Five takeaways from the Dodgers' 3-1 win over the Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium:
1. Kershaw is just so good
Clayton Kershaw's reputation for postseason struggles has been largely overblown, and the best pitcher in the world looked like the best pitcher in the world Tuesday. Facing an Astros team with MLB's top offense, the left-hander allowed only one run on three hits and no walks while striking out 11 over seven innings. The outing was classic Kershaw, as the three-time Cy Young Award winner exhibited his trademark command and his devastating breaking stuff to induce ugly and tentative swings from the Houston club all night.
"He's tough," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after the game. "He showed it tonight by being in attack mode, being in the strike zone early and got us pretty defensive from the get-go."
2. Corey's story
The Dodgers won the NLCS despite the absence of one their best all-around players, shortstop Corey Seager, due to a back injury. But Seager returned to action for the World Series, got the start on Tuesday and tallied two singles in the game. That's huge news for Los Angeles. Charlie Culberson and Chris Taylor did an admirable job filling in for in his absence, but Seager represents a massive offensive upgrade over Culberson, and the versatile Taylor is best used elsewhere.
Seager did endure a strange defensive hiccup when he botched an underhand toss to second base on a potential double play, but it looked more like a simple misplay than any lingering effect of the back issue.
3. What's the hurry?
In the midst of a postseason marked by endless, three-and-a-half hour slogs, the Dodgers and Astros opened the World Series with a crisp pitcher's duel that ended in only 2:28. Kershaw and Astros starter Dallas Keuchel both worked quickly and, for the most part, effectively, and the game featured only one mid-inning pitching change. But Dodgers fans who paid big money for seats likely won't complain after watching Kershaw throw a gem in the club's first World Series win since 1988.
Outside of the Alex Bregman homer that accounted for Houston's only run, the most promising sign in the game for the Astros might have been the perfect eighth inning thrown by reliever Chris Devenski. The right-handed Devenski was a huge part of the team's bullpen throughout the regular season, but he has been shaky in his postseason outings to date. Houston's relief corps looked lousy at various points in the ALCS against the Yankees, but a revived Devenski should shore up the unit.
5. Turner, Turner, Turner
Justin Turner yet again provided the biggest hit for the Dodgers, this time a two-run homer that gave Los Angeles the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Turner now owns a .363 career average in 91 postseason at-bats with six homers, 26 RBI, a .473 on-base percentage, and a .648 slugging. It's enough to rank him with the game's all-time greats in terms of October performance. Tuesday's was his first-ever World Series game.
"You can't teach what he's doing," Kershaw said, when asked about Turner's performance after the game. "No mechanics or anything can teach the mindset and the competitiveness, the clutchness, whatever that is. It seems like every single night he's in the right position to come up with a big hit."