In 11 major league seasons, Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw never has pitched at Fenway Park.
That’s about to change — on the biggest stage, no less.
The Dodgers announced that Kershaw will start Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday in Boston, where he will face Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale. The decision to start Kershaw was widely expected, but it did not diminish the excitement for the 30-year-old ace.
“Obviously, the intensity is different, and things like that,” Kershaw said Monday, a day after working out on the Fenway Park bullpen mound. “But that’s why I came here (Sunday) to make sure everything was good. Should be good.”
Kershaw went 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA in 26 starts during the regular season. He struck out 155 batters in 161 1/3 innings. The three-time National League Cy Young Award winner appeared in three games in last year’s World Series, going 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA.
In the current postseason, Kershaw is 2-1 with a 2.37 ERA in four games (three starts). He pitched a scoreless ninth inning Saturday to close out the Dodgers’ Game 7 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Championship Series.
Sale, 29, was 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 27 starts this season. He fanned 237 batters in 158 innings.
The Red Sox’s ace is far less experienced in the postseason than Kershaw. Sale has logged 20 playoff innings in his career (1-2, 5.85 ERA). By comparison, Kershaw has 141 playoff innings on his resume (9-8, 4.09 ERA).
Sale is 1-0 with a 3.48 ERA in three games (two starts) this October.
Kershaw complimented Sale but did not elaborate on going up against the fellow southpaw.
“I don’t take much solace about the matchup,” Kershaw said. “I don’t really care as much, other than I’d like him to not be as good so we can have a better chance of winning.”
The Game 2 pitching matchup features another pair of left-handers: the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 1.97 ERA regular season; 1-1, 4.40 postseason) vs. the Red Sox’s David Price (16-7, 3.58; 1-1, 5.11). Los Angeles will start rookie right-hander Walker Buehler (8-5, 2.62; 0-1, 5.40) in Game 3, then veteran left-hander Rich Hill (11-5, 3.66; 0-0, 2.61) in Game 4.
Boston’s Game 3 and 4 starters are uncertain, as right-handers Nathan Eovaldi (6-7, 3.81; 2-0, 1.88) and Rick Porcello (17-7, 4.28; 1-0, 4.22) will be on call for bullpen duty the opening two games.
The first two games will be held in Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday. The series shifts to Los Angeles for games Friday, Saturday and (if necessary) Sunday. Games 6 and 7 would be played in Boston on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31, if necessary.
—Field Level Media