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Friday, April 23, 2021

Clayton Kershaw’s postseason magic for the Dodgers falls apart

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“I don’t understand how this game can happen without a home run,” the umpire says.

“To us, it’s not about a hit or an out,” the manager says.

“But the result is the same,” the player says.

“How many home runs have we seen?” the umpire asks.

Fernando Rodney, a 40-year-old fireballer, claps a testy fist in a man’s face, an angry exchange of words that begins with Rodney telling the batter to slow down and ends with his demanding that the man be ejected. A pitch in the sixth inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and the Braves:

And a shot in the top of the third:

The lineups:

At the plate, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw was having a great night. With one out in the bottom of the second, with the bases loaded, Kershaw lined a ball into left field for a single — and his first hit of the postseason. For Kershaw and his team, that is the first sign of life.

Meanwhile, it seems the Braves — and some of their fans, who booed — may have finally seen a glimpse of the inevitability of the team’s end.

In the second, a run scored on Freddie Freeman’s single to center. Two pitches later, with the bases loaded, Jace Peterson and Nick Markakis lined singles — the latter on a 100-mph pitch that was hit twice, including a double play off the bat of Aledmys Diaz.

With one out in the third, three runs were on the board and it appeared the Braves had taken the lead — some 70 miles north, at the Dodgers’ Dodger Stadium.

But Kershaw popped up a two-strike pitch.

The fourth inning ensued without more runs. There were no home runs in the Dodgers’ four innings.

The seventh and eighth innings: home runs. The Dodgers scored two more in the seventh, courtesy of Yasiel Puig and Manny Machado. But after Machado’s epic 16-pitch at-bat in the eighth, Dodgers fans gave up waiting and filed out.

Meanwhile, the Braves had one more run in them, and that meant that the last two games of the series would have a decisive sixth game, featuring Clayton Kershaw — still trying to defend a perfect postseason record of 21-0 — and the Braves’ Sean Newcomb.

The Dodgers won 4-3 to go up 3-1 in the series. But home runs were not decisive this time.

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