Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Heat is on Dodgers after NLDS Game 1 defeat

Kershaw NLDS 1

By Jon Weisman

A scorching, sweating, exhausting night at Dodger Stadium tore open old wounds.

Once more, the Dodgers received six brilliant innings from Clayton Kershaw, just as they did in both his 2014 playoff starts. And once more, the Dodgers are nursing a bruising defeat.

Mets righty Jacob deGrom struck out 13 in his seven shutout innings (tying Tom Seaver’s 42-year-old postseason franchise record), shut down a few early Dodger threats and carried New York to a 3-1 victory in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

Strikeouts came at a blistering pace. Never before in MLB history had two pitchers in the same postseason game struck out at least 11 batters, and Kershaw got there first. The lefty fanned two batters in each of the first four innings and the side in the fifth.

For deGrom, the first six outs were whiffs, and he had 10 through the fifth inning. The game was barely halfway over, and it was the first time since Game 5 of the 1944 World Series that two playoff pitchers had double-digit strikeouts.

DeGrom allowed six baserunners in his first four innings, but two of those threats came from the bottom of the Dodger order, leaving Kershaw to bat twice with two runners on. Kershaw struck out the first time, but in the fourth, he launched deep drive to left center that Yoenis Cespedes had to run and flag down at the warning track. If only.

Kershaw and the Dodgers desperately needed that drive to land. To start the inning, New York second baseman Daniel Murphy tallied what it appeared might be the only run of the game, a no-doubt 415-foot shot to right field.

For six innings, Murphy was the only Met to make it past first base. Kershaw has now made nine postseason starts, and allowed two runs or less in the first six innings of seven of those nine outings.

His night ended in a teeth-clenching seventh inning, the inning that was twice his downfall in the 2014 playoffs, when he walked Lucas Duda, and one out later, walked Ruben Tejada on a 3-2 pitch, and one out later, walked Curtis Granderson on another 3-2 pitch — Kershaw’s 113th and last of the game.

Pedro Baez entered to face David Wright with the bases loaded. Baez (throwing 97-99 mph) and Wright went to a full count, when Wright then lined one past a diving Howie Kendrick into center field to triple the Mets lead.

It was Baez who replaced Kershaw in Game 1 of the 2014 NLDS and gave up a walk and a three-run home run to Matt Holiday.

DeGrom finished strong, retiring the final 11 batters he faced and striking out pinch-hitter Chase Utley on the 27-year-old’s 121st pitch of the game.

“I thought we did a pretty good job with him of not chasing the change or the breaking ball down,” Don Mattingly said, “but with that you end up chasing some elevated fastballs, and I think he beat us with that a little bit. We had a few chances. We got some runners, (Justin Turner)  got on a couple times. They had a little rally going. We just weren’t able to get that hit early.”

Kershaw’s analysis was more succinct.

“I got outpitched,” Kershaw said. “That’s basically the moral of the story. Jacob pitched an amazing game.”

After reliever Joel Peralta pitched a perfect top of the eighth, the Dodgers broke through against Mets reliever Tyler Clippard on a double by Kendrick and a single by Adrian Gonzalez.

Chris Hatcher then pitched a perfect ninth, bringing up the Dodgers’ final chance. Andre Ethier grounded out, as did pinch-hitter Jimmy Rollins (thanks to a diving stop by Murphy), as did Joc Pederson, and that was the game.

“I think we’re capable of bouncing back because we’ve got Zack Greinke pitching tomorrow,” Ellis said, “and that’s gonna help us, first and foremost. But there are some guys in this clubhouse who have had their backs against the wall. Guys with a lot of pride, who want to come out and even this thing up. We’re not finished with what we want to do this year.”


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  1. If it were easy, I guess it wouldn’t be so exciting. As Winnipeg Dave says, win tomorrow, win one in NYC and win the 5th.

  2. Here we go again Kershaw’s record in post season is now 0 and 5. What the Dodgers need to do is resign Grienke because he is the true ace of the Dodgers, whatever he wants PAY IT, but get him resigned, that is the bottom line; Kershaw does fantastically during the regular season and then loses it during the play offs. Grienke does not have that problem; Unless he doesn’t want to come back the Dodgers have got to sign him.

  3. paulgarzajr

    Another post-season, another 7th inning, another blow-up. It makes it hard to love Dodger blue.

