It was a classic October pitcher’s duel—until it wasn’t.
Dallas Keuchel and Clayton Kershaw squared off last night to kick off the 2017 World Series, and they mostly lived up to their reputations as two of the best starting pitchers in the game.
Keuchel, perhaps the victim of some jitters ahead of his first World Series appearance, received a rude greeting from Dodgers centerfielder Chris Taylor. The surprise breakout star launched Keuchel’s very first pitch well over the left field wall for a quick 1-0 Dodgers lead. The longtime Houston ace settled down after that, trading scoreless frames with Kershaw in innings two and three.
The Astros evened the score in the top of the fourth, when Alex Bregman connected on a long line drive that whistled into the bleachers. Bregman became the youngest AL hitter to homer in the World Series since a young Manny Ramirez did so in 1995. Kershaw didn’t let that bother him, though, and he shut down the Astros offense for the rest of his outing.
Meanwhile, Dallas Keuchel was working on a gem of his own. But with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, he walked Chris Taylor to bring up third baseman Justin Turner. Turner smacked a go-ahead two-run home run, and the Dodgers cruised the rest of the way to a 3-1 victory.
Keuchel totaled 6.2 innings with three earned runs; Kershaw made it through seven with one run and 11 strikeouts. National League All-Star Kenley Jansen worked the top of the ninth and sent the Los Angeles faithful home happy.
Though runs were scarce to come by in Game 1, they’re unlikely to be any more abundant tonight. Justin Verlander, owner of a 4-0 record and a 1.46 ERA this postseason, takes the hill for Houston. He’s opposed by veteran lefty Rich Hill. Hill bounced out of the major leagues in 2015 before reemerging as a late-career ace. He pitched to a 3.32 ERA in 2017, and has allowed three earned runs over nine innings spanning a pair of no-decisions in this year’s playoffs.
The team that wins Game 1 of the World Series has gone on to win 25 of the last 29 Fall Classics. For Houston, it’s vital to emerge from Los Angeles with one win in the bank. Justin Verlander is the pitcher just about any team in baseball would want on the mound to deliver that victory. History continues tonight at 7:00 Central.