Heading into Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the New York Mets, the pressure was undeniably on Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Much was made of Kershaw’s postseason demons and his inability to shake free of them.
The southpaw turned in one of the better postseason outings of his career, going seven innings and allowing three hits and one earned run, while striking out eight batters. Although Kershaw gave up another solo home run to Daniel Murphy, he did not allow a baserunner to advance beyond first base.
Following the loss, Mets third baseman David Wright credited Kershaw for improving on his Game 1 start, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
I don’t think anyone was going to outpitch Clayton Kershaw tonight. What he did tonight a lot better than what he did out in LA was throwing all his pitches for strikes and really throwing each pitch where he wanted to,” Wright said. “In L.A., you could almost go up there and forget about the curveball because he was having a hard time commanding it. Tonight, he was commanding all three, and was flat-out unhittable.”
Kershaw largely kept the Mets off balance throughout the night, with Murphy among the few to make solid contact at any point. Yoenis Cespedes did reach on an infield single in the bottom of the seventh, though Kershaw didn’t allow it to snowball as he proceeded to retire the next three batters.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly doesn’t expect to call on the reigning NL MVP and three-time Cy Young Award-winner out of the bullpen in Game 5 of the NLDS, which means it will be up to Zack Greinke and the rest of the staff to keep the Mets at bay in the winner-take-all elimination game.