World Series Game 1 Deep Dive: Dodgers’ Offense Comes Through For Kershaw Who Dazzles

Photo Credit: @MLBStats on Twitter

After a grueling seven-game NLCS, it was nice to see the Dodgers take a commanding lead, keep it and cruise to an 8-to-3 victory in Game One of the World Series.

It wasn’t just that they won the first game, but it was how they did it that impressed me the most. Clayton Kershaw threw a gem, Mookie Betts wreaked havoc on the bases (plus hit a home run) and the offense struck while the iron was hot.

Let’s take a deep dive in the key moments from tonight, shall we?

Clayton Kershaw, Take That, America

Clayton Kershaw resembled America’s most skilled butcher Tuesday night as he carved up the Tampa Bay Rays in Game One. After a somewhat wild first inning, Kershaw cruised through six frames of one-run, two-hit baseball while striking out eight batters along the way. His only blemish was a solo shot in the fifth, but overall Kershaw had his devastating slider working and picked up 19 swings-and-misses out of the 78 pitches he threw.

Just goes to show you what Kershaw is capable of if you provide him with a ton of run support and his manager takes him out of the game at the right moment. Also, Kershaw is now “tied for the 2nd-most postseason games (six) with eight-plus strikeouts and one earned run or fewer,” according to MLB Stats on Twitter. The two guys he’s tied with are Curt Schilling and former Dodger Josh Beckett.

Removing Kershaw

Some on Twitter were complaining that Roberts may have removed Kershaw too early. The reason for that sentiment was because the Rays were able to get a couple of runs off the relievers who replaced Kershaw in the seventh inning. This is 100% the wrong way to look at that. Roberts made the absolute correct call.

Kershaw had done his job (once again) and had the Dodgers not scored two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, then he probably would have gone out for the seventh. As it was though, the Dodgers had an 8-to-1 lead, Roberts didn’t want to possibly burn Kershaw or any of his high-leverage relievers so he brought in Dylan Floro.

Floro didn’t pitch well. He gave up a single and a double and forced Roberts to bring in Victor Gonzalez who didn’t do much better. Gonzalez allowed both of Floro’s runs to score by giving up back-to-back hits, but eventually made a miraculous play by catching a line drive and doubling the runner at second.

The fact is, this was on Floro and Gonzalez. We simply need them to pitch better, but especially Floro. He should be able to hold an 8-1 lead and Kershaw deserves to have his win protected.

Mookie Betts Is Fast

The Dodgers stole a combined three bases Tuesday night, two of them were by Mookie Betts, which he stole in the same inning. I loved the way the Dodgers were aggressive on the bases. That’s one of the things I felt they lacked in the NLCS: the ability to force the issue and put pressure on the other team’s pitcher.

In the fifth inning the Dodgers were leading 2-to-1, but had Rays’ starter Tyler Glasnow on the ropes. He had thrown a lot of pitches and didn’t have his command. Glasnow’s fifth walk of the game was issued to Betts to begin the frame and Betts proceeded to steal second. Then after Seager walked, he and Betts pulled off a double steal moving up to second and third on the Justin Turner strikeout. Glasnow was already up over 100 pitches and his manager Kevin Cash left him out there for some reason.

The next batter was Max Muncy who chopped one to first baseman Yandy Diaz, playing in, and because Betts got such a great jump, he was able to just beat the throw home. Not only did Betts’ base-running steal back the solo home run Kershaw gave up in the previous half-inning, it sparked a Dodgers rally that plated an additional three runs in that inning.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. As if Betts wasn’t already a human-highlight reel with his defense and base-running, he also cranked his first Dodgers postseason home run. It was an opposite-field bomb on the first pitch of the bottom of the sixth.

Offense, Bellinger Came To Play

As I’ve been ranting and raving about this for a while now: the key to winning this World Series for the Dodgers is their offense’s ability to capture a commanding lead early in the ballgame and to capitalize on major scoring opportunities.

Cody Bellinger did the scoring early part, by hitting a no-doubt-about-it blast over the right field wall for a two-run shot in the bottom of the fourth. By the way, over Bellinger’s last six postseason games he has three homers, six RBI and six walks so he’s heating up.

Then, as we mentioned above, the Dodgers opened it up in the fifth by scoring four and tacked on two more runs in the sixth. That, my friends, was a complete offensive-output. Plus, the team was a combined 5-for-14 (.285) with runners in scoring position, drew seven total walks and two of their runs batted in came with two outs. This is the type of Dodgers offense we’re used to seeing.

Final Thoughts

The Dodgers need to remember how they played in this game  – that style of baseball will win them a World Series championship. I have to say, I felt more relaxed watching Game One of the World Series than any of the previous Dodgers playoff games this year because of how in command the team was from the start. Let’s see if they can duplicate the effort and output in Game Two with Tony Gonsolin on the mound.

Jake Reiner is a writer and reporter for Dodgers-LowDown and co-host of The Incline Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @QualityJakes