LOS ANGELES – Beat up in the postseason over the years, Clayton Kershaw orchestrated one of his best performances against the weakened Milwaukee Brewers.
Kershaw struck out 13 while delivering eight innings of three-hit ball, Mookie Betts hit a two-out, two-run double in the fifth, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won 3-0 to sweep their NL wild-card series on Thursday night.
“This was a fun night for me,” said Kershaw, who displayed a rare smile on the mound. “Get the postseason off to a good start. It's a good first step for sure.”
The eight-time West champion Dodgers advanced to the NL Division Series in Arlington, Texas, and will play either the St. Louis Cardinals or San Diego Padres, who meet in a deciding Game 3 on Friday.
Kershaw's strikeouts were a playoff career high and the most by a Dodgers pitcher in the postseason since his mentor Sandy Koufax had 15 in Game 1 of the 1963 World Series against the Yankees.
“That was pretty spectacular, for sure,” Betts said. “He gave us all the opportunities in the world to capitalize.”
Kershaw issued his lone walk to Luis Urias in the eighth and promptly picked him off when a diving Urias couldn't get back to the bag. The Brewers lost their challenge of the call.
“Kershaw was just determined,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He gave us all he had and all we needed.”