Clayton Kershaw gave up a solo home run with one out in the first inning and another solo shot, this time with two outs, in the sixth inning. The St. Louis Cardinals’ first home run was courtesy of Randal Grichuk, who to this point was best known for being selected one spot ahead of Mike Trout.
The second home run hit off Kershaw was by Matt Carpeneter, Kershaw’ famed nemesis from Game 6 of the 2013 National League Championship Series. In between the Cardinals’ two home runs, Kershaw retired 16 consecutive batters and the Los Angeles Dodgers got to Adam Wainwright.
Pitching with a 6-2 lead in the seventh inning, Kershaw’s night slowly became unraveled. The Cardinals scored one run on four straight singles and had the bases loaded with no outs. Pete Kozma struck out and Jon Jay plated another run with a base hit to left.
In stepped Carpenter and he cleared the bases with a double into the right-center field gap on the eighth pitch of his at-bat. Carpenter’s big hit gave the Cardinals a 7-6 lead and knocked Kershaw out of the game.
The Cardinals went on to narrowly win the game and following his fourth career postseason loss, Kershaw expressed disappointment in his performance and humbly, perhaps foolishly, questioned if the team would want him to pitch again in the series, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
I feel terrible. Who knows if they even want me to pitch at this point. It’s an awful feeling to let your team down. They got me runs and I couldn’t hold it. As a starting pitcher, it’s your game to lose and I did. That’s not a good feeling. We have a great team. If I don’t get in the way, we have a good chance.”
With a win Saturday, the Dodgers can force a Game 4, which would be played Monday in St. Louis. Along with Kershaw, they’re carrying starters Zack Greinke, Dan Haren and Hyun-Jin Ryu on their NLDS roster. Greinke will take the ball Saturday and Ryu on Sunday in Game 3.
Should the Dodgers get beyond the next two games, Kershaw conceivably could start Game 4 on three days’ rest, which he did in last season’s NLDS — a game the Dodgers won to advance to the NLCS. Kershaw finished the regular season with 198.1 innings-pitched, marking the first time he was below 200 since the 2009 season.
However, before the Dodgers can revisit their plans on a Game 4 starter, they need to win at least one of their two upcoming games.