How the Dodgers Won World Series Game 1, Inning by Inning
The days of people writing off Clayton Kershaw as merely a dominant regular season pitcher are officially over. The ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers struck out 11 batters in a classic performance in Game 1 of the World Series, leading his team to a 3-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
Kershaw was masterful all game, repeatedly getting called strike threes as the powerful batters of the Astros had no answer for his array of pitches. He likely could have pitched far deeper into the game, but with the Dodgers’ formidable bullpen healthy and available, there was no need to stretch the team’s ace. He ended up allowing just three hits over seven innings and became the first Dodgers pitcher since Sandy Koufax in 1965 to reach double-digits in strikeouts in a World Series game. His lone blemish on the day was a solo home run by Alex Bregman in the fourth inning.
In an on-field interview after the game, Kershaw said he made a case for himself to stay in the game after the seventh inning, but relented when Manager Dave Roberts said he preferred to make a change.
“With our bullpen it doesn’t matter,” Kershaw said. “I told him I was good to go but how can you argue with what B-Mo and Kenley are doing back there?”
Dallas Keuchel, the ace left-hander for the Astros, looked nearly as sharp for much of the game, but he put himself in a hole by allowing a solo home run to Chris Turner on his first pitch of the game, and the game slipped away from him in the sixth inning when Justin Turner hit a two-run home run that provided plenty of room for Kershaw.
Brandon Morrow pitched a perfect eighth inning for Los Angeles and Kenley Jansen came in for the ninth to close things out.
Game 2 will be Wednesday night, with Justin Verlander of the Astros expected to start against Rich Hill of the Dodgers.
Waldstein: Dodgers fans on their feet waving to their heroes as a steamy night comes to a close.
Dating back to 1981, The Dodgers have won 9 of their last 10 World Series games. They won the last 4 against the Yankees in ’81 and beat the A’s in 5 games in 1988, and take Game 1 of the 2017 World Series. The Astros are 0-5 in World Series games (they went 0-4 in 2005). Houston needs a big game from Justin Verlander, especially since Yu Darvish is pitching Game 3 for L.A., and he has a history of dominating the Astros.
The game finished in a remarkable 2 hours and 28 minutes. That is two minutes shorter than their last World Series game in 1988.
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Here’s how the Dodgers won Game 1 of the World Series:
Top 1st: Clayton Kershaw delivers …
The 2017 World Series is underway. The first pitch of Game 1 was thrown by Clayton Kershaw at 8:11 p.m. Eastern. The 94 mile-per-hour fastball was fouled off by George Springer.
Kershaw finished Springer off in four pitches, striking him out on a slider that dove toward the center fielder’s feet. Alex Bregman flew out to left, and Jose Altuve grounded out to shortstop, giving Kershaw a perfect inning on just nine pitches. Seven of his nine pitches were strikes.
Waldstein: Clayton Kershaw looking sharp at the outset. As colleague Tyler Kepner pointed out, he recorded three outs on his three pitches: Fastball, slider, curve. Kepner, who is sitting beside me and will have fascinating insight all game, also noted that as much as people laud Kershaw’s curveball, his slider is really his most devastating pitch.
Bottom 1st: Taylor puts Dodgers on the board.
Chris Taylor got the Dodgers on the board first, hitting Dallas Keuchel’s first pitch of the World Series well over the left field wall for a 1-0 lead.
The breakout performer for the Dodgers, who has firmly established himself as the team’s leadoff batter, was sitting on a fastball and got one right down the middle.
Keuchel settled down to strike out Justin Turner on seven pitches. Cody Bellinger was retired on a groundout to second, and Yasiel Puig grounded out to short to end the inning. For 10 of Keuchel’s 11 pitches he looked dominant, but he can’t get back that first offering to Taylor.
Top 2nd: Kershaw cruises through middle of order.
Staked to a lead, Clayton Kershaw started off the inning by retiring Carlos Correa on a fly ball to center field. He caught Yulieski Gurriel sleeping on a 94 mile-per-hour fastball that sailed right through the zone for strike three. And then he induced a ground ball from Brian McCann which second baseman Logan Forsythe fielded in shallow right field before throwing him out to end the inning.
