Clayton Kershaw was filthy. The Los Angeles Dodgers' bats were mighty. And the Dodgers handily beat the Atlanta Braves 6-1 on Thursday night to take Game 1 of the NLDS. The Dodgers effectively silenced the excited Braves fans who were tomahawk-chopping early on. Yes, it was only one game, but the Dodgers sent a message to the rest of the National League playoff field — we're ready and we have Clayton Kershaw.
Adrian Gonzalez delivered the biggest hit of the night for the Dodgers, a two-run homer in the third inning. He smacked it to centerfield, a few feet out of the reach of Jason Heyward. It put the Dodgers up 4-0. Gonzalez also singled in the fifth inning. He was one of four Dodgers with two hits. Also: Mark Ellis, Yasiel Puig and A.J. Ellis. The Dodgers had 11 hits altogether.
Kershaw was his usual baffling self. He didn't even have his curve working at its best for some of the game, but he still struck out 12 Braves batters, seeming to get better as the game went on. He gave up one run on three hits in seven innings. Kershaw got into a few jams early and his pitch count was a bit high (91 through five innings), but he settled down and struck out six batters in a row between the fourth and sixth innings. He finished the night with 124 pitches.
Evan Gattis was doubled off first base in the second inning on a fly ball to right field. Yasiel Puig gunned it to first base with Gattis oddly having taken off for second. A double play didn't do the Braves in — that was Kershaw — but it was sandwiched between the Dodgers scoring two runs in the second and two more in the third.
The meat of the Braves batting order — Gattis, Justin Upton and Freddie Freeman — were 2-for-10.
Before Gonzalez's two-run dinger put the game firmly in L.A.'s control, this A.J. Ellis double, which a diving Gattis couldn't grab, put the Dodgers up 2-0 and seemed to set the tone for the Braves' night. Just. Not. Enough.
• Counting Thursday's win, the Dodgers are 15-1 win in 2013 when Kershaw pitches and they score at least four runs.
• Since 2000, the Braves are 5-15 in home playoff games.
Yasiel Puig's postseason debut. He singled in his first at-bat, went from first to third on a single to centerfield, then scored the Dodgers' first run on a sac fly to centerfield. He singled again in the third inning. He finished the night 2-for-4.
Puig was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning, getting pegged square in the back. Since the Dodgers and Braves both were involved in on-field scuffles this season, everybody watching the game held their breath for a moment. Puig glared at pitcher Kris Medlen, but no bickering ensued.
The Braves now have to hope they can fare better against Zack Greinke on Friday. First pitch is at 6:07 p.m. ET from Atlanta. The Braves counter with Mike Minor (13-9, 3.21 ERA). Greinke has been stellar in the second half of the season, with a 1.85 ERA. Minor posted a 3.94 ERA in September in 32 innings. He was 0-4 in five starts.