Soul-crushing disappointment was in the air at Dodger Stadium on Friday, baked in the oppressive heat and cooled in the shadows, leaving a bitter veneer on every surface it touched. Clayton Kershaw, owner of three Cy Young-caliber seasons and a no-hitter, now also has two consecutive postseason starts in which he has been torched for a total of 15 earned runs.
Kershaw did everything in this start, but not in a good way. After giving up a first-inning home run to Randal Grichuk, Kershaw retired 16 straight. At the plate he had two sacrifices and a walk. In the sixth he gave up another homer to his nemesis from last year's NLCS, Matt Carpenter, but escaped further damage. That made the score only 6-2, thanks to RBIs from Hanley, Crawford, Puig and Kemp, and a surprising two-run homer by A.J. Ellis in the fifth.
The seventh inning was Kershaw's undoing; I won't sprinkle more tequila salt on our wounds by recapping it, save to note that Mattingly visited the mound with the bases loaded and one out, and Kershaw convinced him to leave him in the game. The decision paid off initially with a strikeout of Oscar Taveras for the second out, but that damn Carpenter knocked Kershaw out with a two-RBI double. The next pitcher, Pedro Baez, gave up a three-run homer to Matt Holliday.
But don't forget the Dodgers are good enough to create hope, which they did by rallying with an AGon two-run homer in the eighth and a Dee Gordon RBI in the ninth. But they're also bad enough to crush hope on a regular basis, and the Cards' fireballing closer Trevor Rosenthal struck out Puig with Ethier on third to end it. LIVE. BREATHE. LOSE BY ONE.
The Dodgers' bullpen loomed large in this game, even in its absence. Mattingly obviously left Kershaw in for too long, but his fears were justified by Baez's poor performance. It was a lose-lose-lose situation.
Thank goodness for short turnarounds, so we don't have to stew in this mess for long. Baseball is like alcohol, after all: You swear it off one day, and the next you're partaking again. Let's see how this team bounces back in Game 2. Or let's see just how much we fans can take.