Friday, October 18, 2013

Dodgers-Cardinals NLCS Game 6: Clayton Kershaw's time to shine

This is it. This is Clayton Kershaw’s most important start of his career, and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers took two-of-three from the Cardinals in Los Angeles, but because they failed to steal one of the first two games of the National League Championship Series, Kershaw is next on the list of pitchers to help the Dodgers stave off elimination.

Kershaw threw six brilliant innings in St. Louis on Saturday (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 72 pitches) only to be lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the 7th inning because Nick Punto had gotten on base with two outs. With the Dodgers trailing 1-0 at the time (and ultimately the final score), it was the right move.

This is unlike Kershaw’s first start of this postseason, when he threw 124 pitches in seven innings (and came back to throw 91 pitches in six innings on three days’ rest). This time, Kershaw comes back on full rest after having thrown just 72 pitches.

This is it, Clayton. This is your time to shine.

Well, Kershaw’s been shining brightly ever since the Dodgers drafted him, so it’s to be expected. The Dodgers will get a great performance out of him, and he will give the Dodgers the best chance to win.

If the offense can get him a few runs, they’ll be golden. Kershaw is 55-0 with four or more runs of support in his career. This season, he got 3.79 runs per game of support -- good for 57th-best in the majors. The game’s best pitcher got the 57th-best run support. That’s baseball for ya.

If guys like Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and even A.J. Ellis can stay hot, the Dodgers just might have a chance to pull this series out.

But first, they have to win Game 6. Obviously, it’d be better if the Dodgers were up in the series, but if they have to be down, I want no other pitcher on the mound than the next Sandy Koufax.

Make it happen, Clayton.

Photo credit: TBS screencap

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