The narrative of Clayton Kershaw’s inability to handle the postseason has always been bigger than it has been real. There have always been far too many other factors at play—namely, poor managerial decisions and a shaky bullpen behind him—for that idea to be true. (Not to mention a number of perfectly fine playoff starts that were often conveniently ignored or forgotten here.) But the story was easy, and it felt right to enough people, and so it was everywhere.
After seven innings of one-run ball in tonight’s Game 1 of the World Series, hopefully, it won’t be everywhere quite as much. Kershaw’s 11-strikeout night pushed the Dodgers to a 3-1 win over the Astros, boosted by home runs from Chris Taylor and Justin Turner.
Kershaw looked more or less like he always does on a good night, which is damn near impossible to hit: that traditionally nasty curve, the slider working just as hard, zero walks. He looked like himself. This was just his first chance to do so in the World Series, and he lived up to it—with both an offense and a bullpen to back him up.
Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen followed him with two scoreless innings of relief, continuing the Dodger bullpen’s streak of playoff dominance this year, with just four runs allowed in their nine postseason games so far. In a perfectly paced—less than two and a half hours!—the Astros tried their best behind starter Dallas Keuchel, who was pulled in the seventh after allowing Turner’s home run, but simply couldn’t get enough.
That a single game could unseat a narrative as persistent as Kershaw’s postseason failure might seem silly, especially considering the fact that there are games that can and should have been able to do it before. (And, of course, the fundamental flaws of the narrative in the first place.) But this performance was on a bigger stage, dazzlingly well-rounded, and rightfully enough to make an easy point to rewrite the story.