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Five takeaways from Dodgers' 3-2 loss to Cardinals in Game 4

Five takeaways from Dodgers' 3-2 loss to Cardinals in Game 4
Yasiel Puig walks off the field on Oct. 7 after the Dodgers' 3-2 loss to the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLDS in St. Louis. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The final takeaways. No more looks at pitching matchups. No more keys to the next game. No more next game.

Eulogies are never fun, but here are five takeaways to take from the Dodgers' season-ending 3-2 loss to the Cardinals in Game 4 of their division series:

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Clayton Kershaw will be unfairly labeled a player who can't win the big one

This is absurd, of course, but it will be a common observation from many. His last three playoff games were all memorable losses. His overall postseason record is 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA.

So those numbers are there and aren't going away, at least until he's back in the postseason.

Pitching on one less day of rest, Kershaw had held the Cardinals scoreless on one hit through six innings. In the sixth, he struck out the side.

But with horrid middle relief in the bullpen, Manager Don Mattingly sent him back out in the seventh despite having thrown 94 pitches. And Mattingly had no choice, really.

Kershaw gave up a three-run homer to Matt Adams, and that was the game.

Still, Matt Holliday's leadoff infield single was smothered by a diving Dee Gordon at second, but he just couldn't cleanly come up with the ball. Then Jhonny Peralta hit a line drive that went off the tip of Hanley Ramirez' glove. Ramirez did nothing wrong, but most shortstops get to the ball.

Then came the hanging curve to Adams, and Kershaw had failed in the postseason again.

It was actually a brilliant, gutsy performance by Kershaw that got away from him in the seventh, again. He remains baseball's best pitcher and watching his 21-3 season was pure pleasure. You still wouldn't bet against him in any postseason game next year.

The bullpen may be even worse than feared

I mean, if possible. Outside of closer Kenley Jansen, there was no one Mattingly had faith in down there.

That apparently includes Dan Haren, thrust into a bullpen role when Kershaw started Game 4 but who remained on his seat when Kershaw went out to start the seventh.

The bullpen was filled with too many kids who did not deserve to be there and too many tired-looking veterans. Brandon League, vilified by many, was actually the lone reliable reliever in the postseason.

Major changes figure to come in this department during the off-season.

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But will the off-season changes begin at the top?

General Manager Ned Colletti put that bullpen together, and he's the one likely to receive most criticism for it.

The Dodgers were an incomplete $240-million team and it showed in the division series. Is his job safe? Hard to know, but when Guggenheim Baseball took over, it inherited Colletti and elected to keep him. Its leaders may figure he's had his chance.

Mattingly received a three-year extension prior to the start of the season, so he appears safe. But if Colletti goes, it's not impossible the front office would not want a complete makeover.

Pretty sure Guggenheim wants more than a team that can just win its division.

Did Andre Ethier forget how to slide?

He hadn't been seen much action the last month, having officially lost his spot in the outfield rotation.

He got a rare chance to start Tuesday for the struggling Yasiel Puig, and although he did not get a hit, he did walk twice.

But it was getting picked off third base that stung. Ethier started to break for third when a pitch bounced away from St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina. But Molina recovered and fired to third. If Ethier slides, he probably beats the Matt Carpenter tag.

He went in standing up, was tagged on the chest and, after a video review, was ruled out.

There will be no historic Dodgers-Giants meeting in the NLCS

Come on, how fun would that have been? I was really looking forward to it. It would have been the first time these two historic rivals had met in the postseason.

It could have been incredibly painful if the Dodgers lost to the Giants, and the orange and black went on to win the World Series. Still, a gamble worth taking. Plus, the Dodgers seem to have the Giants' number at the end of the season.

It would have been an absolute blast. Alas, only the Giants did their part.

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