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Clayton Kershaw brilliant as Dodgers take Game 1 of the World Series

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World Series - Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES —- Clayton Kershaw was brilliant in his World Series debut, striking out 11, and was backed by the power of the NLCS co-MVPs in the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the Astros in Game 1 on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Astros offense had the fewest strikeouts in baseball during the regular season, 18.7% less than the major league average. But Kershaw carved them up, needing only 83 pitches to get through his seven innings.

“To me, this was his masterpiece,” Brandon McCarthy said.

His 11 strikeouts were the most by any pitcher against the Astros this season, and just the third double-digit K performance against them in 2017.

Most Dodgers strikeouts in a World Series game

Pitcher Year/Game Opponent K
Pitcher Year/Game Opponent K
Sandy Koufax 1963 Game 1 Yankees 15
Carl Erskine 1953 Game 3 Yankees 14
Clayton Kershaw 2017 Game 1 Astros 11
Don Newcombe 1949 Game 1 Yankees 11
Don Drysdale 1965 Game 4 Twins 11
Source: Baseball-Reference

“Honestly, [Game 5] he pitched in Chicago, the execution was there, and he really just carried it over,” said catcher Austin Barnes. “From the bullpen on, he was executing pitches. He had his good mix, and his good slider, and came at people with the fastball.”

Game 1 was the 14th double-digit strikeout game by a Dodgers pitcher in the postseason, and the fifth by Kershaw, one shy of his career high set in Game 1 of the 2013 NLDS.

Chris Taylor got things started off right for the Dodgers, hitting the first pitch of the first inning of the first game for a home run, and an early Dodgers lead.

“It always helps to get off to a good start,” Taylor said. “Takes a little bit of pressure off and makes it fun when you jump on it like that early and get a lead.”

Alex Bregman hit a solo home run of his own in the fourth inning. What a difference four years makes!

It was the seventh home run allowed by Kershaw in his four postseason starts in 2017. He has allowed eight total runs in those starts.

Kershaw’s ERA this postseason is 2.96.

Dallas Keuchel settled down after Taylor’s home run, and was cruising into the sixth inning. He retired 10 in a row until a two-out walk to Taylor in the sixth. Justin Turner followed with a two-run shot to left field, continuing his sublime postseason to give Kershaw and the Dodgers the lead.

Turner has four home runs this season and 14 RBI, the latter a franchise record for RBI in one postseason. Turner also has 26 RBI in his postseason career, matching Duke Snider for most in Dodgers franchise history. Turner has played in 27 postseason games, nine fewer than Snider.

Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen followed Kershaw with more zeroes to close out the Dodgers’ eighth win in nine games this postseaosn. The bullpen has an MLB-record 25 consecutive scoreless innings.

Game 1 info

Home runs: Chris Taylor (3), Justin Turner (4); Alex Bregman (3)

WP - Clayton Kershaw (3-0): 7 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 11 strikeouts

LP - Dallas Keuchel (2-2): 6⅔ IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Sv - Kenley Jansen (4): 1 IP, 1 strikeout