It all proved too much for the Atlanta Braves, who saw the Dodgers jump out to a 6-1 victory in the opener of their National League division series at Turner Field in Atlanta on Thursday.
Kershaw was dominating, striking out 12 Braves and holding them to the one run on just three hits in his seven innings.
BOX SCORE: Dodgers 6, Braves 1
It was the second-most strikeouts in the postseason for a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, after the 15 New York Yankees Sandy Koufax struck out in the opener of the 1963 World Series.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, scored their six runs on 11 hits. They jumped out to a 5-0 lead after four innings and then let Kershaw bring them home. They made it look pretty easy.
They scored on the speed of Yasiel Puig, the power of Adrian Gonzalez and with two hits each from A.J. Ellis (both doubles) and Mark Ellis.
The Dodgers almost looked like they’d flipped a switch, putting behind their 12-14 September and resembling the team that went 42-8 in the middle of the summer.
The Dodgers will try to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series Friday when Zack Greinke is scheduled to oppose Atlanta’s Mike Minor.
Here's an inning-by-inning recap of Game 1:
Dodgers 6, Braves 1 (bottom of ninth):
Kenley Jansen came on to pitch a scoreless ninth. He walked one and gave up a pop single, and struck out two. It took him, however, 25 pitches.
Dodgers 6, Braves 1 (middle of ninth):
They're just counting the outs now. The Dodgers went down in order against Atlanta's sixth pitcher, Luis Avilan.
Kenley Jansen is coming in to pitch the bottom of the inning.
Dodgers 6, Braves 1 (end of eight):
The Braves are running out of time. Brian Wilson took over for Clayton Kershaw in the bottom of the eighth, but not much changed.
The bearded one gave up one single, but otherwise the Braves went quietly. As they mostly have all night.
Dodgers 6, Braves 1 (middle of eight):
Andre Ethier pinch hit for Clayton Kershaw, ending an outstanding start for the left-hander.