Kershaw, Seager, Turner lead Dodgers past Nats 4-3 in NLDS Game 1


Kershaw, Seager, Turner lead Dodgers past Nats 4-3 in NLDS Game 1


WASHINGTON — Hardly at his best, as usual when it comes to October, Clayton Kershaw still managed to do just enough to earn a rare postseason victory.

Backed by early homers from rookie sensation Corey Seager and Justin Turner off Max Scherzer in a matchup of Cy Young Award winners that promised more than it delivered, Kershaw worked around eight hits with the help of seven strikeouts Friday to help the Los Angeles Dodgers edge the Washington Nationals 4-3 in Game 1 of their NL Division Series.

"It was a grind. A lot of guys on base all the time. Definitely wasn't easy," Kershaw said. "As close as you can bend without breaking, I guess."

His work done, Kershaw was able to relax in the dugout, chewing gum and blowing bubbles while watching relievers Joe Blanton, Grant Dayton, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen combine to one hit over four scoreless innings. Jansen got his first five-out save since April 13.

Game 2 in the best-of-five matchup is Saturday at Washington.

In his five innings against the NL East champs, Kershaw allowed three runs, which might not sound like an exorbitant total, but an opponent scored that many only once in the lefty's preceding 16 starts. He was hardly efficient, needing 101 pitches and plenty of boo-inducing mound visits from catcher Yasmani Grandal. Still, Kershaw improved his career record in the playoffs to 3-6 even though his ERA rose to 4.65.

Those numbers are a far cry from his regular-season marks of 126-60, 2.37 ERA and three Cy Young Awards. Maybe, just maybe, Kershaw's arm felt stronger this time because he sat out more than two months with a bad back before returning to the NL West winners in September.

"It feels good to win, and it feels good to win in this situation," Kershaw said. "If I had pitched seven shutout innings and we lost, it's a different feeling. At this time of year, you kind of just throw the stats out the window and you just win the game."

He was staked to a 4-0 lead thanks mainly to Seager and Turner, before slowly giving back most of that margin.

Kershaw allowed only one stolen base during 149 innings in the regular season, then allowed two on a single pitch in the third Friday, when Bryce Harper (who had doubled) and Jayson Werth (who had walked) moved up. That became big when Anthony Rendon ripped a single to left field on a slider that didn't really slide, bringing both runners home and getting Washington to 4-2.

Trea Turner's sacrifice fly in the fourth cut LA's lead to a run.

Like Washington's Turner, LA's Seager is a rookie who hasn't played like one all year long, so why start now?

On the first pitch he saw from Scherzer, Seager turned on a 97 mph fastball and hit it to the deepest part of Nationals Park, beyond the 402-foot sign in center field, for a 1-0 lead.

Scherzer plunked the next batter, Justin Turner, on the left arm. For whatever reason, the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner for Detroit — and a 20-game winner who's a leading contender for the NL honor this year — never truly settled in.

The Dodgers made it 4-0 in the third on Chase Utley's RBI single, then Justin Turner's two-run shot on a 77 mph curveball. The ball sailed over the head of Werth, who jumped in vain to try to make a grab, then slammed his glove against the left-field wall.

Homers have been Scherzer's biggest problem the past two seasons: He allowed 27 in 2015, and a major league-high 31 in 2016.

"I made some mistakes, and they cost me," Scherzer said. "I take ownership of that, and I'm accountable for that."

Kershaw, meanwhile, began perfectly as can be, striking out the side in the first: Trea Turner whiffed on a 90 mph slider, Harper swung through a 96 mph fastball, and Werth nearly tumbled over while flailing at a 75 mph curve.

Things got busier from there for LA's ace, though. Kershaw left the bases loaded in the second, and stranded two runners in both the third and fifth — striking out Danny Espinosa along the way each time.

"We had him on the ropes a couple times," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said, "and, you know, the big hit just escaped us."


In the seventh, Nationals 2B Daniel Murphy — who hadn't started since Sept. 17 because of a strained glute muscle — walked, then was thrown out trying to steal second with Baez on the mound. Baker said it was Murphy's decision to run there. "There's two choices on that," Murphy said. "Either be safe or don't run."


Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg threw a bullpen hours before Game 1 — his first time on a mound since he hurt his right elbow a month ago. He was ruled out for the NLDS, but the Nationals hope he could return if the team advances. ... All-Star C Wilson Ramos, out for the season with a torn knee ligament, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.


In Game 2, RHP Tanner Roark (16-10, 2.83 ERA) starts for the Nationals, taking the assignment that likely would have gone to Strasburg if he were healthy. LHP Rich Hill (3-2, 1.84 ERA in six starts after a trade from Oakland) will pitch for the Dodgers. He was let go from Washington's Triple-A Syracuse affiliate last year.

MLB rumors: Giants expected to go after Patrick Corbin in free agency


MLB rumors: Giants expected to go after Patrick Corbin in free agency

Once MLB free agency begins after the World Series, Diamondbacks ace Patrick Corbin could be the top free-agent arm on the open market.

It's no surprise that he will have plenty of suitors, and one of them reportedly will be the Giants.

According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Corbin is expected to draw a lot of interest from the Giants. And why wouldn't he?

Corbin, 29, is coming off the best season of his six-year career, and the Giants certainly want him away from an NL West opponent. This past season, Corbin went 11-7 with a career-best 3.15 ERA. He also tossed exactly 200 innings with a career-high 246 strikeouts and a career-low 1.050 WHIP. 

The left-hander also has been a menace against the Giants. He went 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA against them last season, including a complete-game shutout on one hit and eight strikeouts in his fourth start of the year. 

For his career, Corbin is 8-8 with a 3.04 ERA in 25 appearances against the Giants.

Cafardo also lists the Dodgers, Braves and Yankees as other suitors for Corbin. In the same report, Cafardo projects Corbin to sign a deal for at least five years at $20 million to $25 million per year. 

Giants Review: Ryder Jones' opportunity cut short by tough knee injury


Giants Review: Ryder Jones' opportunity cut short by tough knee injury

SAN FRANCISCO — Nobody helped their stock in September more than Aramis Garcia, who took advantage of an opening and showed that he can have quality at-bats and handle a second position. That opening originally might have belonged to another player. 

With Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval already done for the year, Ryder Jones would have been the beneficiary when Brandon Belt was finally shut down. But Jones was on the disabled list, too, after suffering one of the worst injuries of the season. 

Jones crumpled in the batter’s box on September 9 after his left knee twisted awkwardly on a swing. He dislocated it, and would have surgery three days later to repair ligament damage. That limited Jones to just eight at-bats in 2018 and kept the Giants from further evaluating a player who still is just 24. 

What Went Right

Jones had a decent season in Triple-A, batting .274 with a .745 OPS, 11 homers, 22 doubles and four triples. At the big-league level, he had hits in three of those eight at-bats, two of which were impressive homers. In a cameo in July, he hit a go-ahead homer off Edwin Jackson in Oakland. In September, he hit a pinch-hit shot off the Brewers’ Joakim Soria. 

The Giants had just four homers leave the yard at 111 mph or above. Mac Williamson had two and Jones had the other two -- again, in just eight at-bats. His homers had exit velocities of 111.7 and 112.1 mph, giving him two of the three hardest-hit homers of the season by a Giant. 

What Went Wrong

Those Triple-A numbers were actually kind of disappointing given that Jones was repeating the level and had better numbers across the board in 2017. His OPS was .969 in his first run through the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. 

The big-league sample size is extremely small, but while Jones homered twice, he struck out in five of his six other at-bats. 

Contract Status

Jones hasn’t accrued much service time. He has two minor-league options remaining. 

The Future

The best thing going for Jones right now is his age. He turned 24 during the season, so he remains younger than just about all of the rookies who broke through during the season.

Jones is capable of generating tremendous bat speed, and the Giants hope that something clicks next season and he consistently taps into his power. The knee had bothered him before and Jones was hopeful that the procedure clears this up once and for all. He is buried on the depth chart, though, with Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval at third and Belt, Posey and others — Garcia? Austin Slater? — capable of handling first. Jones has taken fly balls in the outfield before but that hasn’t stuck.

He’s kind of in limbo right now, but given his age and natural power, he’s a player the new front office should spend a lot of time evaluating.