The Dodgers put up one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory in 2013, but it came to an end on Friday in embarrassing fashion. They lost NLCS Game 6, in St. Louis, by a score of 9-0.
Clayton Kershaw got lit up on Friday. It was the biggest game of his career, and he could not even get out of the fifth inning in a very uncharacteristic start.
The NL leader in ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP got knocked around for seven runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings, while striking out five.
There is no simple explanation for the poor start, but it is not like Kershaw shrunk under the lights of the postseason. He was sterling in the 2013 playoffs. Kershaw gave up one earned run and eight hits in 19 innings with 23 strikeouts in the postseason, including one start on short rest.
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The end of the season all started in the third inning. With one out, lead-off man Matt Carpenter had a great 11-pitch at-bat that resulted in a double.
Carlos Beltran brought him home on a single, and advanced to second on a bad throw from Yasiel Puig. Kershaw struck out Matt Holliday for the second out, but a single to Yadier Molina brought another run in.
With runners on first and second, it looked like Kershaw had Mike Adams rung up to end the inning, but the pitch was called a ball, giving him a walk. Another single to Shane Robinson scored two more runs, giving the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.
The Cardinals' barrage continued in the fifth with five more runs. They got two singles and an RBI double putting them up 5-0, and ending Kershaw's night. The bullpen could not get the job done either, allowing four more runners to score, two of which were charged to Kershaw, giving him seven earned runs on the night.
It was one of the worst starts of Kershaw's career.
He gave up four hits in the third inning, but had not given up more than that in a whole game since September 21. He gave up seven earned runs, the most since July 24, 2012. He pitched just four innings, the least since September 2010, except for a day when he had the flu.
There is no way around it. Kershaw got beat. Now the Dodgers need to lock him up on a long-term contract, because he is the best pitcher in baseball, regardless of what happened on Friday.
So what about the Dodger bats? Kershaw had a horrible night, but it is not like they ever gave him a shot.
The Dodgers had no runs on two hits, with one extra-base hit. They were completely shut down on a night where Kershaw was totally lit up.
Reaching Game 6 of the NLCS is a notable feat for the Dodgers, considering it is the furthest they have gone in the postseason in the last 25 years. Everyone involved obviously wishes they could have moved on, but that is where their journey ends.
It was an amazing, roller-coaster season that comes to an end with an embarrassing 9-0 loss.
So the baseball season will continue without the Dodgers. The World Series begins on Wednesday and will feature the Cardinals against the winner of the ALCS between Detroit and Boston.