World Series notes: Kershaw could have title-clinching shot

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Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw watch batting practice before Game 2 of the baseball World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

ARLINGTON, Texas – Clayton Kershaw could take the mound Sunday night with a chance to close out the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988.

“We’ve got to get the job done tonight,” he said before Game 4 on Saturday night. “I haven’t let myself think that far yet. But I know either way, I’m pitching tomorrow and hopefully it’s 3-1, for sure.”

The 32-year-old left-hander from nearby Dallas has spent all 13 of his big league seasons with Los Angeles. He is an eight-time All-Star, three-time NL Cy Young Award winner and the 2014 NL MVP.

“When you’ve been working so long and so hard for one goal and it’s getting closer and closer with each win, it’s harder not to think about the end game and what that might be like,” he said. “But you just have to. ... So for me at least, it’s just a constant focus on the next day, the next game, the next pitch. And you just have to remind yourself, you just have to, really discipline yourself to do it.”

Kershaw beat Houston in the 2017 Series opener, allowing one run and three hits in seven innings against Houston, but failed to hold a 4-0 lead in the fourth of Game 5, a game the Astros won 13-12 in 10 innings. Kershaw came back on two days’ rest to enter Game 7 in the third with Houston leading 5-0 and pitched four shutout innings in a 5-1 loss. The Astros' sign-stealing scam was later revealed.

Kershaw lost the opener and Game 5 finale in 2018 against Boston, allowing nine runs in 11 innings.

In Game 1 this week, Kershaw allowing one run and two hits in six innings. The Rays scored on Kevin Kiermaier’s fifth-inning homer.

“You definitely have to take into consideration what you’ve done against these guys in the past, in Game 1,” he said. “Any time that hitters see you, they get a little bit more of an advantage. ... You might have to change a few things up but for the most part, just continue to pitch the way that you pitch.”