The Dodgers are one win away from being crowned World Series champions.
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the World Series contenders.
Less than just two weeks ago, they were on the brink of elimination at the hands of the Braves. But after a ferocious 3-1 comeback against Atlanta and jumping ahead of the Rays in the World Series 3-2, the Dodgers are in position to win a World Series — something they have failed to accomplish since 1988.
At last, the Commissioner’s Trophy will be in attendance on Tuesday night for the Dodgers when they face off against the Rays in Game 6.
Third Times the Charm
After failing to capitalize on their postseason runs to the World Series in both 2017 and 2018, the Dodgers are one win away from glory.
The Dodgers run to the World Series is not one that has been improbable. Going into the season they were one of the favorites. But the Dodgers have paved their way into and through the World Series in record-breaking fashion.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner hit a first 1st inning home run in Game 4 that set the Dodgers franchise record for career postseason home runs with 12.
— MLB (@MLB) October 25, 2020
The homerun also crowned him the first player in World Series history to homer in the first inning of consecutive games. But it’s not just the bats that have kept the Dodgers cooking.
A crucial piece of Los Angeles’ postseason run has been Dodgers ace, Clayton Kershaw. He has pitched to a 4-1 record with a 2.93 ERA in five starts this postseason.
But despite his 2020 playoff success, Kershaw’s struggles in the postseason have been well-documented.
Before his Game 5 start, in his postseason career, he was 12-12 with a 4.22 ERA. Since the wild card was introduced in 1995, Kershaw had the fifth-worst postseason ERA among pitchers with at least 70 innings.
And going into Game 5, Clayton Kershaw had been in this exact position before. He was in his home state of Texas, the 2017 World Series was level at 2-2. After a dominant outing in Game 1, he was ready to throw in Game 5. After a franchise legacy of playoff failure, the pressure was on Kershaw.
In this situation against the Astros just three years back, even with what we know now of the Astros infamous 2017 sign-stealing, Kershaw turned in the worst start of his playoff career, allowing six runs en route to a Game 5 Dodgers loss.
But on Sunday, Kershaw defied his own odds, allowing just 2 runs on 5 hits across 5.2 innings in a Dodgers 4-2 victory.
And for good measure, Kershaw’s six strikeouts made him the MLB career leader in postseason strikeouts.
His Game 5 performance silenced the doubters. He put to rest any uncertainty of if Clayton Kershaw was capable of attaining postseason excellence.
All of the emotions for Clayton Kershaw pic.twitter.com/0go5n435ei
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 26, 2020
Even with Kershaw not slated to start again this postseason with the Dodgers throwing out Tony Gonsolin in Game 6 and tentatively Walker Buehler for Game 7, he said he’ll be ready to throw at a moment’s notice.
Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said even with being one win away, nothing will change their approach. They know this Rays team isn’t going to throw in the towel with an opportunity to force a Game 7.