We’ve heard it before, countless times, and from Dodger fans just as often as not: “Sure, Clayton Kershaw is good, but he can’t hack it in the postseason.” There was so much talk along these lines, people started believing in a “Seventh Inning Curse”. Good, Dodger Blue loving folks, resisted the idea that Kershaw was as great as he is, because of his past playoff breakdowns.
Yesterday, in Game One of the 2017 World Series, under the hottest temperature ever recorded for a WS game, on the largest stage there exists in his chosen profession, Clayton Kershaw laid those skeletons to rest. Forever. The man we have called “Kid K” for so many years finally made it to the Fall Classic, and boy, oh boy, he did not disappoint.
Kershaw is certainly the greatest pitcher of our generation, but the man is human. He’s been dogged by an aging back over the past couple of seasons, and his 2017 home runs allowed (23) were the highest he’s surrendered in his career. Add all of that to the doubters as he strode toward the mound for the first pitch, and the stage was set for high drama.
Before the game, the message board in the Dodgers’ clubhouse served up a Mike Tyson quote:
“Everyone’s got plans…till they get hit in the mouth! Hit these boys in their f—n mouths and don’t look back!”
Kershaw must have thought about these very words as he unleashed his southpaw powers and struck out the first batter he faced on three straight pitches. He then proceeded to mow down the next two Astros. Kershaw let Houton have it right on the kisser and he was on his way to one of the greatest World Series performances from a Dodger in history.
Game One was one of the fastest World Series games ever played, and that was partly due to Kershaw’s efficiency. Clayton dominated the Astros across seven innings. He only had two three-ball counts all night. He struck out 11 and gave up just 3 hits (including a solo home run for the Astros’ lone score) on 83 pitches.
Remember this, the Houston Astros are not a group of slugs. They bring one of baseball’s most potent offenses to the series, and Kershaw punched them unmercifully in the mouth, all game long. He used his sliders and fastballs like a surgeon, slicing off edges of the strike zone, constantly frustrating batters. Kershaw took advantage of the home plate umpire’s funky strike zone and used Public Enemy Number One, his curve ball, with deadly accuracy. His performance was thing of beauty, and a sublime pleasure to watch.
When the dust had settled, Kershaw had finished as the first pitcher in history to strike out ten or more, while walking none, and giving up three hits or less. He’s also the first Dodger since Sandy Koufax (1965) to strike out ten or more in the World Series.
Clayton Kershaw delivered a ferocious blow for Los Angeles last night. No other pitcher had struck out more than ten Astros all season. He not only dismantled Houston’s offense, he punched his October demons squarely in the mouth, finishing them off, once and for all.