Clayton Kershaw channeled his inner Madison Baumgarner to secure the final 2 outs of the 9th inning of the Dodgers 4-3 series clinching Game 5 win over the Nationals in D.C. last night. The Dodgers will now face the Cubs in a made-for-TV NLCS.
Kershaw’s 2-out save came only two days after he pitched 6 innings and allowed 5 runs in the Dodgers Game 4 win. He entered the game with the Dodgers clinging to a one run lead with two runners on base, on the road.
The Dodgers were shut down by Nat’s starter Max Scherzer through the early innings, and held a 1-0 lead through 6.
Joc Pederson’s solo bomb to lead off the 7th tied the game for the Dodgers, ended Scherzer’s night, and ignited a 4-run inning for L.A.
After Chris Helsey’s two run pinch-hit home run pulled Washington within a run, at 4-3 with no outs in the bottom of the 7th, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts went with his closer Kenley Jansen, who preserved the 1-run lead through the 7th and 8th.
But, after back-to-back one out walks in the 9th, and playoff assassin Daniel Murphy coming to the plate, Roberts smashed the emergency glass and hit the red button for Kershaw to secure the final two outs.
Kershaw induced Murphy to pop out, and then proceeded to strike out pinch hitter Wilmer Difo to end the game and clinch the Dodgers’ birth in the NLCS, where they will face the Cubs.
The save was Kershaw’s first relief appearance since 2009, and his first save since 2006, when he was in Vero Beach in the Florida Gulf Coast League. His catcher on that occasion….Dodgers closer, and then minor league catcher, Kenley Jansen. Mind blown.