Veteran Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has been quiet of late after being pushed back to start Game 2 of the playoffs making it the first time since the Dodgers ace was 21 and a second year pro that he did not start the Dodgers first game of the postseason.
He took in that news last Monday after having a conference call with his manager Dave Roberts and Rick Honeycutt the team’s pitching coach, who spoke of the benefits of resting an extra day during the grueling October postseason.
After the conversation, Kershaw publicly said all the right words hardly allowing his hurt feeling to become visible and then watched teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu win Game 1 in dominating fashion over the Atlanta Braves.
Kershaw followed the Game 1 Dodgers win with a longer, more efficient and better pitching gem than he has ever thrown in the postseason.
The Dodgers ace threw eight shutout innings using just 85 pitches to beat the Braves 3-0. The southpaw allowed just two baserunners through eight innings and struck out just three Braves batters but forced Atlanta hitters into making soft contact.
This season Kershaw has had to learn to survive with a fastball in the low-90s following a high workload and nagging back problems. His slider has been his go to pitch and he has lived on the strike zone’s outer edge inducing early contact by hitters.
Los Angeles has now won six straight including two do or die victories at the end of the regular season and became just the second team, the 1921 Yankees are the other, to have shutouts in the first two games of the same postseason.
Kershaw’s teammate Manny Machado, whose two-run first inning homer was the difference in the game, called watching the lefthander on the mound pretty special and even more special playing behind him.
Kershaw took the field for the ninth inning, but just to make the Braves use another pinch-hitter and before throwing any pitches, he left to a huge cheer from the Dodger Stadium faithful as Kenley Jansen entered to post a save.
Kershaw is not upset about being taken out in the ninth. He has faced back issues for three straight seasons that have forced him to the disabled list and finished this season 10-5 with a 2.73 ERA.