2017 World Series Game 1 Recap: It's All About Clayton Kershaw

The best pitcher in baseball pitched like it in Game 1 of the Fall Classic for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The last time the Los Angeles Dodgers played in Game 1 of a World Series, we couldn't believe what we just saw. Kirk Gibson's shocking dinger off the Oakland Athletics' Dennis Eckersley is still one of the greatest moment in World Series history, effectively ending the 1988 Fall Classic before it even really got going.

On Tuesday night, Clayton Kershaw made sure things weren't quite as dramatic, but he did give a historic performance of his own.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner, who has a shot at winning his fourth this offseason, obliterated the "not a big-game pitcher" narrative against him once and for all by hurling 7 innings and giving up 1 run on 3 hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts in the Dodgers' 3-1, series-opening win over the Houston Astros.

The southpaw became the first pitcher since noted baseball great Howard Ehmke to whiff 11 or more in his World Series debut, which happened 87 years ago. The last pitcher to strike out at least 11 in a World Series game was Bob Gibson in 1968 (he struck out 17). Kershaw's 45% strikeout rate is topped only by Gibson in that same game, and this accomplishment is even more impressive because the Astros struck out fewer times than any team in baseball this year.

Kershaw has been dogged throughout his postseason career by a few late-inning hiccups, some of which have been costly. He threw a clunker in Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS when he gave up 7 runs on 10 hits in 4 innings. He was cruising through six innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS the following year (he had allowed just two runs up to that point) before imploding in the seventh by coughing up six in that frame along. And in Game 4 of the 2016 NLDS, he allowed 5 runs in 6.2 innings against the Washington Nationals in a 6-5 win.

But he has a 2.96 ERA in four postseason starts this year and has no made nine quality starts in his playoff career, which is second to only Jon Lester.

Kershaw got some help from the 2017 NLCS co-MVPs in Justin Turner and Chris Taylor. Taylor, batting .286/.419/.657 in 35 at-bats out of the leadoff spot this month, smoked the first pitch he saw from Astros starter Dallas Keuchel over the left field fence for his third bomb of the playoffs.

Houston's outstanding rookie third baseman Alex Bregman answered with a solo shot of his own off Kershaw in the fourth inning to tie the game at 1-1. It stayed that way until Turner continued his postseason onslaught with a clutch two-run homer in the sixth to give Kershaw all the support he would need.

Turner is now hitting an insane .371/.476/.714 this October with 4 homers and a team-leading 14 RBI. The L.A. bullpen followed with two scoreless innings of relief, bringing their postseason shutout streak to 24 consecutive innings, which dates back to last year's NLCS against the Chicago Cubs.

Kershaw's effectiveness and efficiency helped Game 1 move along at a brisk pace, clocking in at two hours and 28 minutes, the shortest postseason game since Game 4 of the 1992 Fall Classic.

Game 1 of the 2017 World Series lacked the drama the Dodgers had in the opening game of the '88 Series, but Kershaw's performance was a different kind of breathtaking. It proved once and for all that the narrative against him in the MLB playoffs should be taken out behind the shed and buried for good.