It's hard to believe there's ever been a knock against a three-time Cy Young award winner, but as good as L.A. Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has been in his career, naysayers have always pointed to his playoff record.
Going into game one of the World Series last night, Kershaw sported a 6-7 career playoff record and an earned run average north of four and a half. But on a night when temperatures in L.A. were north of 100 degrees, Kershaw turned in his best post-season start, cooling off the Houston Astros by recording eleven strike-outs in a 3-1 Dodgers victory.
It looked like it might be a night for offense when the Dodger's first batter of the game, Chris Taylor, took the first pitch he saw from Houston's Dallas Keuchel and launched it into the left field seats for a 1-0 L.A. lead. But Keuchel settled down after that and the game was tied 1-1 when Justin Turner added another dramatic home run to his playoff resume, raking a two-run shot off Keuchel in the sixth that turned out to be the game winner.
Taylor and Turner are the poster boys for players who get cast off by one team only to excel with another. Taylor had an unremarkable stint with the Seattle Mariners before he was cut loose and became a reliable lead-off hitter with the Dodgers, and Mets fans just groan and mutter under their breaths when they see what Turner has become since their team let him go.
In any event, the Astros do not want to play catch-up with the Dodgers in this series, because L.A.'s bullpen is outstanding. Brandon Morrow pitched the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen had no trouble with the Astros in the ninth and the Dodgers take game one with another lefty, Rich Hill, taking the mound tonight to see if they can make that a two-game lead. Hill doesn't have quite the stuff that Kershaw does, but he does feature an excellent, slow loping top to bottom curve ball that seems to give the heavy hitters in the Astros line-up some consternation.
Hill faces Justin Verlander for the Astros, who's been nothing short of money in the bank since he was acquired from Detroit at the trade deadline. The veteran fireballer kept Houston alive by winning an elimination game six against the Yankees in the ALCS and will be called upon tonight to even the series before it heads to Texas.
And because the game was played in glitzy L.A., your celebrity in the stands sightings last night included Jerry Seinfeld, Dustin Hoffman, and Lady Ga Ga.
In the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens were on a seven-game losing skid, the kind of thing that just will not do in the hotbed of the league's most stories franchise, but some relief came last night in the guise of a much-needed 5-1 victory over the Florida Panthers at the Bell Centre. Shea Weber scored twice for the Habs, who also got tallies from Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher and Max Pacioretty, securing Montreal's first win since the season opener. Carey Price made 26 saves to get the win in net.
To the NBA, and the Boston Celtics are in the process of discovering just what their identity will be this season, following the gruesome injury that ended the season for their newly acquired forward Gordon Hayward just five minutes into the first game of the season. Part of that new identity will likely be leaning more and asking more from the team's core of very young players, which includes Jaylen Brown. Last night in Boston, Brown gave an indication of how high his upside could be, pouring in 23 points in Boston's 110-89 win over the NY Knicks. Pretty nice way for Brown to celebrate his 21st birthday, and an even younger player, 19-year old rookie Jayson Tatum out of Duke, who the Celtics traded down to get at number three in the latest draft, added 22 points. There was veteran help as well, with Al Horford recording a double double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The loss of Hayward may push back Boston's hopes and chances for an NBA title this year, but they still have a very good team, and the more the young guys can contribute, learn, and grow, the better the Celtics will be when Hayward is able to come back from his broken ankle and injury.
Despite an eight-save performance by Anna Hurley, the St. Michael's Purple Knights field hockey team lost their final regular season game 1-0 after going to a shoot-out round against Southern New Hampshire at Duffy Field yesterday. St. Mike's finishes the season with a 7-10 overall record.
In men's college soccer, the Purple Knights got a game-tying goal off the foot of Cris Cervantes, but a late goal in the 71st minute gave New Haven a 2-1 win over St. Mike's in western Connecticut.
High school field hockey and soccer playdowns have begun, and among the notable scores yesterday was a huge upset in division two field hockey as the Middlebury Tigers, who went into the post season without a single win against twelve losses, defeated U-32 by a score of 3-1 in east Montpelier.
In division one boy's soccer, the defending champion Burlington Seahorses gave up the first goal of the game, but went on to defeat St. Albans 5-1.