ARLINGTON, Texas – As much as Clayton Kershaw has dominated hitters throughout a glittering career, he has not silenced those who cite his lack of baseball's ultimate accomplishment.
With a gritty performance, plus one particular delivery home that will long be remembered, he hushed the skeptics and moved the Los Angeles Dodgers within a victory of their first World Series title since 1988.
“He’s a phenomenal pitcher on the biggest stage,” reliever Blake Treinen said after Kershaw beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the second time in six days, a 4-2 win Sunday night that gave the Dodgers a 3-2 Series lead. “I think a lot of credit goes to what he’s been able to do in this World Series for us.”
Los Angeles was clinging to a one-run lead with runners at the corners and two outs in the fourth inning, and Kevin Kiermaier at the plate.
The great left-hander had raised both hands over his head in his instantly recognizable stretch position when he heard first baseman Max Muncy scream: “Step off! Step off! Step off!”
“Instinctually, I kind of did it,” Kershaw recalled.
He coolly and quickly backed off the rubber and calmly threw to catcher Austin Barnes, who grabbed the ball and got his mitt down on Manuel Margot’s outstretched hand while the runner’s helmet tumbled off and cut his own lip.