The Dodgers are just one win away from their first World Series championship since 1988.
After one of the most heartbreaking losses imaginable on Saturday, the Dodgers bounced back with a 4-2 victory over the Rays in Game 5 on Sunday. And they got there with their long-tenured ace leading the way.
Clayton Kershaw continued to exorcise his postseason demons by allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings of work. He wasn’t necessarily at his best, but he held the Rays off the board outside of the third inning, where Yandy Diaz delivered an RBI triple and Randy Arozarena (who else?) knocked in a run with a single. Arozarena now has 27 hits, the most ever in a single postseason.
The Rays threatened to tie things up in the fourth inning after Manuel Margot drew a leadoff walk and stole second base before advancing to third on an error by Chris Taylor. Kershaw appeared to be in real trouble after walking Hunter Renfroe, but he retired Joey Wendle on a pop up and struck out Willy Adames swinging before Margot was caught on a straight steal attempt of home plate. Margot tried to take advantage of Kershaw’s long windup and was nearly successful, but the southpaw didn’t get rattled and was right on the money with his throw to catcher Will Smith. It was a big-time risk and one that didn’t pay off.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled Kershaw after he retired the first two batters in the sixth on just two pitches, which appeared to irk Justin Turner as well as the fans in attendance (and most of Twitter, for that matter), but Dustin May blew away Manuel Margot for the final out of the frame. May, Victor Gonzalez, and Blake Treinen combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings to close this one out.
Kershaw struck out six and walked a pair for his second win of the series and now holds a 2.93 ERA and 37/5 K/BB ratio in 30 2/3 innings over five starts this postseason. Not bad for a guy who was pushed back during the NLDS against the Padres due to back spasms. Coming out of Game 5, Kershaw has now amassed 207 career postseason strikeouts, passing Justin Verlander (205) for the most all-time. This postseason run should silence some of the critics about Kershaw’s legacy, though it would help if the Dodgers finally finish the job. Kershaw could still have a role in that if this series ends up going seven games.
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As for the Dodgers’ offense in Game 5, they attacked Tyler Glasnow from the jump. Mookie Betts led off the bottom of the first with a double before Corey Seager knocked him in with a single. Cody Bellinger added another run in the frame with an infield single before Joc Pederson smacked a solo homer in the second inning and Max Muncy slugged a long homer in the fifth. The Dodgers now have nine different players who have homered during the World Series, a new record. Appropriately enough, Glasnow has allowed nine homers this postseason, which is also a record. The overall line for Glasnow wasn’t great — four runs on six hits and three walks over five innings with a World Series record three wild pitches — but he actually did a solid job after a laborious start to his evening. Still, the Rays are now one loss from elimination.