Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Converted First Save Since Kenley Jansen Was His Catcher
Dodgers News: Clayton Kershaw Converted First Save Since Kenley Jansen Was His Catcher
Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers won a fourth straight National League West title by overcoming significant odds and marching to the beat of their own drum. So it was fitting their victory over the Washington Nationals in winner-take-all Game 5 of the NL Division Series came in unprecedented fashion.

It ended with Clayton Kershaw converting a save opportunity.

After Rich Hill managed to pitch just 2.2 innings on short rest, Joe Blanton answered the bell to give the Dodgers 1.1 scoreless frames. Julio Urias, becoming the youngest pitcher in Dodgers franchise history to appear in a postseason game, went two shutout innings.

Grant Dayton ran into trouble in the seventh inning, and was replaced by Kenley Jansen with one out. He tossed a career high 51 pitches and had four strikeouts over 2.1 innings.

With the Dodgers clinging to a 4-3 lead in the ninth, Jansen, visibly with nothing left to give, walked Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth with one out. In came Kershaw to face Daniel Murphy.

The Nationals second baseman had again been a thorn in the Dodgers’ side. Murphy got jammed and popped out to Charlie Culberson. Pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo was overmatched and struck out on a curveball that bounced in the dirt.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said his ace was “absolutely not” available in the elimination game. Approached by Kershaw during the seventh inning, Roberts was willing to back from that stance. Kershaw began warming up during the top of the ninth.

The save was the first of Kershaw’s Major League career, and second overall. His first came in 2006 with the Rookie level Dodgers of the Gulf Coast League. Kershaw’s catcher in that game was none other than Kenley Jansen.

Box score of that now-monumental game is provided by Aaron Goldsmith:

The Dodgers now face the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 NL Championship Series, with Game 1 set for 5:08 p.m. PT on Saturday.