Clayton Kershaw Put NLCS Game 1 Start Behind Him To Help Dodgers Reach Brink Of World Series Berth
Clayton Kershaw, 2018 NLCS
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After the deepest postseason start of his career, Clayton Kershaw had a clunker against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. He bounced back with a stellar effort on Wednesday to put the Los Angeles Dodgers one win from a second consecutive trip to the World Series.


“It’s huge,” Kershaw said of being on the verge of winning the NL pennant. “I think, like you said, it wasn’t as easy maybe as last year to get to this point. Realize we’ve got some work to finish it off and get back. Yeah, if you would have told us in Spring Training we would have a chance to go back to the World Series, one game to go, we definitely would have taken that.”

After facing the minimum through two innings, Kershaw labored to the tune of a 32-pitch third. It saw Milwaukee take a 1-0 lead and load the bases with two outs. Jesús Aguilar battled but ultimately struck out on a slider out of the zone.

“He was fouling off what I thought to be great pitches,” Kershaw said of the pivotal at-bat. “I was trying to stay on the edges as best I could. He’s a great hitter, he had a great year. I was trying to do my best to work the bottom of the zone, work the edges, get him to chase as best I could.

“Once I was able to work out of that, really just tried to focus on getting the next guy, next guy, next guy. And it happened to work out today.”

After struggling to miss bats in Game 1, Kershaw induced 19 swings-and-misses, which were his most in any 2018 start during the regular season or playoffs. He finished with nine strikeouts, reminding that a drop in velocity has not complete reduced him to becoming pitch-to-contact.

“I think he sequenced much better today. He had his arm-side fastball and I think the slider from what I saw with the swings had the depth that we like,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

“You could see the same look that you always see. There’s a determination and when you get a champion like him that gets hit around a little bit, he’s going to respond and that’s what he did.”

Before Kershaw could put the finishing touches on his masterpiece, he was part of a game that took a curious twist when Wade Miley was removed after facing just one batter. He was replaced by Brandon Woodruff, who tossed two innings out of the bullpen and hit a home run off Kershaw in Game 1 of the NLCS.

“Just thinking that I have to get Woodruff out,” Kershaw quipped when asked about the oddity of the Brewers’ decision.

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