1 Win Away For LA

If the Dodgers don’t win the World Series, it’s not on Kershaw.

Jim Rome
October 26, 2020 - 10:52 am
Clayton Kershaw

USA Today

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WHAT AN INSANE weekend for the Los Angeles Dodgers and for Dodger fans. You had the Walker Buehler gem on Friday night that gave LA a 2-1 series lead. And then the Dodgers had the lead in the ninth inning on Saturday night.  AND WERE JUST A STRIKE AWAY FROM PUTTING A CHOKEHOLD ON THE RAYS AND THE SERIES…. And then this happened.

More than a day and a half later, and that play is still completely insane to me. Brett Phillips was so clutch. This whole Rays team is so clutch. 

And you know Dodger fans had to be losing their minds. One strike away from a 3-1 lead. One strike away from being a game away from a title and then all hell breaks loose.

After that, Dodger fans were freaking out. They were seeing ghosts. Instead of Clayton Kershaw taking the mound in Game 5 with the chance to clinch a World Series, he was taking the mound to stop the bleeding, reverse the momentum, and get LA right again.

And here’s the awful truth – if Kershaw didn’t show up huge last night, nobody would remember Kenley Jansen’s ninth inning in Game 4, or Chris Taylor’s bobble in the outfield, or Will Smith missing the throw at home. It would all be about Kershaw and Dave Roberts. It would be completely unfair, but it would be on them. You know it would be, because it always is, no matter how jacked the narrative is about Kershaw and Roberts coming up short in the postseason; they were going to get the heat and take the fall if there was another dodgers implosion, regardless of how much of it was actually on them. 

And Dodger fans were gripping. How would the Dodgers respond to that gutting loss? To come that close and lose it on a two-out, two-strike hit to a defensive replacement who was more known for his laugh than his bat was brutal.

Here’s how the Dodgers would respond: with Mookie Betts starting off Game 5 with an 8-pitch at-bat that ended with a double. And then Corey Seager hitting him in.

That is how you respond to getting tased in Game 4 – come back in Game 5 and immediately take the lead. And you simply cannot say enough about what Cory Seager is doing in the postseason. He is doing everything on such an elite level right now, including running the bases, taking second and then third on wild pitches.

And Cody Bellinger ain’t t bad either, who followed that with an infield single.

2-0 Dodgers before Kershaw even took the mound. He only faced three batters in the first inning and then Joc Pederson led off the top of the second with a shot. 

3-0 Dodgers. Again, that is a hell of a response from the Dodgers. I know Dodger fans were preparing for the worst. There is a ton of scar tissue that needs to be worked through, but the players handled it a lot better than the fans did.

But you knew the Rays weren’t going away. Those guys battle for absolutely everything. They do not go away. I’ve tried to tell you time and time again, they are tough. They don’t blink, they don’t flinch, and they just don’t give a damn; they’re not comfortable until they’re uncomfortable.

And sure enough, they came back with two of their own in the third to make it 3-2 and then in the fourth, Manny Margot, who was on third, damn near went legend.

That is awesome. Absolutely the best. I don’t care that he was doing it with two outs or that it took the bat out of the hands of a really clutch hitter in Kevin Kiermaier, I love it. I absolutely love it.

That is cool. That is brash. That is awesome. And he damn near pulled it off. He was inches from totally changing the game and the series. How aggressive is that bleep?!  They tried to steal home in a World Series game: to me, a holy crap moment: watching that, from couch, I literally said out loud are you f’ing kidding me with that? That is incredible.

Can you imagine what it would’ve done to the Dodgers to lose Game 4 the way they did and then see Game 5 tied up with a steal of home?

And even better is the fact that he made the call himself. As he said after the game, through an interpreter, "It was 100 percent my decision. I thought it was a good idea at the time. I had a pretty good chance of being safe.”

Hell yes. That’s my guy. That is so great. It wasn’t a good idea at the time, it was an awesome idea at the time. And he had a really good chance of being safe.

He got to third with no outs and was still standing there with two outs. Time to make something happen. Time to try to make history. And if it wasn’t for perfect execution by the Dodgers, he would’ve.

And as long as we’re handing out respect, now would be a pretty good time to stop giving Clayton Kershaw crap for how he pitches in the postseason. Here are some numbers: 4-1, 2.93 ERA, 37 strikeouts, 5 walks this postseason.

That isn’t just good for this postseason, that’s good in any postseason. And you could tell how good he was last night by how pissed the Dodger fans in the stadium were when Dave Roberts came to get him.

And check what he did in the fourth inning. He walked Margot. Then Margot steals second and gets to third on the error. Then Kershaw walks Hunter Renfroe. It’s first and third with nobody out. The tying run is ninety feet from home. Most guys who quote “can’t handle the pressure of the postseason” take a big dump in their pants.

Not Kershaw. He went to work, hitting one spot after another. Getting a pop up and a three pitch strikeout. He flipped that inning so quickly that it made Margot feel like he had to make something happen and that led to the third out. That was tough as hell.

He’d be the first to tell you that he might not have what he used to have in his arm. Shoot, he last night, he might not have even had what he had earlier this season, but that was some bulldog competitive stuff on the mound last night. He found a way to get it done.

As Dave Roberts said: "He just grinded. He willed himself to that point. And I will say, it wasn't his best stuff, but he found a way to get outs, and I give him all the credit."

And Kershaw deserves all the credit. Get outs, that’s the name of the game. Get outs and leave with a lead. And this was one of those times where the bullpen backed him up and kept that lead.  

If the Dodgers don’t win the World Series, it’s not on Kershaw. He’s done his job, and then some. He started them off with a series lead and then came back to rescue them when they needed it most. That is brass as hell. That is what your franchise pitcher does in the postseason.

He starts you off when you need it and sets you right when you need that too. And now, because of him, the Dodgers are one win away from a ring. One freaking win away from a title. Not only did Kershaw not cost them a ring last night he may have just won them one, and changed a narrative completely that was all jacked up with to begin with.