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Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw ready to make Fenway Park debut

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw talks about what winning a World Series would mean for the Dodgers and how good pitching is more important than if it’s a starter or reliever.

Soon after the Dodgers landed here on Sunday, Clayton Kershaw caught a ride to Fenway Park. He has never pitched here in his 10-year career, and he was operating under a schedule misaligned by his appearance as a reliever in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. In order to be ready to start Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, Kershaw needed to get in a workout.

So he climbed atop the bullpen mound, clad in a long-sleeve T-shirt and shorts, to reorient his delivery. He practiced his motion without throwing a baseball, ensuring he would be ready to face Red Sox ace Chris Sale in the Series opener.

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Kershaw threw 15 pitches in the ninth inning on Saturday. He treated it like a highly adrenalized bullpen session.

“Obviously the intensity is different, and things like that,” Kershaw said. “But that’s why I came here yesterday to make sure everything was good. Should be good.”

The Dodgers will line up Hyun-Jin Ryu for Game 2 and Walker Buehler for Game 3, manager Dave Roberts said. The team has not announced Rich Hill as the Game 4 starter, but he is the most likely option.

Ryu will duel David Price in Game 2. Boston will use Rick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi in Games 3 and 4, but both will be available in relief for the first two nights.

Kershaw remains in search of a championship. He came close in 2017. He dominated Houston in Game 1, wilted in Game 5 and contributed four scoreless innings in the Game 7 defeat. Asked how important a title was to him, he did not mince words.

“It’s pretty critical,” Kershaw said. “I really want to win the World Series. I think that’s no different than the other 50 guys in both locker rooms, though.”

Why Puig went wild

Yasiel Puig completed one of the more unique celebrations in recent memory as he rounded the bases during Game 7 of the NLCS. He commemorated his three-run homer in a variety of ways: He chopped at his crotch, he flexed his biceps, he slashed his throat and wagged his tongue.

Puig did not speak to reporters after the clinch at Miller Park — though he did douse a pair of buckets of water inside the clubhouse afterward. He explained his thought process after the homer on Monday.

“I hit that ball great, and I never expected it was going to be a home run,” Puig said. “I was so happy from the moment that I hit it, because I knew that [Brewers outfielder] Lorenzo Cain couldn’t catch that ball, because it was in the gap. Two runs scored at that moment, and the game was going to be 4-1, and less pressure for the bullpen, and myself, too, because at 2-1, I felt a little bit nervous.”

The homer made the score 5-1.

Puig has hit .333 this October with a .962 on-base plus slugging percentage. Roberts insisted the positives of Puig’s performance outweigh any negatives.

“There’s certainly a lot of upside with Yasiel,” Roberts said. “There’s a lot of energy. There’s some recklessness. So my job, my coaches’ job, is to continue to embrace it, to some extent, but also harness it. So there is a balance.”

Hyers might have Dodgers insight

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The coach behind the most fearsome offense in baseball has some insight into the Dodgers, too. Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers spent 2016 and 2017 as the assistant hitting coach of the Dodgers before joining Alex Cora’s staff in 2018.

As Boston geared up in preparation for this World Series, Hyers indicated he might offer some insight on how to attack his former hitters.

“A full year [later], hitters change,” Hyers said. “But working with them two years in a row, a lot of the guys are still there. There are some tendencies that I’m familiar with, and some things that they like to do, and dislike to do. So the game’s got to play out, in certain situations, but there could be some valuable information to pass along to the pitch coach.”

Short hops

David Freese will start at first base in Game 1, with Matt Kemp as the designated hitter, Roberts said. Sale is a left-handed pitcher . . . Justin Turner appreciates Dodgers history. He can still recall where he was when Kirk Gibson homered in the 1988 World Series, and he connected with Gibson after hitting a walkoff homer on the 29th anniversary last October. But Turner recognizes the importance of moving on from 1988. “L.A. is ready for some new stories,” Turner said. “There’s a whole generation of Dodgers fans out there who weren’t even around for that ’88 World Series, and they only get the clips and highlights from that. I think we’re ready to give them their own memories.”

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