Los Angeles Dodgers

Playoff Kershaw, Howie Kendrick grand slam dooms LA Dodgers in Game 5

After blowing it in Game 2 of the NLDS, Playoff Kershaw struck once again in Game 5, dooming the Los Angeles Dodgers at the worst possible time.

….Not again, Clayton Kershaw. Not like this.

In every major sport, there are always all-time greats who can never be held in even higher esteem because of their shortcomings in the playoffs. From Chris Paul and Karl Malone in the NBA to Dan Marino and Barry Sanders in the NFL, there have always been players who were historically dominant in the regular season, only to fall short time after time in the postseason.

When it comes to the disparity between regular season feast and postseason famine, Clayton Kershaw may be at the very top of the list, no matter the sport. Playoff Kershaw has long been an mocking nickname to allude to his repeated failures in October, but he’s done very little to end its use.

If anything, his oh-so predictable failures in the postseason have only made it worse.

After giving up an early 3-0 lead to the Washington Nationals that ultimately led to a Dodgers loss in Game 2 of the 2019 NLDS, Kershaw was somehow even worse in Wednesday’s do-or-die Game 5. After relieving Walker Buehler in the top of the 7th and striking out Adam Eaton to end the inning, Kershaw returned to the mound at the top of the 8th.

With Los Angeles leading 3-1, at home, Kershaw threw a ball on his first pitch of the inning. On his second pitch, Anthony Rendon knocked the ball back 381 feet for a solo shot to pull the Nats within one run.

On the very next pitch, Kershaw gave up another home run, this time a monster 449-foot homer to Juan Soto, and suddenly, the lead was blown and the game was tied at 3-3. In just two pitches, the momentum at Dodger Stadium shifted dramatically. He was immediately removed from the game, but the damage had already been done.

Kent Maeda was able to clean things up to close out the 8th and Joe Kelly did his job in the 9th inning to hold the Nationals scoreless, but in the top of the 10th, Washington quickly loaded the bases after Eaton was walked, Rendon hit a ground rule double and Juan Soto got on base.

At that point, Howie Kendrick homered on Kelly’s second pitch, giving the Nationals a commanding 7-3 lead on a grand slam with no outs. According to ESPN Stats & Info, it was just the second grand slam in extra innings in MLB postseason history.

As a three-time Cy Young winner, former NL MVP and owner of the second-lowest career hits allowed per nine innings in MLB history (6.61), it’s simply staggering to see Kershaw’s regular season career ERA of 2.44 nearly double come playoff time, as his postseason ERA sits at 4.33.

Next: Best starting pitchers in MLB history

Joe Kelly may have given up the costly grand slam in extra innings, but it was the return of Playoff Kershaw that cost the Dodgers their season in stunning fashion, and quite possibly, Dave Roberts his job.

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