While Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly downplayed the possibility of starting Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 4, he sat before the media prior to Game 3 and revealed with conviction the ace of his staff would get another shot at the St. Louis Cardinals.
At the time of the announcement, it meant Kershaw would either help the Dodgers stave off elimination and force a winner-takes-all Game 5 at Chavez Ravine, or he’d be in position to get the Dodgers into the National League Championship Series.
Kershaw wound up pitching for the Dodgers’ lives Tuesday and for six innings, there appeared to be a realistic chance Dodger Stadium would host another postseason game this year. Then the seventh inning rolled around and the Cardinals once again came to life.
Matt Holliday led off the inning with an infield single, Jhonny Peralta followed with a flare single just past Hanley Ramirez’s outstretched arm, and Matt Adams turned on a hanging breaking ball for a three-run home run that gave the Cardinals a 3-2 lead, which held true over the final two innings.
Undone by one inning that eliminated his team, Kershaw accepted a large portion of responsibility for the loss, according to ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
The season ended and I was a big part of the reason why. It doesn’t feel good, regardless of how you pitched. I can’t really put it into words right now, just bad déjà vu all over again.”
Prior to the barrage of hits that came in the seventh inning, Kershaw had given up just one hit through six innings. His final line of six innings pitched and three runs allowed on four hits is markedly better than his previous postseason starts against the Cardinals, but the outcome remained the same.
The loss was Kershaw’s fourth consecutive in the postseason, all of which have come at the hands of the Cardinals. A 21-game winner in 2014 and likely the NL Cy Young Award winner and perhaps MVP as well, will now endure another off-season wondering what could have been if not for the pesky Cardinals.