Nationals 5, Dodgers 2: Rich Hill implodes, as does offense

The Dodgers dropped Game 2 of the National League Division Series to the Nationals 5-2 on Sunday afternoon.

Things looked promising early as Corey Seager, for the second consecutive game, hit a solo home run in the first inning (107 MPH, 395 feet, 23 degree launch angle) on a 3-0 pitch. This was after Nats’ starter Tanner Roark threw a fastball over his head on the first pitch of the at-bat.

In the bottom of the first, Rich Hill made his Dodger postseason debut known by striking out the side on 15 pitches. He looked really good in doing so as he located the fastball well and had the curveball working.

In the second inning, the Dodgers loaded the bases and couldn’t scrape across a run. This would unfortunately be a theme for the afternoon. In the bottom half, Hill got in a bit of trouble. He loaded the bases with one out for Nats’ catcher Jose Lobaton. On the first pitch, he tapped one back to Hill for 1-2-3 inning-ending double play. Definitely huge at the time.

The Dodgers again loaded the bases in the third and failed to score. Thankfully, before that, Justin Turner scored on a Josh Reddick single.

He had some help from Lobaton, who couldn’t keep the ball in his glove on great throw by Bryce Harper. In all honesty, Turner shouldn’t have been sent on the play. Fortunately, it worked out of the Dodgers.

Yasmani Grandal would close the inning, and the threat, with an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded. That one really hurt. It was not a banner day for him (0-for-3, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 GIDP) overall.

In the bottom of the third, Hill allowed a 1-out single to Trea Turner in the third before striking out Harper in a nice battle.

He then got Jayson Werth looking on a curveball — all while keeping the speedy Turner at first base. It was a strong inning for Hill — the last strong one he would have on the day.

The Dodgers went quietly in the fourth inning, aside from a Hill bunt single, which, ha. In the bottom half, the Nationals got on the board in a big way. Daniel Murphy walked and with two outs, Danny Espinosa was then hit by Hill … for the second time in the game. Given his struggles th,at’s inexcusable in and of itself, but what followed was also unacceptable. Hill hung a 1-1 curveball and Lobaton hit it into the Dodger bullpen for a 3-run home run.

Want to feel better?

Oh.

Sure, why not.

The Nationals would add two more runs later on RBI singles by — you guessed it — Murphy in the fifth and seventh innings.

Everyone but Joe Blanton and Kenley Jansen saw action today out of the Dodgers bullpen. They combined for 3 2/3 innings of 1-run ball (seven strikeouts in those innings), with Grant Dayton surrendering the only run.

But this loss is pinned squarely on Hill’s inability to command his pitches after the third inning, hitting a guy like Espinosa … twice and the offense failing to come up with any semblance of a big hit (or even a run-scoring fly ball) with the bases loaded. The offense finished 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 11 players in all on base.

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The series is tied, 1-1, and continues tomorrow in Los Angeles. Kenta Maeda will take the mound against Gio Gonzalez. First pitch for Game 3 is scheduled for 10:08 HST/1:08 PST/4:08 EST, and expect an entirely different lineup than the two that were seen in Washington.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.