By HAL McCOY
Because Superman is not on any major league roster, Clayton Kershaw probably is the best baseball pitcher on the planet. There is no Kryptonite to stop this guy.
The Houston Astros discovered Kershaw’s invincibility Tuesday night in Game One of the World Series when the herky-jerky left hander was practically perfect in a 3-1 Los Angeles Dodgers victory in Game One.
Kershaw held the Astros to one home run, three hits and didn’t walk anybody. And he displayed why his first name starts with ‘K’ as he struck out 11 in his seven innings.
It was oh so frustrating for the Astros because time and time again after two pitches from Kershaw the hitters was behind 0-and-2.
Unlike the once-famous country fiddler Doug Kershaw, Clayton Kershaw didn’t fiddle around.
Houston struck out the fewest time in the majors this year, but Kershaw didn’t even give up many foul balls. Contact for the Astros was a major accomplishment.
Astros starter Dallas Keuchel was almost as good, but stood way back in the shadows to Kershaw.
Kershaw made one mistake. Keuchel made three. And that was the ball game.
Keuchel’s first pitch of the game was his first mistake. LA leadoff hitter Chris Taylor almost hit it to Santa Monica on the beach, a 447-foot home run high into the left field pavilion.
The Astros tied it, 1-1, in the fourth when Alex Bregman led the fourth inning with a home run.
It stayed 1-1 until the bottom of the sixth. Keuchel retired the first two Dodgers. Then came his second mistake of the game, a massive one. With two outs he walked Chris Taylor. That was the game’s first walk.
Then came his third mistake and the game-decider. Third baseman Justin Turner, a menace to baseball society during the entire baseball season, crashed a two-run home run to make it 3-1.
Ah, Justin Turner. As property of the Cincinnati Reds, Turner played his low Class A ball for the Dayton Dragons. But the Reds traded him to the Baltimore Orioles, along with Ryan Freel for catcher Ramon Hernandez.
Turner went from the Orioles to the New York Mets and was a utility player for four years and the Mets released him. (The Mets made a mistake, too).
Turner played in an alumni game at Cal State-Fullerton against the varsity and was spotted by former major league player Tim Wallach, who was working for the Dodgers. He was at Cal-Fullerton watching his son, Chad Wallach, now a Reds catcher. When Tim Wallach spotted Turner and advised the Dodgers to sign him.
They did and the rest is glorious history for the Dodgers.
LA manager Dave Roberts used his tried-and-true formula to preserve the victory. Even though Kershaw had given up just the one run and three hits and no walks and 11 strikeouts in seven innings. Kershaw had thrown only 72 pitches, but Roberts did what he has done all season by utilizing his near-perfect bullpen.
He brought in Brandon Murray to pitch the eighth and Murray went 1-2-3. Murray has given up only one extra base hit to his last 156 batters.
To finish it, Roberts brought in baseball’s best closer, Kenley Jansen, 41 saves in 42 opportunities this season. Like Murray, he pitched a 1-2-3 inning, retiring the American League batting champion, Jose Altuve, on a fly ball to end it.
Keuchel pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up three runs, six hits, three walks and struck out only one. His defense kept him out of early trouble by turning three double plays.
Houston leadoff hitter George Springer put together a forgettable night, four at bats, four strikeouts.
The Astros never put up any kind of threat against
If history repeats itself, the Dodgers sit comfortably. The team with the home field advantage has won 24 of the last 31 World Series. And the team that wins Game One has gone on to win the World Series 12 of the last 14 years.
The Astros, though, aren’t about to tuck-and-run. For Game Two Wednesday night they are sending Justin Verlander to the mound and the Astros happen to believe he is the best pitcher on the planet.
Verlander is 4-and-0 in the postseason, including a complete-game shutout of the New York Yankees.