The narrative of Clayton Kershaw’s playoff failure was always something bigger and more intense than it had any logical right to be. It conveniently ignored key context of managerial decisions and bullpen strength, not to mention brushed aside the number of perfectly fine and even good postseason starts that he has made. But simply reciting the facts on their own is almost never enough to unravel a story like this once it’s taken hold—in the minds of media, fans, maybe even the player himself.
Kershaw pitched four innings of scoreless relief last night on just two days’ rest. The Dodgers lost to the Astros anyway, unable to climb out of the hole they’d put themselves in before Kershaw ever took the mound. And here is what he told USA Today’s Josh Peter about it:
“Maybe one of these days I won’t fail, we won’t fail and we’ll win one of these things,” Kershaw said, finding little consolation in the team’s 104 regular-season victories. “…There’s only one team that can succeed. There’s only one team that wins the last game, so that’s tough.”
“...This month felt like 27 years,” he said. “You can ask my wife too. I think it took 10 years off her life. It’s just every game, every pitch, it’s just so intense. …
“It’s hard. You go through this much effort to win that many games against this many good teams and it’s, I mean, I hope to get to this point again.”
Kershaw was great last night! Kershaw was great in Game 1, which the Dodgers won! Kershaw was not especially great in Game 5, which the Dodgers lost in extra innings, but he was certainly far from the reason for their loss. And this is still what he has: “Maybe one of these days I won’t fail.”
Life is pain.