Kershaw has positioned himself to do what might be regarded as borderline heretical: surpass Sandy Koufax as greatest pitcher in Dodgers history.
Koufax was 26 when he embarked on five magnificent seasons. He led the NL in ERA each season from 1962-66, winning three Cy Young trophies and one MVP award. He retired at age 30, because of an arthritic elbow.
Kershaw is 26 now, poised to win his third Cy Young Award, and the MVP too.
Yasiel Puig was hit in the left shoulder by a pitch from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright in the third inning of Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Friday at Dodger Stadium, inciting a benches-clearing argument between the two teams.
There’s a history. Puig and Hanley Ramirez — twice — were hit by pitches in the most recent regular-season series between the teams in July.
Last October, Ramirez was hit in the ribs by a pitch from St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. After sitting out Game 2, Ramirez attempted to play hurt in the final four games of the series but was not a factor.
Friday, Wainwright brushed Ramirez back with a pitch in the first inning, provoking Ramirez to glare at the mound. Ramirez later lined out to third base to end the at-bat — and the first inning.
This incident was relatively tame. Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez both left the bench in an uproar. Along with Puig, they took turns shouting at Wainwright and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Both managers and coaches from both sides successfully got between the yelling players, and the argument died down after a few minutes.
Both benches were warned, but no players were ejected. The most violent moment — if you can call it that — is when Molina shoved home-plate umpire Jerry Meals:
Puig later came around to score on a single by Ramirez. That tied the game 1-1. Ramirez stole second base and scored on a ground-rule double by Carl Crawford, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
The Dodgers haven’t formally announced any of their starters for the series, though Clayton Kershaw is listed as the Game 1 starter on their website, and lined up to start the game by throwing a bullpen session Tuesday. Zack Greinke is expected to start Game 2.
In the interests of (we can only assume) jinxing everyone, Sports Illustrated selected Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright for two of its three regional covers this week.
The two pitchers are the cover boys for the magazine’s MLB playoffs/NHL regular season preview editions. The Kings’ Anze Kopitar and the St. Louis Blues’ T.J. Oshie are also featured.