  4. Once again, the proof of Dodgers’ mishandling all season long of one of their best, if not best, assets.
    The number of innings once again at top of league. The head-shaking debacle in the
    division-deciding series weeks ago, already with the first two in the bag, when he threw, what, 130 plus? ( I wrote, at the time, it was bound to show in October).
    Clayton is not paid for demonstrations of ego, or to tell his manager when it is time
    to leave a game.
    And Donnie is not paid to bow to him.
    Said last year BEFORE Cards series: best (and probably only) chance for the
    Lord Fauntleroys was to start Zach in the opener versus Cards. This year, not so
    much a necessity against Mets, but writing was on the wall all season long.
    (The Candy-Store-Kids, for all the moves, all the embarrassing outlays, have not noticeably improved the roster. Bang for buck, a woeful display, putting some of
    Epstein and Cashman’s excesses some years in a much better comparative light – a feat I thought impossible (fascinating that Carl C led off: one of the most over-rated,
    as noted at the time by many observers, players of his generation, garlanded by the
    often-clueless Theo).

    Interesting, too, that in all four games today, plate umpires figured dramatically
    in outcomes (although the TBS electronic zone was awful, when most others have
    been fine this season). Humans cannot do this job consistently well.
    Turn it over to non-TBS machines.

  5. I understand Mattingly’s strategy in starting Crawford and Pederson as LH bats against RH deGrom. However, the results were not good (0-7 with 3K’s and 1 IBB). I think Ruggiano and Hernandez give us better at-bats. His strategy probably won’t change with Syndergaard and Harvey up next.

  6. Guys most if you are blaming Kershaw when it’s the O that needs to be blamed. Is Kershaw supposed to pitch perfect because he would have had to to win last night.
    Mattingly has some blame as well. Joc over Kike was mistake one. I don’t blame him taking Kershaw out after 3 walks in 7th, but Hatcher probably would have been the better choice over Baez who as good as he can be struggles with his command at times.
    Pinch hitting Rollins for AJ when you need a runner in the 9th was also a bad decision. Sure if AJ gets on ( and he along with Howie and turner were only Dodgers with a clue at the plate), then pinch run Rollins for him.
    Also if Joc got on, Grandal was going to come up to hit, much rather have seen Puig on deck. But that turned out not to matter.
    Again going back to Kershaw, the guy was better than deGrom, yet gets rip here. Think people and put the blame where it belongs.

    • It is frustrating to see Mattingly “out-managed” in most games. He definitely needs to use “small ball” to “break the ice” in close, well-pitched games (like last night). For example, in the 4th inning Turner singled, Eithier struck out, Ellis singled to right and then both Pederson and Kershaw flew out. The Dodgers were down 1 run at the time. Bunting Eithier to move Turner to 2nd could have scored a run on Ellis’s single or a sac fly. It also took away a potential double play. Scoring a run there could have changed the complexion of the game. When you put pressure on the defense, good things can happen.

  7. I have said all along that D. Baseball is a terrible strategist. So I didn’t expect a change here. The point is, with his terrible strategizing, the Dodgers won 90+, their division, and home field advantage. Which tells us that the role he plays is in getting them ready to play.

    Were they “ready to play” last night? Of course they were. But last night was another reminder that if Mark McGwire is showing them ways to be better hitters, they aren’t paying attention–and I’ve said that before, too. As for last night’s pitching, deGrom was really good. But if I were one of the members of last night’s Dodger starting lineup, I doubt that I would have the stones to look Kershaw in the eye again. He didn’t “blow up.” He pitched well enough to win–more than well enough. They didn’t deliver. And I’m reminded of the classic Dick Young lead in ye olden days, “The tree that grows in Brooklyn is an apple tree, and the apple is in the throats of the Dodgers.”

  8. oldbrooklynfan

    I doesn’t look like these postseason games get any easier for the Dodgers.

  9. I see most folks are concentrating on the move to Baez with bases loaded. And I agree it was a poor one, given history, and stats (I read that first hitters go .320
    against him). And his propensity to throw fastballs right down Broadway at key moments:-).
    But the key is the continued inability to see what CK is after a regular season of overuse. He’s a six-inning guy, at best. Just another good, but not great, arm.
    So if I’m managing, I’m grateful for the excellent six, and am watching him for
    signs of fatigue, like a hawk, when he starts the seventh.
    IOW, I am Sparky Anderson, Captain Hook, and he’s gone, with a great and well-deserved ovation, after the first walk….
    The org, as a whole, lacks the imagination to understand how diminished Clayton is
    by October. For them, he’s still The ACE, CY YOUNG, NUMBER ONE!!!

    Except, he ain’t.

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