LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw cut to the chase.
He’s had to do this a few times before.
“When you don’t win the last game of the season and you’re to blame for it, it’s not fun,’’ he said Wednesday night following the Los Angeles Dodgers’ season-ending loss to the Washington Nationals. “…Yeah, it’s just a terrible feeling.’’
The Clayton Kershaw -induced nausea of the Dodgers’ 7-3, 10-inning loss in Game 5 of the National League Division Series unfolded like this:
Top of the eighth. Dodgers led 3-1. Out came Kershaw, pitching in relief.
First batter: Anthony Rendon. The Nationals slugger blasted Kershaw’s second pitch for a home run into the left-field bleachers.
Second batter: Juan Soto. Batting cleanup for the Nationals, the 20-year-old crushed Kershaw’s very next pitch 449 feet to right-center.
Three pitches. Two home runs. Just like that, the Nationals were tied 3-3 and Kershaw was on his way to the showers.
“You know, I had a job to do. Get three outs,’’ Kershaw said.
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In fact, Clayton Kershaw had gotten an out. A big one.
At the top of the seventh, with two outs and runners on first and second, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts brought in Kershaw to replace starting pitcher Walker Buehler. Kershaw promptly struck out Adam Eaton on three pitches and ended the scare.
But an inning later, Clayton Kershaw served up the homers to Rendon and Soto.
“There’s no excuses. Just didn’t make pitches,’’ Kershaw said and later added, “Everything people say is true right now, about the postseason. I understand that.’’
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts faced criticism and questions after the game about why he sent Kershaw back out for the eighth after he had gotten the big out an inning earlier.
“For him to make himself available tonight and get us out of a big spot right there,” Roberts said. “it just didn’t work out. There’s always going to be second-guessing when things don’t work out, but I’ll take my chances any day on Clayton.”
Clayton Kershaw in the dugout after being removed in the eighth inning. (Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports)
During Kershaw’s 12 seasons in the majors, he has a 2.44 ERA. But in 158 ⅓ career postseason innings, he has a 4.33 ERA.
“I’m not going to get down about it about myself,’’ Kershaw said. “I’m not going to feel sorry about myself. I just feel sorry for these guys in this (clubhouse) room. That’s about it.’’
And how long will it take to get over this latest disappointment?
“I’ve had to do it so much, I don’t know,” Kershaw said. “It might linger for a while. I might not get over it. I don’t know.
“But spring training’s going to come, I’m going to have to be ready to pitch and do the job the best we can.’’