LOS ANGELES -- The couches were noticeably missing from the center of the Los Angeles Dodgers' clubhouse late Wednesday night. They were removed in preparation for another champagne celebration, perhaps around the seventh inning, when a two-run lead was transferred from Walker Buehler to Clayton Kershaw.
What followed -- Kershaw allowing home runs to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto on back-to-back pitches in the eighth inning, Joe Kelly surrendering a grand slam to Howie Kendrick in the 10th and the Dodgers suffering a 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series -- was a dizzying turn of events that left a room full of players shell-shocked in its wake.
The Dodgers' 2019 season included a franchise-record 106 wins and an NL-best plus-274 run differential. But now -- suddenly, cruelly -- it is over, without a championship for a 31st consecutive year. L.A.'s baseball team is a dominant force that has captured seven consecutive division titles and is built for sustained winning, but continual postseason shortcomings provoke introspection. And the Dodgers have plenty to ask themselves as they pivot to what could be a fascinating offseason.
1. Will there be a change at manager?