The year of the long ball has yet to cease its reign this season, the 2017 MLB Playoffs have not been spared so far. Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw came into tonight’s start having allowed a career-high 23 home runs this season. Tonight’s game was no different, he gave up bombs. A potent Diamondbacks lineup has used offense all year to stake their claim as a force in the National League.
Their only chance, be aggressive
The Diamondbacks came out swinging to start the game. Three of the first four batters swung at the first pitch Kershaw threw. That aggression would pay off later for them as four of their overall five hits against Kershaw came off swinging at the first pitch. Three of those first pitch swings landed the ball over the fence. Kershaw allowed four homers overall tonight, but he otherwise seemed to dominate with location and sharp breaking stuff.
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Not all about the line
Kershaw tossed (6.1 IP, 5 Hits, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7K) in 100 pitches. An overall decent line that won’t reflect how well he threw tonight. All of Kershaw’s pitches were working, the fastball was hitting the glove, slider and curveball had a nice bite. But, the mistakes came when he caught too much plate on the first pitch. Working with a big lead from the second inning on allowed him the cushion to be human.
Bats to the rescue
Arizona starting pitcher Taijuan Walker was chased from the game after only one inning pitched where he faced to every single batter once. He gave up a big 3-run homer to Justin Turner (3-4, HR, 5 RBIs) after putting the first two runners Chris Taylor (1-4, 2 R) and Cody Bellinger (1-5, 1 R) on base. That JT bomb set the tone for the Dodgers for the rest of the game with a 4-0 lead after the 1st inning.
Kept their foot on the gas. The only two starters who did not get a hit were Catcher Yasmani Grandal and Leftfielder Curtis Granderson, each were hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts. But even Kershaw got a base hit! There was awesome baserunning by Cody Bellinger, Taylor, Turner, and then that crazy tongue-wagging triple in the bottom of 7th by Yasiel Puig. Scoring two runs off a Corey Seager triple following a clutch Austin Barnes pinch-hit in the bottom of the 8th inning solidified the lead for good. Closer Kenley Jansen was already up warming his arm when Seager hit that triple, so manager Dave Roberts brought him in anyway to let him in on the fun. Kenley gave up an unearned run, which led the game culminating in a 9-5 Dodger victory.
The Dodgers face Arizona starter Robbie Ray in Game 2 tonight. He has owned them at Dodger Stadium to the tune of striking out 37 batters in only 19.2 innings. All while allowing only 2 earned runs that yields 0.92 ERA. On the mound for the Dodgers is Rich Hill who owns a 2.77 ERA in 78 IP at home, and has been stellar of late posting a 1.86 ERA in 29.0 September innings striking out 40 batters.
The Dodgers need to replicate what they did in Game 1. Draw first blood with the bats, run the bases like they are playing to win, and pitch well enough to protect the lead. The way starting pitching has been this postseason, the Dodgers need to get to Ray and score as much as possible. Having the Diamondbacks on the ropes is what they need, and they need continue to impose their will. Big hits and momentum will keep carrying this team far.