The Dodgers took Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night in decisive fashion, and historically that bodes well.
Of the 115 previous World Series, the winner of Game 1 takes the series 62.6% of the time. The Game 1 winner has also won 14 of the last 17 World Series (82.3%), but the Dodgers are familiar with one of the recent exceptions.
Clayton Kershaw was brilliant in Game 1 of the 2017 Fall Classic, striking out 11 in seven innings, giving Los Angeles a 1-0 series lead. What happened next, only the Astros saw coming.
The Dodgers feel they are a better team this year, and are playing like it. They are both mindful of what it takes to accomplish their goal and how close they are to getting it.
“It’s hard not to think about winning, and what that might feel like. But I think that’s what I have to do,” Kershaw said after winning Game 1 this year. “What we have to do as a team is just tomorrow. Just constantly keep putting that in your brain, ‘Tomorrow, win tomorrow, win tomorrow, win tomorrow.’ When you do that three more times, then you can think about it all you want.”
For Kershaw, he found his slider after the first inning, and struck out eight in six innings, allowing only a run on two hits, walking one. It’s the ninth postseason start for Kershaw with at least six innings allowing no more than one earned run and one walk, the most such starts in baseball history, breaking his tie with Curt Schilling and Jon Lester.
Kershaw his postseason has a 2.88 ERA in four starts, with 31 strikeouts against only three walks. The only single postseasons with more strikeouts in franchise history were by Kershaw (33 strikeouts, in 2017) and Orel Hershiser (32 strikeouts, in 1988), both coming in six games, including five starts.
Walker Buehler, who is slated to start Game 3 on Friday, has 29 strikeouts this postseason.
Since 1988, the Dodgers have played in 10 different best-of-7 series, seven of those coming during this run of eight consecutive division titles. This is the third time in those 10 best-of-7 series they won Game 1.
“It all started with Clayton,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He set the tone.”
- Kershaw and the Dodgers’ secret formula for winning Game 1 was Mookie Betts, writes Andy McCullough at The Athletic.
- The Dodgers’ lineup got its kicks in Game 1, writes Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs.
- Kershaw looked like an ace on Tuesday, writes Bradford William Davis at the New York Daily News.
- The Dodgers didn’t need Kershaw at his best to win Game 1, but they got it anyway, writes Alden Gonzalez at ESPN.
- Betts exemplifies why it’s easier to be the Dodgers than the Rays, writes Stephanie Apstein at Sports Illustrated.
- Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly told Bill Shaikin at the Los Angeles Times, “I think we’re looking for 2022 to start to feel normal again, while we work through [the COVID-19 pandemic] in 2021.”
- A note on Betts, who homered in Game 1:
Markus Lynn Betts hit his second career World Series home run tonight. Not surprisingly, he's the only player in MLB history with initials MLB to homer in the World Series.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) October 21, 2020
- Here’s Wednesday morning’s LA Times sports section cover: