Video Credit: MLB

Recap: Dodgers vs Padres – NLDS – Game 2

Dodgers (4-0) | Padres (2-5)


For the Dodgers faithful, watching Clayton Kershaw pitch in the postseason has been painful, if not down right depressing. For all the future Hall of Famer has accomplished in the regular season, his postseason failures have been the only chink in his career armor.


Photo Credit: Dodger Blue

There are plenty of Hall of Fame pitchers who didn’t have postseason success but still have the reputation of being great, for instance Las Vegas native and World Series champion Greg Maddox. Kershaw entered Wednesday’s game with a career postseason record of 10-11 with a 4.22 ERA, while Maddox had an 11-14 record with a 3.27 ERA.

Does the lack of postseason “success” diminish Maddox’s Hall of Fame career like some try to do with Kershaw? That isn’t talked about when it comes to Maddox, and if Kershaw has success this postseason, many won’t with him either.

Let’s take a look back at the postseason lowlights in Kershaw’s career. I want to point out that yes, I am putting the Houston Astros 2017 World Series in this even though they were caught cheating using a trash can to tip pitches.

  • 2018 World Series vs Boston Red Sox – 0-2 / 7.36 ERA
  • 2018 NLCS vs Milwaukee Brewers – 1-1 / 4.09 ERA
  • 2017 World Series vs Houston Astros – 1-0 / 4.02 ERA
  • 2017 NLDS vs Arizona Diamond Backs – 1-0 / 5.68 ERA
  • 2016 NLCS vs Chicago Cubs – 1-1 / 3.00 ERA
  • 2014 NLDS vs  St. Louis Cardinals – 0-2 / 7.82 ERA
  • 2013 NLCS vs St. Louis Cardinals – 0-2 / 6.30 ERA
  • 2009 NLCS vs Philadelphia Phillies – 0-1 / 9.45 ERA


Admittedly, not all of this was on Kershaw. The Dodgers had instances where they put him in a position to fail by leaving him in too long (like last year in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Washington Nationals). The bullpen wasn’t always so great, then-manager Don Mattingly and even current skipper Dave Roberts did not help Kershaw and the stigma he now owns.


Dodgers vs Padres
Photo Credit: LA Times

“Everything people say is true right now about the postseason,” Kershaw told reporters after the Nationals game last year. “I understand that. Nothing I can do about it right now, it’s a terrible feeling.” 

That is why this postseason is so important to Kershaw. He knows the end of his career is coming, and he longs for the opportunity to exorcise those demons while winning a World Series title for the Dodgers. Roberts also recognizes this and has publicly and privately supported his ace.

“The number one thing is he’s healthy. And really, Clayton has done a great job trying to get back and working hard diligently every single day with the training staff.” Roberts said, ” For him to be healthy and not have to guard and protect against his body or his back, I think it allows him that freedom to execute pitches…He was our ace last year, he’s pitching like an ace again.” 

So on Wednesday night, when Kershaw took the mound against the Padres in his hometown of Dallas, he and the Dodgers needed to come out with a performance that started the exorcism of postseason Kershaw.


Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres – National League Divisional Series Game #2


Game 2 – Win – 6-5


Dodgers vs Padres
Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As noted in my past Dodgers article previewing this series, Kershaw is throwing harder and having more definition and bite to his curveball this season. This offseason he restructured his training regimen and when MLB shut the season down due to COVID-19 he used the time to do even more work and get healthy. That made his 2020 numbers even more impressive. He finished the season posting a 6-2 record with a 2.16 ERA, 62 strikeouts, and a WHIP of .84.

After an easy, eight-pitch first inning, Kershaw gave up a bloop single to right field by Tommy Pham followed by a Will Meyers RBI double and had the Dodgers fall behind 1-0. But at the bottom of the third, the Dodgers got things going after singles by AJ Pollock and Austin Barnes. After Mookie Betts lined out to a diving Manny Machado, robbing him of an extra-base hit, Corey Seager ripped an RBI double down the right-field line to score Pollock and Barnes. Seager then came around to score on a Max Muncy single to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead after three innings.


Kershaw wasn’t as sharp against the Padres as he was against the Brewers, but he didn’t have to be since the Dodgers offense woke up and gave him a cushion to work with.