Kepner: The Dodgers’ ballpark organist played a few bars of “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones after Kershaw painted the black (hit the corner) to strike out Yuli Gurriel in the top of the second. Pretty sharp.
Bottom 2nd: Keuchel settles in after early disaster.
Dallas Keuchel has continued to look strong since his first pitch of the game went for a home run. Kike Hernandez got things started in the half-inning by singling to left but Corey Seager, making his return to the team after missing the N.L.C.S. with back trouble, grounded into an easy double-play to erase the threat. Logan Forsythe was nearly out on a foul pop to right field that a diving Josh Reddick couldn’t handle, but on the next pitch he ended the inning by popping out to center.
Top 3rd: Astros get a base runner, but that’s it.
The Astros got their first hit of the game, but they were not able to do anything with the base runner.
Clayton Kershaw started the inning by getting another called strike three, this time to Marwin Gonzalez, but Josh Reddick, the former Dodger, followed that up with a hard grounder to right that scooted just past Cody Bellinger’s glove for Houston’s first hit.
Dallas Keuchel, who seemed lost trying to bunt Reddick over to second, ended up striking out on a foul bunt attempt, and then George Springer flailed at strike three to end the inning. Kershaw now has five strikeouts.
Kepner: Josh Reddick went 0 for 22 before his first hit in the ALCS. So, naturally, he gets a left-on-left single against Kershaw in his first at-bat of the World Series. The fans here have been booing Reddick every chance they get, as he predicted. They didn’t like him when he played here last year, and the feeling apparently is mutual.
That’s 5 strikeouts in 10 batters for Kershaw: two on sliders, two on fastballs, and one on a curveball. Even more impressive considering that the Astros had the fewest strikeouts in the majors this season.
Bottom 3rd: Taylor hits it hard again. Too hard.
The leadoff batter for the Dodgers reached for the third consecutive inning, as Austin Barnes hit a grounder through the infield into shallow left for a single. Clayton Kershaw, who has considerably more experience as a batter than Dallas Keuchel, showed him how the National League does things with a bunt that sent Barnes to second. But Chris Taylor, who started the game with a home run on the first pitch he saw, ended the inning by hitting a rope to shortstop Carlos Correa, who easily doubled Barnes off second base to end the inning.
Kepner: It hardly seemed likely at the time, but the Dodgers got two Game 1 World Series starters in the same deal in Dec. 2014: Enrique Hernandez and Austin Barnes. The Dodgers got those two, plus pitchers Chris Hatcher and Andrew Heaney, from the Marlins for Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas.
Top 4th: Bregman takes Kershaw deep.
The game is tied. Alex Bregman took Clayton Kershaw’s third pitch of the inning over the wall in left-center for a home run, evening the score at 1-1. It was the seventh home run that Kershaw has allowed this postseason. Going back to the regular season, he has now allowed at least one homer in nine consecutive games. After allowing Bregman’s blast, Kershaw got consecutive called strike threes on Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, with home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi giving him some help on a low slider that retired Altuve. Yulieski Gurriel swung helplessly at a slider to end the half-inning, and Kershaw is up to eight strikeouts.
Waldstein: I spoke to Carlos Beltran yesterday and he was raving about Bregman. Beltran said Bregman just has an unquenchable thirst for the game and always wants to talk baseball. They often go over video of pitchers and Beltran said sometimes they do their video scouting back at the hotel. Bregman picked a really good guy to learn from.
Bregman, at 23 years and 208 days, became the youngest American League player to hit a home run in the World Series since Manny Ramirez for Cleveland against Atlanta in 1995. Ramirez was 60 days younger.
Bottom 4th: Dodgers struggle to hit Keuchel hard.
It was a remarkably quiet half-inning for the Dodgers. Justin Turner popped out to first, Cody Bellinger grounded out to first, and Yasiel Puig grounded out to short. Dallas Keuchel continues to induce soft contact to great effect.
Kepner: He’s one section out of view from the center field cameras, but Scott Boras, the powerful agent who sits directly behind home plate in Anaheim, is here in the front row just to the third-base side of the plate. Boras represents both team’s No. 3 hitters — Jose Altuve and Cody Bellinger. Neither has hit free agency yet; Bellinger is a rookie, and the Astros control Altuve’s rights on a bargain deal (signed with a different agent) through 2019. Here are Altuve’s salaries: 2014: $1.25M, 15: $2.5M, 16: $3.5M, 17: $4.5M, 18: $6M club option, 19: $6.5M club option.
