As it would turn out, it took the Dodgers the minimum of two games to handle the Brewers in the wild card round of the 2020 MLB playoffs.
After an absence of offense through the first four innings of the contest, Los Angeles scored a flurry of runs in the bottom of the fifth to secure the 3-0 victory.
After Will Smith led off the frame with a strikeout, Cody Bellinger singled on a liner to center and advanced to second when Chris Taylor split the infield with a single of his own. Bellinger was eventually thrown out at third on a somewhat dramatic AJ Pollock fielder’s choice, but Taylor ultimately crossed the plate for the game’s first run on an Austin Barnes single to center.
One batter later, Mookie Betts supplied the brunt of the damage with a double to left that allowed both Pollock and Barnes to score. Once the smoke cleared on the fifth inning, the Dodgers led 3-0.
Those would be all the runs the Dodgers would need.
Just in case, for whatever reason, you were unable to catch the game, starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw was nothing short of spectacular. Long labeled as an ineffective playoff pitcher, Kersh took one step further in defining the true narrative of his outstanding career.
Kershaw threw eight very strong, scoreless innings. As it played out, Milwaukee never really had a chance against him. CK surrendered just three hits and a walk while striking out a whopping 13 Brewer batters. He even picked off Luis Urias off first base in the eighth to clear the bases of any prospective, late-game threat.
It was the first time Kershaw struck out at least a dozen batters in a playoff game since facing the Braves on the road in the 2013 NLDS. Also, his performance tonight was the second-highest strikeout total in the postseason by a Dodger pitcher since 1963, trailing only Sandy Koufax’s 15 punchouts against the Yankees in the ’63 World Series.
Kershaw threw 93 total pitches, 67 for strikes.
It could not have been a better outing for the 32-year-old veteran. In the eyes of many, he looked as good as he did all year. All three of his pitches—fastball, curve, slider—were sharp and effective. And, while his velocity wasn’t as overpowering as we saw at some points this year, it held steady right around 91-92 MPH throughout the evening.
Reliever Brusdar Graterol threw the ninth to register his first-career postseason save, allowing just a single.
Brandon Woodruff took the loss for the Brewers. To make matters worse, the righty was ejected after arguing upon being replaced in the fifth inning.
Looking ahead, the Dodgers will either play the Cardinals or the Padres, who currently sit tied at one game apiece in their own opening round series.
Either way, the Dodgers won’t play again until first game of the NLDS, which is not scheduled to start until Tuesday, October 6 at Globe Life Park in Arlington.