Dodgers aim to clinch series with 1-2 pitching punch

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 14, 2015 7:57 PM

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - All season long, the Los Angeles Dodgers have relied on their one-two pitching punch of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and it has been no different in their National League Division Series.

Left-hander Kershaw, pitching on just three days' rest after a loss in Game One, thwarted the Mets in a 3-1 win in New York on Tuesday as the Dodgers staved off playoff elimination to tie up the best-of-five series at 2-2.

Right-hander Greinke, the Game Two winner and a Cy Young candidate who went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA in the regular season, will start Thursday's do-or-die game in Los Angeles.

"With Clayton and Zack, they've given us two guys that stop streaks, save your bullpen, are just day-in, day-out consistent guys," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told a conference call on Wednesday.

"You can really count on what you're going to get from them 90-something percent of the time. That's the value of the two guys ... aces that went out every time and kind of posted and pretty much rested your bullpen, gave your team confidence.

"You felt like you were going to win that day, and that takes the pressure off of the other starters."

However, Mattingly knows the Dodgers will have their hands full on Thursday when the Mets will send to the mound their long-haired ace, Game One winner Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54 ERA).

"We get the ball back to Zack on full rest, who has been one of our pocket aces all year long," said Mattingly, whose Dodgers are aiming to reach the NL Championship Series for a second time in the past three seasons.

"He's pitched great, and we've got to feel good about that situation.

"Obviously they (the Mets) feel good too. They've got their guy ... if he's on and he's throwing the ball where he wants and making pitches, it's going to be a difficult day."

Greinke, who ended the 2015 regular season with 200 strikeouts and a major league best 1.66 ERA, knows he will have to keep his own nerves in check on Thursday.

"I just try to keep it as simple as possible," said the 31-year-old, who has played for four Major League Baseball teams. "Sometimes it's not possible, but that's what you try -- that's what the goal is.

"In my experience, usually you have one good game and one bad game. But the better you pitch, the better your chances are. So my plan is just to pitch as good as possible and hopefully it works out."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)