The Los Angeles Dodgers have been so good in almost every way for so long. They’ve won the NL West *EIGHT STRAIGHT TIMES* and have made several deep postseason runs along the way.
But they haven’t won it all. And along the way, manager Dave Roberts has been maligned for a number of in-game playoff decisions that didn’t work out, and ace Clayton Kershaw has been maligned for playoff performances that never quite matched the guy he was in the regular season. Some of that stuff is exaggerated and becomes myth, but it all started with real issues.
… and the two did their best to underscore those legacies in the Dodgers’ Game 4 loss to the Braves, who now lead the NLCS 3-1.
In the 6th inning, with the Braves’ top of the order coming up for the third time and Kershaw having allowed only one run on the night despite an overall mixed performance, the leash should’ve been very short. But Roberts stuck with Kershaw, who allowed a single, a double, and another double before he was pulled. The inning unraveled from there (so, hey, maybe Brusdar Graterol and the rest of the bullpen would’ve stunk anyway – but it was really just a bunch of ground balls with eyes that inning).
All the stories are going to be about the decision on Kershaw and Kershaw’s performance, even though the Braves won 10-2, with plenty of offense after Kershaw and tons of great pitching:
Roberts’ explanation on the Kershaw decision seemed to ignore that you’re supposed to be forward-looking, especially when your starting pitcher who hasn’t been great on the night (and is coming off a back injury) is facing the heart of the order with runners n base for the third time: “I’m not going to take Clayton out after a weak ground ball and another ground ball off the bat of Freeman,” Roberts said. “I felt really good with Clayton at that point in time.” Note that each of Acuna, Freeman, and Ozuna had smoked the ball off of Kershaw the last time he faced them.
Fair or unfair, and not at all exclusively tied to these kinds of decisions, I’ll say this: after so many division titles and no championships, I wonder at what point Roberts takes the fall.
As for Kershaw, he’s the best pitcher of this generation by a mile, and one of the best pitchers of all-time. It does kinda suck that he can’t get over this hump (whether in reality, or simply in the minds of the baseball public).
The Dodgers will try to keep their hopes alive tonight at 8pm CT.
Meanwhile, the Astros won again to keep their ALCS hopes alive, with Carlos Correa walking things off on a 9th inning homer:
The series is 3-2, and Game 6 is today at 5pm CT. At least now we get another shot at seeing the Astros end their season on something truly awful like a Jose Altuve throwing error.