Clayton Kershaw: Dodgers Unbeatable When Playing Their Best

Clayton Kershaw gave the Los Angeles Dodgers exactly what they needed in Game 1 of the World Series, holding the Tampa Bay Rays to just one run as he collected eight strikeouts over six innings of an 8-3 win.

Not only did Kershaw’s performance help the Dodgers take Game 1, it was key in resetting the bullpen after heavy usage in the National League Championship Series. On the surface, the left-hander presumably could have given the team more than 78 pitches.

“I just figured he’s going to be on regular (rest) for his next start,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained. “Got an 8-1 lead and with nine outs to go, we’ve got to be able to protect it.”

Kershaw’s outing saw him move up the record books as he now has 201 career strikeouts in the postseason, which is second in MLB history. Justin Verlander sits just ahead with 205 strikeouts all-time in the postseason.

“It was just a great game for the whole team, really,” Kershaw said. “I kept us in it long enough for them to break it open in the fourth or fifth, whatever inning that was. I was fortunate to make it through that first. I was bouncing my slider like 48 feet and didn’t quite make the adjustment until the second inning.

“Fortunate to make it through that, but really after the first, felt pretty good with everything. Just a great game all the way around for us.”

The Dodgers now are just three wins from the franchise’s first championship since 1988. If they play to their potential, Kershaw doesn’t see them being denied a World Series title.

“I mean, if we play at our best, no,” he answered when asked if there is a team who can defeat the Dodgers. “I think we are the best team. I think our clubhouse believes that. There’s going to be certain times where we get beat, and that happens.

“As a collective group, if everybody is doing what they’re supposed to be doing and playing the way they’re supposed to, I don’t see how that can happen.”

Dodgers not getting ahead of themselves

Touted as a heavy World Series favorite heading into the season, it can be easy for the Dodgers to feel the anticipation building. But it’s a feeling Kershaw said they have to suppress.

“It’s hard not to think about winning,” he admitted. “It’s hard not to think about what that might feel like, but I think that’s what we have to do as a team, just tomorrow. Constantly keep putting that in your brain: win tomorrow, win tomorrow, win tomorrow, win tomorrow.

“You do that three more times, then you can think about it all you want. It is hard not to let that creep in, but I know I’m going to pitch again this series and I know we’ve got three more games to win.”

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