By: Paul DiSclafani
Daniel Murphy goes deep against Clayton Kershaw and Jacob deGrom strikes out 13 in seven shutout innings as the Mets take Game One of the NLDS against the Dodgers out in Los Angeles, 3-1. It’s the Mets first postseason appearance in nine years.
Talk about a pitcher’s duel, this was a strikeout duel as Kershaw and deGrom put on a show, combining for 24 K’s. But it was the neophyte deGrom who outpitched the veteran Kershaw.
The reigning 2014 Rookie of The Year pitched seven shutout innings, striking out a season high 13 batters and walking just one. He set a major league record becoming the first pitcher to strikeout six batters in his first two postseason innings. He also set a Mets franchise record by striking out 10 in his postseason debut.
DeGrom was in trouble early, when former Met Justin Turner lined a ball to Michael Cuddyer in left that was mis-played into a double leading off the second inning, but he strikes out Andre Ethier and AJ Ellis before intentionally walking Joc Pederson to get to Kersaw, who he struck out.
In the third, deGrom gets the first two outs quickly on just five pitches, then Corey Seager slices one to the opposite field that Cuddyer mis-plays again for a ground rule double, the Dodger’s third hit. DeGrom gets out of it again, striking out Adrian Gonzalez. LA is now 0-4 w/RISP and 3K’s.
Then came the thunder. Murphy takes Kershaw deep to right on a 2-0 pitch for a home run to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Murphy hit a career high 14 home runs this season, but only one off a left-hander. The ball went deep into the Mets bullpen for Murphy’s first postseason dinger.
The Mets couldn’t muster any offense against Kershaw, but they did get a runner on in each of the first five innings. Meanwhile, deGrom was still dealing with trouble. After Turner got his second hit of the game leading off the fourth, AJ Ellis also singled and the Dodgers had runners in scoring position for the third straight inning. Joc Pederson flied out for the second out, then deGrom got Kershaw to end the inning, but he gave it a ride to deep center for the final out.
Kershaw just kept ringing the Mets up, striking out the side in the fifth for his 11th K of the game and getting his first 1-2-3 inning in the sixth. But things began to unravel for him in the seventh.
Lucas Duda drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on Cuddyer’s grounder to third. Duda became the Mets first base runner in scoring position. With Reuben Tejada up and deGrom on deck, Terry Collins had a tough decision to make. If Tejada makes the second out, does he pinch hit for deGrom, who had already thrown 101 pitches?
Instead, Tejada works out a walk to put two runners on and keep deGrom in the game, as he sacrifices the runners to second and third for Granderson, who already had two hits. Kershaw gets ahead of Granderson 1-2, but he works out a walk to load the bases and that ends Kershaw’s night. Manager Don Mattingly replaces Kershaw with Pedro Baez to face David Wright. With a full count and the runners moving, Wright, who waited nine years for this moment, lines a single to center, driving in two and giving the Mets a huge 3-0 lead. Mets got only one hit in the inning, but it was the only hit they needed.
The Dodgers did get a run in the 8th against Tyler Clippard to make it 3-1, but Jeurys Familia came in to get a four-out save and give the Mets a 1-0 lead in this series.
Rookie Noah Syndergaard gets the start in Game Two of the series tomorrow night against CY Young candidate, right hander Zack Grienke and his regular season 1.86 ERA in what suddenly becomes a must win for the Dodgers.
POSITIVES: What a great series of AB’s for the Mets in the seventh. Duda laid off some close pitches to work out a leadoff walk. Cuddyer got the job done, moving Duda to second. Tejada worked out a walk after being down in the count 0-2 with an 8-pitch AB. DeGrom laid down a perfect bunt to move the runners-up. Granderson worked out another walk after being down in the count 1-2. And the Captain finishes it off … When was the last time Kershaw walked three batters in the same inning? … Mets left-handers had four of the Mets five hits off the lefty Kershaw … Collins, the oldest manager in the majors at 66, gets his first postseason win in his first postseason game …It was 88 degrees at game time. Don’t you just love LA? … Mariano Rivera had just 13 career four-out saves in the regular season, but had 30 of them in the postseason … First time in post season history that two pitchers had at least 11 K …
NEGATIVES: Kershaw has lost his last 5 postseason starts … Yoenis Cespedes and Tejada struck out three times … Cuddyer was brutal out in left field and was 0-3 with a K. Michael Conforto may have caught both balls Cuddyer mis-played. Conforto will start against Grienke in Game 2.