Top 5th: Kershaw and Keuchel are dueling.
This game has settled into a solid pitcher’s duel (minus the two solo homers) and it continued with Clayton Kershaw having yet another perfect inning. Brian McCann grounded right into the shift to start things off, and then Kershaw got some help from his defense when Justin Turner handled an awkward bounce on a grounder from Marwin Gonzalez, throwing out Gonzalez easily at first. Kershaw then ended the half-inning by freezing Josh Reddick with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball for strike three.
Waldstein: With two good pitchers doing their thing — minus one home run each — this game is moving along at a rapid pace. Kershaw is getting strikeouts and Keuchel inducing ground balls. Kershaw has nine strikeouts already against the team that struck out the least in baseball. His stuff is very crisp.
Bottom 5th: Double play gets Keuchel out of inning.
Dallas Keuchel got his second strikeout of the game on a changeup to Kike Hernandez. Corey Seager followed that up by looping a single into shallow center, but Keuchel was able to get out of trouble quickly thanks to Logan Forsythe grounding into a double play to end the inning. Keuchel has been efficient all game, and has thrown just 55 pitches in five innings. Kershaw is at 66.
Waldstein: Alex Bregman starts another double play, the third for the Astros through five innings, two of which were initiated by Bregman. I am sure most fans can guess why he wears No. 2. Like most players today, it is because of Derek Jeter. Bregman said his mother was a Yankees fan, and even though he rooted against the Yankees, he always rooted for Jeter.
Top 6th: Kershaw records 11th strikeout.
Dallas Keuchel’s misadventures at the plate continued, with the American League hurler waving at one strike, and then watching two more before sitting down as Clayton Kershaw’s 10th strikeout victim. In a moral victory, he drew two balls before being retired.
George Springer was strikeout No. 11 on a changeup that was nearly in the dirt, and Alex Bregman ended the half-inning with a groundout to short.
Kershaw is the first Dodgers pitcher to have double-digit strikeouts in a World Series game since Sandy Koufax had 10 in Game 7 of the 1965 Series.
Waldstein: As if Kershaw was not already dominating with his curve, slider and fastball, he drops a rare changeup on Springer for his 11th strikeout. He has retired nine in a row since the Alex Bregman home run. He is averaging an extremely efficient 11 pitches per inning, especially impressive considering all the strikeouts.
Bottom 6th: Turner’s shot gives Kershaw a cushion.
Justin Turner hit a two-run home run to left field, giving the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.
Dallas Keuchel needed just one pitch to get the first out of the half-inning, retiring Austin Barnes on a grounder to short. Clayton Kershaw also grounded out to short, but then Chris Taylor walked on five pitches. Turner made Keuchel pay for the base runner by crushing an 87 mile-per-hour cutter over the wall, with the crowd in Dodger Stadium exploding in cheers for the popular player.
Keuchel was able to get out of the inning without any further trouble by striking out Cody Bellinger, but with the way Kershaw has been pitching, a two-run lead feels gigantic.
Waldstein: Turner picks up where he left off. The last game here was Game 2 of the N.L.C.S. and Turner hit a walk-off, three-run home run to win Game 2 of that series. Tonight he blasts a two-run shot after Keuchel made the big mistake of walking Chris Taylor ahead of him with two outs. Turner has 4 home runs in the postseason, tied for second-most by a Dodger. Davey Lopes had the most, 5, in 1978.
I think Turner is going to tie Lopes’s record. He also has 26 career postseason R.B.I. for the Dodgers. That ties Duke Snider, who collected all of his in the World Series. For Turner, 14 of his postseason R.B.I. have come this year, establishing a new Dodgers single-season postseason record. And yes, the Mets let him go for nothing.
Top 7th: Dodgers’ miscue doesn’t cost Kershaw.
