The Los Angeles Dodgers edged the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5 in Game 1 of the National League Division Series (GameTracker). The Dodgers now possess a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series, with Game 2 scheduled to take place on Saturday evening from Los Angeles.
Kershaw rides the seesaw
Clayton Kershaw's regular-season excellence has not, to this point in his career, translated to a similarly shiny postseason record. Question the sample size, critique the game logs, but the numbers are the numbers -- and long as the numbers are the numbers, there's going to be a nitpicky contingency who say Kershaw can't handle October's bright lights.
Alas, Kershaw's start in Game 1 won't do much to hush those doubts.
Kershaw came out hot, striking out six of the first nine batters he faced and holding the Diamondbacks without a hit until there were two outs in the third inning. A.J. Pollock broke up the prospective no-hitter with a solo home run, and from there things got shakier.
Kershaw would roll through the Diamondbacks lineup nearly three times in all, yet he'd strike out just one more batter. He would, however, allow three more home runs -- fortunately, for him and the Dodgers, they were all of the solo variety: to J.D. Martinez, to Ketel Marte, and to Jeff Mathis -- yes, Jeff Mathis. By the time Kershaw exited in the seventh, he'd turned a 7-1 swamping into a 7-4 looming save situation.
There's a fair chance that Kershaw won't return this series. Manager Dave Roberts has already gone on record saying the Dodgers will start Rich Hill, Yu Darvish, and Alex Wood the next three times out. As such, Kershaw's latest attempt at October redemption might not come until the first game of the NLCS, provided the Dodgers get that far. Everyone will be watching.
One of the main storylines entering Game 1 concerned the Diamondbacks' starting pitcher situation. Remember, manager Torey Lovullo burned both Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray in the Wild Card Game to get to this point, leaving him to choose between Taijuan Walker, Zack Godley, and Patrick Corbin for the Game 1 start. Lovullo went with Walker. That was a mistake.
Walker lasted just one inning, during which he threw 48 pitches. He allowed four runs on four hits and two walks (one was intentional). Predictably, Walker joined some dubious company:
Taijuan Walker recorded his 1st out after 38 pitches -- 1 shy of the most it took any pitcher to get their 1st out this yr (A. Wainwright).— Inside Edge (@InsideEdgeScout) October 7, 2017
It gets worse. Walker's 19 Game Score represents the worst postseason start in Arizona franchise history -- by a wide margin at that. In fact, prior to Walker's stinker, the worst start was a tie between a Randy Johnson start in 2002 and an Albie Lopez one in 2001. They each scored 32. Walker, then, has a firm grip on the indignity.
Godley saves the pen
If Lovullo had the chance to do it all over again, he likely would've tapped Godley to start the game. Why? Because Godley pitched well in relief. Over five innings, Godley sprinkled six baserunners and two earned runs. He struck out five batters, and, most importantly, spared an Arizona bullpen that was stretched in the Wild Card Game.
If the Diamondbacks go on to win the series -- and the odds aren't in their favor, given 71 percent of teams who have won Game 1 have went on to win the best-of-five series, per an earlier FS1 broadcast -- Godley's preservation act could be a reason why.
Turner, Puig, Seager drive the offense
Those three were the only Dodgers to record multiple hits on the night, with Turner reaching base five times. He also drove in five runs, which tied a franchise record for the most in a postseason game. Puig and Seager also plated two runs of their own. Turner, though, was the star of the show. He reached base four times, including once on a walk and once on a three-run home run that opened the night's scoring.
Contrariwise, the Dodgers received a putrid performance from left fielder Curtis Granderson. He went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. He also left four runners on base. Cody Bellinger, in his first postseason game, recorded a hit and scored a run.
Game 2 awaits
The second game of the series will take place on Saturday night. First pitch is scheduled for around 9:30 p.m. ET. Robbie Ray will try to keep the Diamondbacks from falling into an 0-2 hole. Rich Hill will get the nod for the Dodgers.