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Clayton Kershaw is sublime to complete Dodgers sweep

13 strikeouts in 8 scoreless innings to send LA to the NLDS

National League Wild Card Game 2: Milwaukee Brewers v. Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Robert Beck/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw had one of the best postseason starts of his career, dominating the Brewers for eight innings in a 3-0 victory, completing a Dodgers sweep of the wild card series in two games.

Kershaw struck out 13, setting a season and career playoff high, in eight scoreless innings. Kershaw only allowed three singles on the night, including leadoff hits by Luis Urías in the third inning and Keston Hiura in the fifth. Urías walked in the eighth inning, but Kershaw promptly picked him off.

Kershaw walked one, and threw a first-pitch strike to 24 of his 27 batters faced. That efficiency allowed him to get through eight innings in only 93 pitches.

Most K, Dodgers postseason

Pitcher Series & game Strikeouts
Pitcher Series & game Strikeouts
Sandy Koufax 1963 WS Gm 1 15
Carl Erskine 1953 WS Gm 3 14
Clayton Kershaw 2020 WC Gm 2 13
Clayton Kershaw 2013 NLDS Gm 1 12
Source: Baseball-Reference

The slider was Kershaw’s main weapon, inducing 20 swinging strikes on the pitch, of his 24 total on the night, per Baseball Savant. Kershaw threw 45 sliders, his 48.4-percent rate the second-most frequent he’s thrown the pitch this season, behind only the 48.5 percent against the Padres on September 14, per Brooks Baseball.

“The thing about a good slider is that it just goes straight for a long time, and Clayton’s does that really well,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It stays in the same lane as his fastball, and when it’s right, it has depth.”

It’s the 15th postseason game with double-digit strikeouts in Dodgers history, only topped by Sandy Koufax (15 strikeouts, 1963) and Carl Erskine (14, 1953). The six double-digit strikeout games by Kershaw is the second-most in MLB history, one behind Justin Verlander.

“This was great. This was a fun night for me, to get the postseason off to a good start,” Kershaw said. “And we get to move on.”

This game was a wonderful pitching duel with Brandon Woodruff mowing down the Dodgers into the fifth inning. He struck out nine on the night, but was less efficient than Kershaw. Thirteen of 19 Dodgers batters against Woodruff had took at least two balls.

That included Austin Barnes, who singled up the middle on Woodruff’s 83rd pitch of the game, the third single of the inning, to drive home the game’s first run. Three pitches later, Mookie Betts’ third double of the series made it 3-0, and ended Woodruff’s night.

Barnes, who has caught 10 of Kershaw’s 11 starts this season, had two of the Dodgers’ six hits on the night.

“I just thought tonight Austin just did a great job of staying relaxed, seeing the baseball and not trying to do too much. He took two really good at-bats,” Roberts said.

Up by three in the ninth inning, it was Brusdar Graterol and not Kenley Jansen who came in to close it out. Graterol got the final three outs for the first save of his career.

Game 2 particulars

Home runs: none

WP — Clayton Kershaw (1-0): 8 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 13 strikeouts

LP — Brandon Woodruff (0-1): 4⅔ IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 9 strikeouts

Sv — Brusdar Graterol (1): 1 IP, 1 hit

Up next

The Dodgers have a whopping four days off until the National League Division Series starts on Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. They will play either the Padres or Cardinals in the best-of-five series, with no days off during the series.