LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clayton Kershaw couldn’t rescue the Dodgers from the brink of World Series elimination, and now the pitcher regarded as the best of his generation might be on his way out of Los Angeles.
Down 3-1 to the Boston Red Sox, the Dodgers turned to their three-time NL Cy Young Award winner to deliver a victory and force the best-of-seven Series back to Boston.
Instead, it was another postseason shellacking for Kershaw.
The left-hander gave up three home runs, including a two-run shot by Steve Pearce in the first inning, and the Dodgers lost 5-1 on Sunday night.
“It just hurts worse when you make it all the way and get second place,” Kershaw said quietly.
The Dodgers glumly watched the opposition celebrate a World Series championship on their field for the second straight year. Last October, it was Houston partying at Chavez Ravine after winning Game 7 by the same 5-1 score.
This time, the Dodgers only lasted five games.
“It might not be a personnel thing,” Kershaw said of his team’s failures. “It might just be a play better thing.”
Manager Dave Roberts visibly exhaled. Rookie Walker Buehler stared at the Red Sox hugging near the mound.
“This one hurts for all of us,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers managed just one baserunner — via walk — after the third inning. They were held to three hits.
Kershaw gave up four runs and seven hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked none. Kershaw has a 6.06 ERA in six career postseason starts with his team facing elimination, the worst among any starter with four such appearances — Pedro Martinez is next on the list at 5.92.
After falling out of contention to start the season, the Dodgers beat Colorado in the NL tiebreaker for a record sixth straight division title and got by Milwaukee in seven games to earn their second consecutive NL pennant.
But they couldn’t get it done when it counted most. It’s been 30 years since the storied franchise won the last of its six titles.
“Ran up against a very good ballclub,” Roberts said, “and just a little bit too much for us.”
Kershaw can opt out of the last two years and $65 million of his contract now that the World Series is over. Dodgers ownership has made it clear they’d like to keep their 30-year-old ace. He has never played anywhere else during his big-league career.
“I’ve got three days now to think about all that stuff, and so it will be an eventful three days for me,” Kershaw said. “I haven’t made the decision yet. We have three days to talk, between us and the Dodgers, see what happens.”
Roberts addressed his team after the game, and singled out Kershaw, who has been the face of the franchise for years.
“I did mention Clayton by name as far as his legacy with the Dodgers, and what’s he done for the organization, the fan base,” Roberts said. “Wearing this jersey, Clayton exemplifies what it is to be a Dodger and to be a man of character.”
Fellow left-hander Rich Hill credited Kershaw for being what he called “the heart and soul of this organization.”
“Clayton is the Dodgers,” he said. “I just hope they do the right thing.”
Manny Machado could be gone, too, after a short stay in Los Angeles. He was hitless in four at-bats Sunday, with three strikeouts, including one to end the game.
Acquired before the July trade deadline, Machado showed excellent defense at shortstop, but his lack of hustle and incendiary antics were even more notable. Injured Corey Seager will be back in the hole next year.
Roberts hasn’t received a contract extension, but he said afterward, “I expect to be managing the Dodgers.”
A year after leading the majors in victories, the Dodgers were on a whipsaw ride. They often fell behind and had to rally. Many times it worked. Other times not.
“I expect us to be back here next year,” Roberts said.
Maybe not everyone, though.
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