kendrick double and a Gonzalez RBI single. But Jeurys Familia came in to shut the door and eventually got the four-out save.
The Dodgers trail the series 1-0 and now basically must win Zack Greinke‘s start tomorrow.
In happier news, look at Yoenis Cespedes’s sleeve work as a damn green screen.