Clayton Kershaw took the mound Friday night with a 2-2 record and 5.33 ERA in his previous four starts in Game 1 of a National League Division Series. Although Kershaw wasn’t overly sharp or dominant, he and the Los Angeles Dodgers were well on their way to a win through six innings.
But then Kershaw, who began the seventh at 92 pitches, stumbled and was knocked out of the game. The first out of the inning came on an Adam Rosales line drive to center field. Although an out, it served as further indication trouble was ahead.
Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis followed with back-to-back line-drive home runs to left field that cut the Arizona Diamondbacks’ deficit to 7-4 and forced Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to turn to his bullpen.
They picked up their ace with 2.2 scoreless innings to get Kershaw his first career playoff win at home. That was despite becoming the first Dodgers pitcher to ever allow four home runs in a postseason game, which is tied for most in MLB history.
Kershaw is not expected to pitch again until a potential Game 5 of the NLDS, or in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series if the Dodgers are to advance.
That’s to the dismay of Marte, who predicted the Diamondbacks would double their home run total off Kershaw if they were to face him at Chase Field, per Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY Sports:
“They say the ball doesn’t carry well in this ballpark. I hope we face him in Arizona so we don’t hit four off him but eight,’’ Marte told USA TODAY Sports in Spanish.
That Kershaw surrendered four home runs is a carryover from the regular season. He twice allowed three homers in a start, then was tagged by the New York Mets for a career-worst four home runs, also in 6.1 innings pitched at Dodger Stadium.
Overall, Kershaw’s 23 home runs allowed were seven more than he’d previously given up in a single season. The three-time Cy Young Award winner certainly wasn’t alone in being stung by the long ball. MLB batters combined to shatter the previous record of 5,693 home runs by hitting 6,105.
The Diamondbacks ranked 12th in the Majors with 220 homers, though in no large part to Marte who hit five. He may get his wish if Arizona is able to take a series lead in the NLDS.
Roberts has maintained Alex Wood is the team’s starter for a potential Game 4, and it’s difficult to imagine him deviating from that as it would not be an elimination game for the Dodgers.