Where does Thursday’s win rank among Clayton Kershaw’s best?

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 Atlanta Braves batters in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday. It was his first career postseason win, and his first win ever against the Braves. (Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw was asked where Thursday night’s win ranked among the best of his career. It was his first postseason win in his sixth postseason game (third start), and he allowed just one earned run on three hits in seven innings.

“It’s up there,” Kershaw said. “It’s probably — it might be the best just because it’s my first postseason win. I haven’t ever won a game. We got to win in one other game that I pitched that I started in, but this one definitely has special meaning to me for sure.”

A couple facts and figures about Kershaw from tonight’s game that won’t make tomorrow’s editions:

• He became the sixth major league pitcher since 2000 to strike out at least 12 in a postseason game, the first since Cliff Lee fanned 13 Yankees on Oct. 18, 2010 while pitching for the Texas Rangers.

• Kershaw struck out six straight batters between the fourth and sixth innings, the most since Tim Belcher fanned seven in a row in Game 2 of the 1988 National League Championship Series against the New York Mets.

• Prior to tonight, the Braves were the only NL team that Kershaw had not beaten in his career.

The following are according to ESPN Stats & Info:

• Only four lefties have had more strikeouts in a postseason game than Kershaw did: Sandy Koufax in 1963; John Candelaria (1975 Pirates, 14 against the Reds); Randy Johnson (1997 Mariners against the Orioles, 13) and Lee.

• Kershaw got two strikeouts with his fastball and 10 with his breaking pitches. Braves hitters missed on 16 of 29 swings against Kershaw’s curve and slider. They fouled off 12 of the other 13. The only one they hit in play among the 51 he threw was Justin Upton’s grounder back to the mound in the fourth inning.

• The 16 breaking ball swings and misses were the most for any pitcher in a postseason game in the five years for which we have pitch-performance data.

Skip Schumaker said of Kershaw, “He’s as dominant a pitcher as I’ve been around, the most dominant, and I’ve been around some good ones.”

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This entry was posted in JP on the Dodgers, Postgame thoughts and tagged , , by J.P. Hoornstra. Bookmark the permalink.

About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.