The Dodgers made postseason history with their 11-run first-inning outburst in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series Wednesday. But ghosts of October past were hauntingly familiar last night in a Game 4 to the Braves, 10-2, leaving Los Angeles on the verge of elimination.
Clayton Kershaw carried the only playoff history that truly matters into his Game 4 start. A 4.23 postseason ERA showed that relying on him to rescue the Dodgers’ season was folly.
Yet for five innings, Kershaw allowed only one run, serving up a homer to the now-unstoppable Marcell Ozuna. Manager Dave Roberts should’ve realized that Kershaw was as good as he needed to be, then moved on.
Instead, he brought the left-hander out for one inning too many. Letting Kershaw face the top of Atlanta’s batting order for a third time was courting disaster and doom predictably followed.
No, the Dodgers’ offense disappearing after its Game 3 eruption, shut down by a rookie who hadn’t pitched since Sept. 27, didn’t help Kershaw. Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, and Cody Bellinger combined to bat an inexplicable 0-for-15.
Maybe that keeps Roberts from shouldering the entire blame for Game 4 falling out of reach. But the Dodgers have been here before and it’s difficult to imagine that the manager will get another chance to redeem himself.
Until that decision comes, the Dodgers are down 3-1 in the series and fans are largely left to wishful thinking about Atlanta sports history. But does the Falcons blowing a 28-3 lead to the Patriots in Super Bowl LI really apply here in any way?
No pressure on Dustin May, right? Just the Dodgers’ season at stake. May was the team’s Opening Day starter, so if this is the final game for 2020 he’ll be the curly red-maned bookends for the entire campaign.
The Dodgers’ salvation might be that the Braves are forced to start either Josh Tomlin or Kyle Wright, both of whom were pummeled earlier in this series. That’s what this season has come to. The postseason continuing might depend on the opposing manager’s decision.
Ian Casselberry watchdogs sports media for Awful Announcing. He’s covered baseball for SB Nation, Yahoo Sports and MLive, and was one of Bleacher Report’s first lead MLB writers. Please follow Ian on Twitter @iancass and give him a listen at The Podcass.