Kershaw, Dodgers Look To Seize Control Of Series

NLDS: Cardinals vs. Dodgers
Dodgers Lead Series 1-0
Game 1 Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3
Game 2 Today Dodger Stadium 3:07pm
Game 3 Sat Busch Stadium 3:07pm
Game 4* Sun Busch Stadium TBD
Game 5*   
Oct 13   
Dodger Stadium TBD
*if necessary All times Pacific
All games televised on TBS

The uniqueness of baseball is the daily grind, the unending constant that rewards consistency and longevity.  Over the course of a long season, the cream will almost always rise to the top.  There is some anxiety, but for the most part the regular season is all about the workman-like punching of a time clock every day.  As fans, we can only handle so much stress.  In the regular season, we can remind ourselves to not get too high nor too low, because the game is only one out of 162.

Now come the playoffs.  Last night's game was intense.  It was a four-hour ride of nervousness, all the way to the end.  It was thrilling, an exciting victory, and today we are back at it again.  If the Dodgers make a long run this month, I have a feeling my nerves are going to be shot just after Halloween.

Speaking of shot nerves, we have a pair of pitchers making their first career playoff start today.  Adam Wainwright does have postseason experience; he was a dominant reliever in the Cardinals' 2006 title run, striking out 15 in 9.2 scoreless innings.  He even got the final out of both the NLCS and World Series.

Clayton Kershaw, at 21, is the Dodgers' best pitcher.  But, like on the mound, he is wise beyond his years, as he told Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:

"I'll probably be nervous for sure," he said. "I'm nervous every time I pitch. I think it's how you handle the nerves, how you channel it, how you can use it to your advantage sometimes."

Kershaw amazingly has not won a game since July 18, despite a 2.52 ERA and 2.54 FIP since then.  What better time for his first win than today?  Kershaw has allowed 20 runs in 16 home starts this season.

Last night's win by the Dodgers was just the ninth in their postseason history when the starting pitcher failed to complete four innings.  The Dodgers are 9-29 all-time when their starter doesn't last four, and the last win in such a scenario was Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, when Tim Belcher lasted just two innings, but the Dodgers ended up winning somehow (I don't remember the details).

After winning game one of a playoff series, the Dodgers have won their last three games two.  Their last game two loss after winning game one was Game 2 of the 1981 NLCS, when Ray Burris of the Expos pitched a five-hit shutout.

The Dodgers are 2-6 all-time in games on October 8.  Their best win was the clinching victory over the White Sox in Game 6 of the 1959 World Series, and the worst loss was the Don Larsen perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

**********

Check out Xeifrank's simulation of today's game here.

Game Time: 3:07pm

TV: TBS, but will start on TNT if the Rockies/Phillies game runs long

Baseball Reference Game One Preview

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