Jose Altuve singled on a hard grounder to left but was not on the bases long, as Carlos Correa grounded into a force-out that erased him at second. The Dodgers nearly had a double-play to end the inning after Clayton Kershaw’s first pitch to Yulieski Gurriel was grounded softly to short, but Corey Seager fumbled the transfer and was lucky for Logan Forsythe to recover the ball at second for one out. The mistake — which will not go down as an error because a double play cannot be assumed — did not end up mattering as Brian McCann flew out to center to end the half-inning.
Waldstein: Kershaw, who needed only 83 pitches to get through 7 innings, is getting handshakes in the dugout.
This game continues to move right along as if it were 1978 — or 1988, for that matter. In fact, the last World Series game here was Game 2, ’88 between the Dodgers and the Oakland A’s. That one took 2 hours and 30 minutes as Orel Hershiser followed up Kirk Gibson’s famous home run in Game 1 by throwing a 3-hit shutout as the Dodgers won Game 2, 3-0. That is what made Gibson’s home run so important against the great Dennis Eckersley. The Dodgers had Hershiser coming back in Game 2.
But that’s history. Here, the Astros are in jeopardy of losing their fourth straight road postseason game.
Bottom 7th: Astros turn to their bullpen.
An entertaining duel of former Cy Young Award winners will now move on to the bullpens.
Dallas Keuchel got an easy out from Yasiel Puig, who hit a soft comebacker to the mound, and then retired Kike Hernandez on a grounder to short. But Corey Seager singled over Carlos Correa’s head into shallow center, making him 2 for 3 in his first game back from injury, and that ended Keuchel’s day.
Astros Manager A.J. Hinch turned to Brad Peacock for the third out of the inning, but the reliever walked the first batter he faced, Logan Forsythe, before ending things by getting Austin Barnes to fly out to center.
Keuchel’s final pitching line was six and two-thirds innings, six hits, three earned runs and three strikeouts. He allowed two home runs.
As the Dodgers were batting, teammates were approaching Clayton Kershaw to congratulate him for his effort. He is expected to be relieved at the top of the 8th inning by Brandon Morrow, and if so his final line for the day is seven innings, three hits, one earned run and 11 strikeouts. He threw just 83 pitches, with the lone blemish on the day being Alex Bregman’s solo home run.
Top 8th: Dodgers’ Morrow fills in nicely for Kershaw.
Brandon Morrow came in for Clayton Kershaw and he kept the Dodgers rolling. Marwin Gonzalez flew out softly to left, Josh Reddick hit a ball deep into foul territory that was tracked down by Kike Hernandez, and pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran grounded out to first to end the half-inning.
Waldstein: Kershaw is redefining his spotty postseason history. He came into this game with a 6-7 postseason record and a 4.40 earned run average in 17 postseason starts. His 2017 postseason E.R.A. is 2.96 and he could end up with a 3-0 record.
Bottom 8th: Astros’ bullpen keeps it close.
Chris Devenski relieved Brad Peacock to start the eighth and he struck out pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson on four pitches. Devenski got a second out with some help from his defense, as George Springer ranged far to his right to snare a fly ball from Chris Taylor, and Devenski ended the inning by striking out Justin Turner on a foul tip to the catcher.
The Dodgers are three outs away from victory and will send out Kenley Jansen to try to close out the game.
Waldstein: The Astros won Game 4 of the American League division series in Boston, but since then they lost three road games at Yankee Stadium and are three outs from losing here at Dodger Stadium. Obviously, they can’t win the World Series if they don’t win at least one game on the road.
Meanwhile, former Met Justin Turner stands at the plate and many of the 53,253 fans here chant, “M.V.P., M.V.P.” What an transformation.
Top 9th: Kenley Jansen puts the Astros away.
The Dodgers believe deeply in their bullpen, and the confidence was on display when Clayton Kershaw was removed after seven innings having thrown just 83 pitches. Brandon Morrow pitched a perfect eighth and Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ closer, came on for the ninth and got things started by catching George Springer looking at a 92 mile-per-hour cutter in the upper part of the zone for strike three. Alex Bregman, who had provided Houston’s only run of the game with his solo homer off Kershaw in the fourth inning, flew out to center after a hard-fought eight-pitch at-bat. Then Jansen officially closed Houston out by retiring Jose Altuve on a fly ball to right.