Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Kershaw gets last out in relief as Dodgers beat Nats, advance to face Cubs

WASHINGTON — Clayton Kershaw got the final two outs to earn his first major-league save and finish the Dodgers' 4-3 victory over the Nationals in Game 5 to win their NL Division Series.

Entering with runners on first and second and one out in the ninth inning after 12:30 a.m. on Friday, Kershaw got Daniel Murphy to pop out and struck out Wilmer Difo to send L.A. to the NL Championship Series against the Cubs.

The game lasted 4 hours, 32 minutes.

Kershaw was pitching two days after going 62/3 innings in Game 4. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner was making his first relief appearance since the 2009 playoffs.

Kershaw entered after regular Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen threw a career-high 51 pitches while getting a career-high seven outs after entering in the seventh.

"I wanted to have his back,'' Kershaw said of Jensen. "We're all exhausted, even when you're on the bench.''

Said Jensen: "Got to dig deep now, and keep fighting.''

The Nationals appeared to be on the way to their first-ever playoff series win. L.A. trailed 1-0 before a four-run seventh off six pitchers, including Joc Pederson's homer off starter Max Scherzer and Justin Turner's two-run triple off Shawn Kelley.

"We had some chances,'' Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "We've got some improvements to make. Hopefully we're back in the same position next season.''

The Dodgers won the last two games of the best-of-five NLDS and now head to the NLCS to face the Cubs. That opens at Wrigley Field on Saturday night.

Julio Urias entered in the fifth inning and became the youngest Dodgers pitcher in a postseason game at 20 years, 62 days. Don Drysdale was 20 years, 76 days old in the 1956 World Series.

ALCS set to begin with Blue Jays at Indians

CLEVELAND — Corey Kluber is back at the top of the Indians' make-it-up-as-they-go rotation.

Cleveland will start its ace in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series against the Blue Jays, one of the few certainties Indians manager Terry Francona has.

Trevor Bauer, who started the opener of the ALDS against Boston, will pitch Game 2 and Josh Tomlin will take the mound for Game 3. Francona has "penciled in" Mike Clevinger for Game 4, but that plan could change.

Francona has been forced to juggle his rotation for weeks after losing starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar to injuries. Francona's decision to send out Kluber first was expected after the right-hander showed no signs of a late-season quadriceps injury and pitched seven shutout innings in Game 2 against the Red Sox.

Francona has had to be creative with his bullpen, using eight relievers to complete the game in which Carrasco got hurt.

"There's not much our bullpen hasn't experienced throughout the course of the year," team president Chris Antonetti said.

The Indians will their staff to be on against the wild-card Blue Jays, who battered Texas in their ALDS with eight homers and 22 runs.

"They're good," said Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. "They're excellent. Their whole roster is pretty good, as far as swinging the bat. We've got to make pitches from Pitch 1. They're a little bit different makeup than Boston. They're not going to sit around and take a first-pitch strike. You've got to throw quality strikes right out the get-go, and then make sure you stay ahead."

Kluber, who will face right-hander Marco Estrada in the opener, went 18-9 during the regular season, bouncing back from a 16-loss season in 2015. He was 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays.

Archer back at ESPN

Rays starter Chris Archer has signed on with ESPN to again provide on-site analysis of the World Series.

Archer, who got rave reviews for his debut last year, will work Games 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, appearing on Baseball Tonight's pregame and postgame shows, and also joining to the radio broadcast for an inning each game. He also is slated to appear on SportsCenter during those days. He will miss Games 3 and 4 due to a conflict with his Archway Foundation's charity golf event.

"It's fun to educate the fans from a current player's perspective," Archer told the Tampa Bay Times. "They have great analysts, and I think me going on there — and the reception I got last year was for the most part 100 percent positive — I can educate them on what the pitcher is trying to do."

Senior coordinating producer Phil Orlins said ESPN was happy to have Archer back: "Chris brings a youthful energy and fresh take to our coverage. He gives us the firsthand perspective of someone who has pitched against these teams and knows the game from the inside. Chris is eloquent and brings a fun and sometimes humorous perspective."

CUBS PICK LESTER: Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the NL Championship Series for Chicago. If Kyle Hendricks is recovered from being hit in the forearm by a comebacker in the second game of the NLDS, he likely would start Game 2.

RED SOX: Second baseman Dustin Pedroia had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is expected to be ready for spring training.

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

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