Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Embraced ‘Fun’ Wild Card Series Start Amid Peculiar Postseason

Clayton Kershaw turned in a vintage performance Thursday night, seizing an opportunity to pitch the Los Angeles Dodgers into the National League Division Series behind a sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.

After Walker Buehler only managed to go four innings because of his pitch count and the Dodgers aiming to stay ahead of a blister on his right index finger, Kershaw answered the bell with eight dominant and efficient innings in Game 2.

“This was great. This was a fun night for me,” he said after the Dodgers’ 3-0 win. “Getting the postseason off to a good start and we get to move on. It kind of feels like a postseason victory.

“Just with the expanded playoffs, it’s kind of like now the postseason is starting. Nonetheless we still had to do our job, we still had to get there and now we get to get going.”

Kershaw’s fastball velocity was up — in line with what was seen through most of the regular season — his slider had the depth that makes it a devastating pitch and there was also command of the patented curveball.

Of Kershaw’s 13 strikeouts, which set a new postseason career high, 10 came off the slider. “The slider is obviously an important pitch for me,” he said. “You can just tell if you’re getting some depth on it. Last game for example, against the Angels, I was getting a lot of foul balls.

“Even the good ones were getting foul tipped and things like that. The bad ones were getting hit really hard. Tonight, I was getting some swing and miss on it, and the bad ones were getting some foul balls on. It’s a small margin of error but I can see it with my eye, for sure.”

Part of what made the slider so effective against the Brewers was Kershaw adjusting his routine after laboring in his regular season finale. “I just didn’t really feel like I had the arm speed to create the movement that I needed to on that pitch,” Kershaw noted.

“I did a lot of recovery-type things after my last start against the Angels; I think that probably helped a little bit, just to get that arm speed back that you need to get the torque on the slider.”

Kershaw heading home

With the Dodgers advancing to the NLDS, they next will play at Globe Life Field in Dallas, facing either the San Diego Padres or St. Louis Cardinals. The Texas Rangers’ home ballpark is also going to host the NL Championship Series and World Series.

“If you would’ve told me that the first time I’ve ever going to pitch in Texas is in the division series against somebody that’s not the Rangers, it’s the craziest thing ever,” Kershaw said. “I’ve been to [Dallas] a few times, but never actually got to pitch there, so it’s going to be weird. I live literally 10 minutes from the team hotel, so I’m going to be staring at friends and family through a glass wall.

“It’s a weird deal, but the good news is it’s a weird deal for everybody. I think the bubble will be fun; get to actually interact with some people finally, so that’ll be great.”

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