LOS ANGELES ― Unless Clayton Kershaw never pitches a postseason game again, the details of Game 2 of the National League Division Series will not be told and retold once his Hall of Fame-worthy career is over.
As memorable moments in Kershaw’s long postseason career go, Wednesday offered but one: with his second-inning strikeout of Trent Grisham, Kershaw surpassed Justin Verlander as baseball’s all-time postseason strikeout leader. He finished with seven strikeouts in all – and 214 in his postseason career – but did not factor into the decision, exiting a 3-3 game after five innings.
Kershaw also allowed six hits, three runs (all earned) and did not walk a batter. That he lasted five innings at all might have been his most meaningful accomplishment of Game 2.
Manny Machado gave San Diego a 1-0 lead in the first inning when he clobbered a poorly placed slider over the left-field fence. It was Machado’s fourth career home run against Kershaw, and his second ever in the postseason.
“If I throw it where I’m supposed to, I think I get him,” Kershaw said.
Facing the top of the Padres’ lineup for the second time, he allowed consecutive hits to Ha-Seong Kim, Juan Soto and Machado to begin the third inning. The last of the three – an RBI double by Machado – narrowed the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2.
Then, with two runners on base and no outs in the inning, Kershaw was able to reverse course. San Diego tied the score later that inning on a groundout but did not get another hit. He even retired Kim, Soto, and Machado in order in an 11-pitch fifth inning.
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“It was huge to get him through five,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It allowed us to stay away from some (relievers).”
The Dodgers ultimately lost the game, 5-3, setting the stage for a potential winner-take-all Game 5 on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Kershaw threw 80 pitches, which in theory would not preclude him from pitching in some capacity on three days’ rest.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner didn’t rule it out.
“Hopefully we don’t get there,” he said, “but I think everybody will be ready for that.”