What happened next, of course, was reminiscent of what happened in the seventh inning of his Game 1 ALDS start against the Dodgers. One hit, then another. Then a big one.
Next thing you know, the Cardinals are ahead. This time, it meant the Dodgers were finished.
Kershaw might have been fatigued, but those two playoff games were the continuation of a postseason trend. The lefty, so dominant in the regular season (2.48 ERA for his career), now has a 5.12 playoff ERA in 51 innings.
That’s not a huge sample size. And again, fatigue could be the explanation for his lack of success (particularly Tuesday).
But it’s also worth revisiting the notion of “clutch” as it pertains to sports. It’s too soon to label Kershaw as “not clutch,” but the more we watch sports the more we become convinced that there is such a thing as being “clutch.”
Quite simply, it’s the ability to shut out the distractions that come from the biggest moments in order to let the natural muscle memory take over the way it’s supposed to work.
Some athletes (and other people in all walks of life, of course) can do it better than others.