The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a hole. They have found themselves down 1-0 to the New York Mets in the NLDS. The game is at 9 p.m. EST Saturday, in the friendly confines of Dodger Stadium. Cy Young candidate Zack Grienke will take the mound for the Dodgers and Noah Syndergaard for the Mets.
Grienke’s teammate, fellow Cy Young contender Clayton Kershaw, pitched a gem. Kershaw held the Mets to three runs, but received little help from his teammates in the game. The Mets’ Jacob deGrom outlasted Kershaw, handing the victory to New York.
The Dodgers seemed to have the game plan in place. Start Kershaw in Game 1 over league ERA champion Zack Greinke because the three-time Cy Young winner has a better chance of comeback on three days rest for a possible Game 4. Greinke would then be fully rested for Game 5. The rotation was set and looked to be one the Dodgers could count on.
Kershaw has yet to prove he can deliver in October, like he does during the regular season. According to USA Today, his five consecutive postseason losses represent the longest streak in club history. Clayton had little to say about the game, but sounded like he was ready to redeem the loss.
“I got outpitched. That’s basically the moral of the story.”
Kershaw pitched like a man on a mission. His only mistake during the game was giving up a fourth inning home run to Daniel Murphy. He gave up one run during six innings of work. The disaster struck when the Dodgers bullpen couldn’t save his performance. Kershaw struck out 11 and pitched well enough to win the game.
The Dodgers have made three consecutive trips to the playoffs, for the first time in franchise history. Each year they have won the NL West. But the club is 6-9 in the postseason during that time span. The game Saturday has them fighting an uphill battle, once more. Los Angeles lost its third straight postseason game, having been beaten in four games by St. Louis in last year’s NLDS. The Dodgers lost the final two games, with Kershaw tagged for the loss while pitching on three days’ rest in Game 4.
Unlike Kershaw, Grienke has no problem duplicating his regular season during the post season. In four starts, spanning the last two years, Greinke has posted a 1.93 ERA while averaging seven innings per start.
Jacob deGrumb seemed to thrive on the excitement of the game. He struck out 13 batters over a scoreless seven innings. He seemed to get stronger as the game wore on. His performance tied the Mets’ franchise record, set by Tom Seaver, in Game 1 of the 1973 NL Championship Series.
“Before the game I was pretty nervous,” said deGrom, who at 27-years-old is just in his second major-league season. “But once I got out there warming up, I kind of settled down. It really went away after the first pitch I threw.”
The game was a historical event for both pitchers. Through six innings of Game 1, Kershaw and deGrumb had both struck out 11 batters. This marked the second time in baseball history that two pitchers, in the same game, struck out more than 10 batters apiece in a playoff game.
Mets manager Terry Collins was more than thankful for the effort put in by deGrumb. As reported by the New York Daily News, the game was a needed lift for the Mets.
“This game is all about confidence. To have him go out there against Clayton tonight and win the game is a huge lift for us. This is a good start for a team that hadn’t been in the postseason in a long time. We needed a confidence boost and Jake gave it to us.”
[Photos by Stephen Dunn, Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images]