CHICAGO – (Wire Service Report) – Four hours before Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw was stretching down the first base line, about 50 feet into the outfield grass. Manager Dave Roberts was beside him, on his haunches.
They were not counting the blades of grass.
Ninety minutes later, a reassured Roberts announced Kershaw as his starter for Game 2 on Sunday.
As if there was any question.
The Cubs used Miguel Montero’s pinch-hit grand slam with two outs in the eighth inning for an 8-4 victory in the first game of the NLCS, their fourth win in five postseason games. Now it is up to three-time Cy Young Award winner Kershaw to even the series against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks.
Kershaw will make his second start of the postseason after helping the Dodgers into the NLCS with his first career save. He got the final two outs of a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday.
Starting pitchers normally throw a bullpen session three days before their next scheduled start, so in a way Kershaw was sticking with his routine when he replaced Kenley Jansen with a runner on first base and threw seven pitches to get out of the ninth inning Thursday.
In a way.
“Intensity might have been just a hair different, but I think I would guess just the quantity was probably pretty similar, I would say,” Kershaw said drily.
Kershaw was 12-4 with a 1.69 ERA this season, but he pitched only 149 innings because of a back injury that kept him out for about 10 weeks. The light workload may work to his advantage against a Cubs team that was second in the league in the regular season in runs (808) and on-base percentage (.343).
“The Cubs’ lineup is pretty solid, obviously,” Kershaw said. “They have some guys in there that had some pretty amazing seasons, and they’re the best team in baseball for a reason.