Clayton Kershaw Save A Game and Maybe A Season

He will have to do more for the nickname stick, as it is always what happens with Clayton Kershaw. More tickets, more strikeouts, more prizes. More playoff starts on short rest. Always more.

“We do not ask much of it as he asks her out himself,” said Stan Kasten, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“That’s one of the hallmarks of Clayton No one is a harder worker or wants the ball more -. Ever.”

In the chaos of binge visiting clubhouse here Friday morning after Kershaw first save since he was 18 years old and pitch in the League Gulf Coast, Kasten found Kershaw and called Mr. October.

That was what they called Reggie Jackson in the 1970s, when Jackson was blasting home runs against the Dodgers in the World Series.

It’s right there on your plate gold in the Hall of Fame. Kershaw seems destined to be there, too. He is 28 years old and has already done enough.

What is missing, of course, it is a World Series title. Kershaw has never played at that stage, but the Dodgers swept the cliff to make this division series own. He pitched in three games against the Washington Nationals, and the Dodgers won them all.

“Nobody wants more of it,” said Justin Turner, Dodgers third baseman, whose two-run triple pushed end racing team in the tense 4-3 victory in Game 5.

“His tireless work ethic, how much racing, only for him to go and tell them, ‘Hey, I can go and close this thing out if you need me”, which says a lot about the type of player he is. It is a winner. He is a champion. ”

Perhaps it will be soon. For now, Kershaw was everything else: a three-time winner of the Cy Young Award, a more valuable player, the first player $ 30 million a year in baseball history, the only pitcher in the last decade 300-strikeout season. The postseason is your last mountain to climb.

The raw numbers tell an incomplete story: a record of 3-6, 4.79 E. R.A. – And even higher this series, when his victory in Game 1 was grinding and indicated Game 4 undid the end.

Kershaw has not always been lucky, but theirs has been dominant in the postseason, with 96 strikeouts in 77 innings. Their bullpen has not.

In Game 5, Kershaw demanded a new role: closer. At the start of Game 4 on Tuesday, he had pitched on short rest in the division series for the fourth consecutive year.

Manager Dave Roberts told reporters on Thursday afternoon – and initially Kershaw said on the bench during the match – it would not be used in relief. Kershaw persisted.

“I really feel good,” he said later. “I have no injury problems. Back feels good, it feels good arm. At the end of the day, if we do not win this game, we go home anyway, so what does it matter? I just wanted to be available.”

The Dodgers star closer, Kenley Jansen, came to pitch in the bottom of the seventh, protecting a one-run lead.

Jansen had never worked more than two innings or thrown more than 42 pitches in a game. He overcomes much this time, but he gave two bases with one out in the ninth.

Daniel Murphy, the master of the N. L. playoffs, came to bat. After Kershaw insisted that could launch an entry, Roberts plans to use him to Murphy.

This, then, was the time: a new opportunity for the best pitcher of his generation to prove in October, the chance to be like Orel Hershiser and Randy Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Madison Bumgarner: morph instantly start postseason ace closer.

Kershaw did. Murphy got into a fastball high, inside a pop to second. The Nationals then asked the last man on his bench, rookie Wilmer Difo, to bat for the pitcher.

Kershaw fanned with a curve in the earth, and catcher Carlos Ruiz was wrapped in a hug.

Kershaw had never tended to Ruiz in a game. The Dodgers Ruiz had acquired in a trade with Philadelphia in late August, which is A. J. Ellis, the popular veteran, to reach it. Ellis was a stalwart of the Dodgers, a close friend of Kershaw, and its loss swatted the clubhouse.

But Ruiz provided a marginal upgrade against left-handed pitching and brought a pedigree of champions Phillies. It has been vetted single in the seventh – was a southpaw, Sammy Solis – Kershaw and led at the end.

“I think actually crossed on the first pitch, and it was my fault,” Kershaw said. “He did a good job of just playing that first pitch down.

He has captured a lot of bullpen, and he’s really worked since he came to try to learn the pitchers. He’s a guy you want on your team, no doubt. ”

So Kershaw, of course – in the regular season and, yes, in October.

“Do not even go there,” said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. . “This man, who was good Yes, he has had a couple of entries that have gone mad, that’s what happens in any game.

Still the best. They want it out there no matter what, and I think this shows once again today. It’s like, ‘I’m ready for whatever. ”

“And today – I mean, you can look at a lot of people, and some people have crazy postseasons But for me, this was a little tip the balance the other way So I hope you start going your way…”

Kershaw, clearly, was due to a night like this. You now have an opportunity for more, the opportunity to contribute to depriving a trip to the World Series for the Cubs, who have waited for N. L. pennant since 1945.

One or the other, best pitcher of the game or cursed Cubs eventually go to the World Series. Kershaw fixed the confrontation with the two major outputs of your life.

“That’s the guy you want to win or lose the game for you,” said Farhan Zaidi, general manager of the Dodgers. “And he won.”

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