Former NL MVP Cody Bellinger led off the fourth inning with a solo home run to right field, giving the Dodgers and Kershaw a 4-1 lead. This was huge for Bellinger, who hasn’t had the postseason success in past years. Coming into the game, Bellinger was hitting .186 with four home runs and 14 RBI’s, though he did hit .286 in the National League Wild Card Series.

Dodgers vs Padres
Photo Credit: Action Network

Machado took Kershaw deep to left field to lead off the sixth inning, and Eric Hosmer followed it with his own solo shot to cut the Dodgers lead to 4-3. Kershaw and the Dodgers were able to get out of the inning with no further damage done. The Dodgers went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the sixth.

Kershaw was done for the night as Blake Treinen took over in relief. Kershaw’s line for the night was 6 innings pitched, allowing 3 earned runs on six hits, walking none, and striking out six. It was now up to the Dodgers bullpen, which is statically was one of Major League Baseball’s best, but has struggled in recent weeks.


Kershaw left inline for the win and did his job getting the Dodgers bullpen just nine outs to get.



Photo Credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP

After Treinen got the first two batters out before hitting Trent Grisham with an inside slider. He was relived by Busdar Graterol who was facing Tatis Jr.  The stud shortstop took his 1-1 pitch deep to centerfield where Bellinger robbed him of the would-be go-a-head homerun with a marvelous catch going high over the centerfield wall pulling the ball back in play inside his glove.

Graterol was so excited he threw his glove and hat towards the Dodgers dugout, which drew the ire of Machado, who has a history of issues himself. He started to yell at the young Dodgers’ reliever, who turned, smiled, and waved to him while other Dodgers players started to yell back, telling Machado to shut up and go back ton his dugout.

“When he hit his home run, he threw the bat… Then we take one away; we can celebrate too. So there’s gotta be two sides to it.” Mookie Betts told Ken Rosenthal on the FS1 telecast on the exchanges with Machado after the Bellinger catch.

In the bottom half of the inning, Barnes walked, Betts grounded into a fielders choice beating the throw to first base, and Seager singled. After the Padres put Drew Pomeranz in to pitch, Betts and Seager promptly stole third and second base. Justin Turner then hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Betts, and Muncy hit a teardrop single to left, scoring Seager giving the Dodgers a 6-3 lead after seven innings.


The seventh inning was exactly why the Dodgers traded for Betts. His identity and his leadership is written all over this years’ team.



Dodgers vs Padres
Photo Credit: CBS Sports

In years past, the Dodgers would’ve struggled to regain momentum, even if they were ahead like they were. But Betts has brought a confidence and swagger to the team and a no-nonsense attitude that gives them a different vibe from years past. This can be said for Kershaw as well. It seemed that after Kershaw gave up the back-to-back homeruns, the Dodgers and Kershaw didn’t bat an eyelash, and kept playing their brand of baseball.

Kenley Jansen came in for the Dodgers to close the game out and give the Dodgers the chance to end the best-of-five series on Thursday evening. Jansen seemed to have found his cutter’s late-life during the brief break the Dodgers had between the NLWCS and NLDS. He struggled to set the Padres down to give up an RBI double to Grisham to make it 6-5, and Roberts pulled Jansen for Joe Kelly to face Tatis Jr.

Kelly came in and walked Tatis Jr. after running the count full. The Padres now had runners on first and the tying run on second with Machado up to bat. It’s funny how the baseball gods work, huh? Machado, the former Dodger who earlier in the game was yelling at his former team for showing emotion and excitement after a big play, was now up to potentially give his team new life. After running the count to 3-2, Kelly walked him loading the bases for Hosmer.

Kelly got Hosmer to ground out to the Dodgers second basemen KiKi Hernandez and gave the Dodgers the win and a 2-0 series lead.

For the first time in his career Clayton Kershaw has the team to rid himself of those postseason demons. Even with him not having his best stuff, like on Wednesday night, the Dodgers came through for him.



The Dodgers now will try to finish the series off against the Padres in Game 3 of the NLDS tomorrow. The first pitch scheduled for 6:08 pm and can be seen on MLB Network.



Scheduled to pitch in Game 3 Thursday, 10/8

Dodgers: TBD – Padres: Adrian Morejon (0-0 / 0.00 ERA)


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Joe Arrigo

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