Clayton Kershaw ripped a pair of towels off his left arm and hopped off the bench. He scooped up his glove and tucked his sweat-matted hair behind his ear. He spoke to no one as he bounded up the stairs. A roar from the Dodger Stadium faithful greeted Kershaw as he reached a personal milestone at 9:01 p.m. on Friday. For the first time in a playoff career that stretched back to 2008, Kershaw was about to take a start into the ninth inning.
It was all a ruse, a ploy designed to deplete the deficient roster of the Atlanta Braves in a 3-0 victory in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.
The crowd jeered when manager Dave Roberts followed Kershaw out of the dugout. Moments after Braves catcher Tyler Flowers was announced as a pinch-hitter, Roberts pounced. He called upon Kenley Jansen, forcing Atlanta to burn another player to bat in Flowers’ place. The fans showered Kershaw with cheers. Roberts heard only boos when he returned to the dugout.