The Dodgers made their first postseason appearance in four years and had their ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound. While Kershaw didn’t face the Braves in the regular season, he owned a 4-0 record with a 2.45 ERA at Turner Field in his career.
Opposing him was Braves ace Kris Medlen, who went 15-11 with a 3.15 ERA on the season as the Braves looked to cash-in in Game 1. Without Andre Ethier, Skip Schumaker took over in center field while Don Mattingly moved Mark Ellis to the second spot in the lineup with Yasiel Puig put in a more run producing spot.
With the Atlanta crowd in full throat to start the first inning, the top of the Dodgers order went 1-2-3 all via the strikeout as Medlen showed he was ready for the challenge. Not to be outdone, Kershaw responded with a dominant bottom of the first, striking out Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman while retiring Justin Upton.
In the second inning, Puig picked up his first career postseason hit with a single up the middle and found himself on third on a Juan Uribe single.
Schumaker would get Puig home on a sacrifice fly and Uribe would ride around on a double from A.J. Ellis in large part to the belly flop from Evan Gattis. After Kershaw put up another zero in the bottom of the second, Carl Crawford got things started with an infield single in the third.
After moving to second with one out, Adrian Gonzalez hit the first pitch he saw from Medlen to dead center and stretched the Dodgers lead to 4-0.
With Kershaw putting up zeroes on the scoreboard, the Dodgers offense wasn’t done as they tacked on another run, this time via an RBI single from Mark Ellis that drove home A.J and the lead was 5-0.
In the bottom of the 4th, the Braves finally broke through with a run, but if there was any other pitcher on the mound, the game would’ve gotten away and the Dodgers still led 5-1.
Kershaw’s pitch count after four was at 77 pitches, but that didn’t stop him from striking out the side in the fifth inning and the Dodgers led 5-1. In the sixth, the Dodgers offense wasn’t satisfied as they tacked on another run via a Hanley RBI double and it was 6-1 Dodgers heading into the bottom of the 6th.
In the bottom half of the inning, Kershaw extended his streak of strikeouts to six-in-a-row before Gattis was robbed of a hit by a nice play from Hanley. Even over 100 pitches, the Dodgers ace battled back from a tough start and gave the Dodgers the kind of outing that’s expected from him.
Already at 104 pitches, Kershaw came on for the seventh inning and promptly struck out the side again. After 124 pitches and seven innings of one-run ball, Kershaw finished the night off with 12 total strikeouts. With the 12 strikeouts, Kershaw is now second behind Sandy Koufax’s 15 K’s in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series for the most strikeouts in a postseason game in playoff history.
Andre Ethier made a pinch-hitting appearance in the eighth inning and grounded out to first, but didn’t show any ill-effects from his severely injured ankle/shin. Brian Wilson made his first Dodgers postseason appearance and promptly had a 1-2-3 inning as the Dodgers were on cruise control heading into the 9th.
Kenley Jansen came on in the bottom of the 9th and the Dodgers took Game 1 from the Braves 6-1 and now lead the best-of-five series 1-0. Zack Greinke will face off against Braves starter Mike Minor tomorrow afternoon as the Dodgers look to take a 2-0 lead.
In case you missed it, here’s the latest on Andre Ethier’s ankle injury.