Dodgers' Kershaw has another chance to write his signature moment

Watch as Tampa Bay infielder Brandon Lowe joins Hazel Mae to react to the Rays wild walk-off Game 4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Well how do you top that?

Game 4 of the World Series was an instant classic, with the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers exchanging blows all night before a bizarre final sequence resulted in a walk-off win for the Rays.

What was looking like a 3-1 Dodgers series lead is all of sudden a 2-2 best-of-three.

The pressure is surely now on Los Angeles, which has a long history of recent playoff frustration. The plucky Rays have all the momentum, but the Dodgers have the right man on the mound to both change the narrative for a Los Angeles squad that is synonymous with disappointment, and exorcise more of his personal playoff demons.

Here are the top storylines to follow heading into Game 5, which begins at 8:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet and SN Now.

Kershaw's golden opportunity

Coming off a gut-wrenching loss, there's no person you'd rather see toe the rubber the following day than your iconic franchise ace. It's not hyperbole to say Clayton Kershaw is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and he's already gone a long way in shedding his "playoff choker" label in 2020. The left-hander has started four games this October and pitched to a 2.88 ERA, which is significantly lower than his career 4.22 playoff mark.

This post-season differs from previous ones in a number of ways. The shortened regular season meant Kershaw didn't have to log as many innings in the lead-up to the playoffs. And with Walker Buehler established as a fellow staff ace — plus the Dodgers' deeper pitching staff on the whole — Dave Roberts hasn't had to lean so heavily on Kershaw. In years prior, the Dallas native was frequently deployed on short rest and even thrust into regular action out of the bullpen. That hasn't been the case so far and would likely only be a consideration should this World Series go seven games.

Kershaw started Game 1 of this series and stymied the Rays, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out eight over six innings. Another performance like that to give his team a 3-2 lead could go down as the signature moment of the 32-year-old's career and help soften the blow of past failures for both himself and the team at large.

Stars are shining as bright as ever

World Series titles are often determined by the unlikeliest of heroes. Think Steve Pearce of the Boston Red Sox in 2018, who was a platoon bat acquired at the trade deadline that went on to slug three home runs in the Fall Classic. Brett Phillips provided one of those fairytale moments in Saturday's Game 4, and there's a chance we see another over the next few days.

But to this point, this World Series has been all about some of baseball's brightest stars rising to the moment and leaving their mark.

When he's not providing fireworks with the bat, Mookie Betts has been dazzling with the glove and on the bases. Corey Seager is hitting a ridiculous .500 with a 1.560 OPS through the first four games of the series. Justin Turner is hot on his heels at .444 and 1.474, respectively.

For the Rays, Randy Arozarena has rightfully dominated the headlines, slugging a record-breaking nine home runs over this playoff run. Now Brandon Lowe, who was Tampa's best player all year, has joined in on the fun. Lowe slashed .115/.193/.173 in the 14 games prior to the World Series, but has busted out of his slump and slugged three home runs against the Dodgers.

Sure, it's always fun to watch bench guys steal a game or two with a clutch performance, but when baseball's best players are rising to the occasion like they are right now, there's nothing to do but sit back, drop your jaw and enjoy the show.

Is the stable losing steam?

Rays manager Kevin Cash has asked a lot of his bullpen in these playoffs, specifically the trio of Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks and Diego Castillo. Aside from Arozarena's heroics, Tampa's relief corps is the biggest reason why the Rays are even playing for a championship.

Perhaps all the wear and tear is starting to catch up with "the stable." The Dodgers had no trouble with the Rays' relievers in Game 4 and tallied three runs off Anderson, Fairbanks and Castillo in their combined 3 1/3 innings of work. Even the most electric of arms loses effectiveness as the workload increases, the stress skyrockets and the opposition gets more and more comfortable with the arsenal and delivery.

Luckily for Cash there is another off-day on Monday, which will give his stable of guys who throw 98 a chance to reset. The Rays will need their bullpen to recapture its form to win this series.

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