Clayton Kershaw, the three-time Cy Young Award-winner who could never quite get over the hump in the post-season is a World Series champion at last.
Kershaw recorded two wins in the Los Angeles Dodgers' six-game triumph over the Tampa Bay Rays, gutting out a game-five victory that set the stage for the title-clinching 3-1 triumph on Tuesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.
"To actually have that feeling that you did it, and that your mission is complete, it's surreal, it really is," said Kershaw, who was part of the Dodgers teams that lost in the 2017 and 2018 World Series.
Last year the Dodgers were coming off a 106-win regular-season campaign but didn't even make it out of the division series, Kershaw adding to his record of playoff disappointments with a game-five loss to the eventual champion Washington Nationals.
Now, however, Kershaw has filled the glaring void in his Hall of Fame resume.
"It's just a special feeling," Kershaw said. "World Series man -- they can't take that away.
"You work so hard for it. So when you lose, it hurts. You feel like you've let down a group of guys that you work so hard with all the time. That's really the biggest thing. That group of guys in the clubhouse.
"Hearing that they're proud of you, and happy for you, there's no higher compliment."
The 32-year-old left-hander was outstanding in the Dodgers' game-one victory over the Rays, giving up two hits -- including one home run -- with eight strikeouts and one walk in six innings. He threw 53 of his 78 pitches for strikes.
It was a different story in game five, when Kershaw struggled with his slider but managed to give up just two runs in the 13th post-season win of his career.
That game also included a heads-up throw by Kershaw to catch Tampa Bay's Manuel Margot in an attempt to steal home.
"I feel pretty good!" Kershaw said as he and teammates celebrated at Globe Life Field, where Dodgers fans were a raucously vocal majority among the 11,437 in attendance. "You work so hard. I've been to the post-season and lost every single year.
"And now to look up ... I wish it was Dodger Stadium, but to look up it feels like it now to see how happy they are," Kershaw said. "They've been waiting a long time too. I'm so happy to be a part of it, to be part of this team. It's a special group of guys it really is.
"We won a World Series," he said. "I can't believe it."