LOS ANGELES — It’s early, but the Dodgers look more unstoppable than ever.
Led by Clayton Kershaw in primo form — seven innings, 11 strikeouts, no walks, one run — and Justin Turner’s typical long-ball heroics — a game-winning two-run shot — the Dodgers rolled past the Astros, 3-1, last night in a World Series opener that felt a lot more one-sided than the score looked.
“Tonight is about Kershaw and really the span of a couple of at-bats,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, referring to Turner and the home run Chris Taylor launched on Dallas Keuchel’s first pitch of the game. “They had two big swings, we had one. They had a walk before one of their big swings, it’s 3-1, we get to Game 2. It’s no more complicated than that.
“I wanted to get out of here with a sweep, and now that’s not going to happen.”
The Dodgers won a majors-best 104 games in the regular season and are 8-1 in the playoffs. The Astros had 101 wins this season but are 7-5 in the playoffs.
With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth, Turner re-ignited the crowd with his two-out blast off Keuchel. He has four home runs — one of the walkoff variety — and 14 RBI this postseason.
“(Turner) just comes up with big hits, not only in the regular season but the postseason especially,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s hard to explain, but he’s that guy that you want in the big spots, and he doesn’t scare off.”
Kershaw was making his 22nd playoff appearance, but this one was different, his first World Series game.
“You can’t really tell the difference between another postseason or a World Series start, but it definitely feels good to say we’re 1-0,” Kershaw said. “And we have to come back tomorrow and do it again.”
Kershaw was dominant for seven innings. He had 11 strikeouts on just 73 pitches through six. In the fifth inning, he needed just six pitches to get three outs.
Roberts felt the game was in hand once Kershaw established his full arsenal.
“I see the swing and miss, the depth of the slider, the fastball command, the back-door cutter, the curveball. Tonight was one of those nights, I think the first time in a while where we’ve seen all three of his pitches synched up,” Roberts said. “He just was repeating the delivery, held the velocity, was throwing the baseball where he needed to, where he wanted to.”
The stadium lit up on Keuchel’s first pitch, which Taylor manhandled, but the crowd quieted some in the fourth when Alex Bregman channeled Taylor’s leadoff success with his own rocket off Kershaw to even the score 1-1.
Turner said he felt as if the crowd of 54,253 was perhaps even more pumped last night than it was after his walkoff in the NLCS.
“This place was the most electric I’ve ever seen it,” Turner said. “Which it should be. This is the first World Series in 29 years.”
He concurred with a talk he had with Sandy Koufax.
“Sandy told me today the first 162 are work. Once you get to the playoffs, it’s fun,” Turner said.
Right now, the Dodgers look as if they will be having plenty more fun.