LOS ANGELES -- There was at least one other person at Dodger Stadium besides the fans and media who was counting how many strikeouts Clayton Kershaw had today.
"I was counting from the first strikeout, I knew what we needed to get to, I knew where his pitch count was at," starting catcher A.J. Ellis said. "I was just hopeful with two strikes, he would be able to execute two-strike pitches to have the strikeouts keep piling up."
"You get two strikes, you are going to call the best option and [Kershaw's] best option has strikeout potential," Ellis said. "I know it meant it a lot to him although he lied and said it didn't before."
Kershaw thought getting 300 strikeouts was "pretty cool" and it is always a "tremendous honor to be associated with Sandy Koufax" but he was thinking beyond today's start.
"If my pitch count had gotten [to my limit] before I had six strikeouts, I would have come out of the game," Kershaw said. "The playoffs are more important than the strikeouts."
Looking back at this season, Kershaw was pleased that he was able to pitch a complete season. "Last year was frustrating to me just missing that month," Kershaw said. "Getting to go out 32 times, getting to throw some innings, that it is what I take pride in."
Don Mattingly laughed about how Kershaw went out of the game so easily for Sunday manager Jimmy Rollins, "he went out smiling, I have not seen Kershaw smiling on the field in five years."
After being informed that the last time someone reached 300 strikeouts was in 2002, Mattingly commented on Kershaw's season and getting 300 strikeouts.
"Obviously another special season for Clayton, just a tremendous year, he just keeps marching along," Mattingly said. "It was good to see him get it, it was good to see him get it quick."
Ellis reflects on season and upcoming playoffs
"Excited" was the word A.J. Ellis said when talking about the upcoming playoffs. Ellis especially likes who the Dodgers have at the top of their playoff rotation.
"Last year, Clayton was an MVP caliber pitcher and Zack was really, really good but Zack has elevated his game to be a top-five pitcher in our sport, Ellis said. So the Dodgers have "two of the top five pitchers in our sport and we are hopefully seeing those guys, six times, eight times in the post-season."
Ellis likes his team going into the playoffs and senses they are better than prior playoff teams he has been on.
"We're a very resilient group, the way we fought all season long especially at the end of ballgames, the way we have come back from behind and win some games," Ellis said. "We're mentally tough and maybe stronger as a unit than perhaps we were in the past."
National League team leader in home runs
With three home runs today, the Dodgers hit 187 home runs to finish one ahead of Colorado Rockies and lead the National League for the first time since 1983.
Dodgers lead Majors in home attendance for third straight season
The Dodgers finished the season with their third highest total attendance in club history (3,764,815) behind 2007 and last season.