Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Refutes Clayton Kershaw Postseason Narrative

The Los Angeles Dodgers gained some momentum with a blowout win in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, but that all came crashing down with a 10-2 loss Thursday to fall down 3-1 against the Atlanta Braves.

After being scratched from his Game 2 start due to back spasms, Clayton Kershaw got the start in Game 4, looking to improve to 3-0 this postseason. Unfortunately, the outing didn’t go his way and he was a tough-luck loser this time around.

Kershaw allowed just one run on a homer by Marcell Ozuna and the game was tied as he navigated through five successful innings. Things went south in the sixth though as a chopper of an infield hit by Ronald Acuña Jr. began the inning.

Compounding the leadoff man reaching was Kiké Hernandez’s attempt at a barehanded play resulted in a throwing error that put Acuña on second base. Then came a ground ball double by Freddie Freeman before another double to Ozuna that forced Kershaw to be removed in favor of Brusdar Graterol.

Graterol couldn’t put out the fire, allowing three hits and three runs while only recording one out, and then Victor Gonzalez, Dylan Floro and Jake McGee all struggled as well to finish out the night.

“The inning prior was a clean inning, he punched the last guy. You induce weak contact, tough play and it gets away from the first baseman. There’s another ground ball by the first baseman, we had Freeman way over in the gap and it turned a single into a double,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained of initially sticking with Kershaw.

“I thought Clayton was throwing the baseball really well and there was no reason (to remove him). I felt really good about it.”

This series has been all about momentum for both teams, and the Braves stole it right back in that sixth inning when they turned a tied game into a 7-1 advantage.

“I just think that inning, the Albies ball, the Swanson ball, the Riley ball, they were just finding holes. It’s baseball. We just couldn’t find a way to limit damage,” Roberts added.

Many have blamed Kershaw for the loss and added it to his list of postseason failures, but Roberts was pleased with what his starter was able to give the team and doesn’t believe the narrative to be true.

“He came out, five innings, one run and what happened right there in that sixth inning. He gave us a chance to win the baseball game,” Roberts said. “We couldn’t put any runs up early or hold a lead after the Eddie home run. That narrative couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Roberts is also taking his fair share of criticism as well for not taking Kershaw out earlier even though Graterol struggled when he came in as well.

Graterol was getting loose as soon as that sixth inning started but Roberts didn’t have a problem with the pitches Kershaw was making that resulted in some softer contact.

“It was just more seeing how the inning would unfold and just having him ready. Just having him tossing, getting ready to see how the inning plays out. I’m not going to take Clayton out after a weak ground ball and another ground ball off the bat of Freeman,” Roberts explained.

“He had a 3-2 breaking ball that Ozuna — it wasn’t hit very hard, it just found the right spot in the outfield. It turned into a double, so it was a good piece of hitting. At that point in time I wanted to go to Graterol, but I felt really good with Clayton.”

Roberts reiterated that he felt comfortable leaving Kershaw in to face Ozuna for a third time despite the hard contact in prior at-bats he had.

“I thought about it, but I thought about the inning prior, where he was at, the stress in prior innings, I felt good with Clayton right there,” Roberts said. “I really did. He gave up two ground balls prior and I just don’t feel the need to go to the ‘pen right there.”

Kershaw comments on sixth inning

When discussing that sixth inning, Kershaw put the onus on himself to keep Acuña off the basepaths and to make better pitches to Freeman to avoid disaster.

“It would’ve been nice to get Acuña out. He’s pretty quick and it’s just part of playing on turf; he chopped that one up. Freddie, I had two strikes on him and probably just went one too many pitches inside,” he said.

“He hit it good, but it was on the ground. Still, with two strikes I’ve got to make a better pitch. It’s a tough way to go, for sure.”

The Dodgers now must win three straight games to avoid their season coming to an end, which certainly isn’t impossible. Their offense will have to give the pitching staff some run support though, which they were unable to do for Kershaw in Game 4.

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