Dodgers 4, Nationals 3: NLCS Bound … Unreal

With all the other Divisional Series finished, the Dodgers and Nationals had the full attention of the rest of baseball. And with all that attention, the Dodgers rallied for a decisive crooked number in the seventh inning and made it stick through a ton of drama against the Nationals to get the win, 4-3. That obviously gave them the series win, 3-2, since this was the winner-take-all contest, and the Dodgers are now headed to the NLCS to face the Cubs.

I’m going to have the celebration stuff in another post, probably tomorrow or something, so wait for it.

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Since it was Game 5, the home fans were ready with the hostile environment.

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Rich Hill took the mound for the Dodgers and he honestly did quite well on short rest. Hill got a clean first despite being hit on the wrist on a comebacker to start the game off, but ran into trouble in the second, even if a lot of it wasn’t his fault.

Daniel Murphy started things by singling on the first pitch of the inning on a rather routine grounder. After Hill notched a strikeout, Murphy took second on a delayed steal of sorts when he tried to read a curve in the dirt, and Yasmani Grandal‘s throw failed to cut him down because it was off line. After a walk to Ryan Zimmerman, a single to right by Danny Espinosa would plate Murphy, but just barely, and any semblance of a decent, accurate throw by Josh Reddick would’ve gotten Murphy at home. That put the Nationals up on an early 1-0 lead, and Hill was fortunate to get out of the inning without any further damage.

In the third, Hill got two outs but got into a jam thanks to a single, a stolen base, and a fly ball advancing the runner to third. After an intentional walk to Satan, Joe Blanton was brought into the game, and Hill’s final line was: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 55 P. Blanton entering in the third set the tone for the all hands on deck theme of today, and he promptly escaped trouble (barely) by inducing a line out to center. In the fourth, Blanton got a solid 1-2-3 inning to continue his run of domination in the NLDS.

That set the table in the fifth for Julio Urias, making his postseason debut in Game 5 of the NLDS. No pressure, right? Urias came through for the Dodgers, pitching two scoreless innings, and even notching a sick pickoff to end the fifth…

…but he got help from a relay of Andrew Toles to Corey Seager to Yasmani Grandal, as well as the Nats third-base coach, to end any threat.

On the other side of things, Nationals starter Max Scherzer seemed to feed off the crowd, giving the fans six shutout innings on 98 pitches. Scherzer allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out seven batters, so he pitched like an ace should pitch.

Helped a bit that the strike zone for him was … generous.

That said, the Dodgers had their chance to knock him out and missed. In the fifth, Reddick started things with a single to right and Joc Pederson followed with a single of his own to right. Grandal, who had an absolutely brutal series in terms of stranding runners, struck out for the first out of the frame. Andrew Toles then got jammed on an inside fastball but muscled it over the head of Satan at second base for a single. Unfortunately, both runners had to freeze on the blooper because WBC was so close to catching it, and that left the Dodgers with the bases loaded. You know the routine by now for this NLDS with the bases loaded, right? Andre Ethier proceeded to strikeout for the second out, and then Chase Utley tried his best to come through by hitting a hard grounder up the middle, but it was right into the shift to end the threat.

Unfortunately for the Nats, Dusty Baker left Scherzer in for the seventh, and he proceeded to throw one pitch to Joc that was hit for a homer to tie the game, 1-1.

That started a revolving door of relievers for the Nats, but it ended with Grandal walking and Howie Kendrick singling, before Charlie Culberson tried to bunt but fouled out instead. The decision to bunt itself wasn’t incorrect by the numbers, but Culberson had to execute there.

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Fortunately, Carlos Ruiz immediately followed and came through with a single to left to drive in the go-ahead run and make it 2-1.

After Corey Seager flied out, it looked like the Dodgers might have to settle for one run, but Justin Turner wasn’t having any of that, tripling off the wall in center to score two runs for a 4-1 advantage.

So game over, right? Nah, nothing comes easy for this team. Grant Dayton was brought in, him being one of the three best relievers in the pen, and Dayton proceeded to walk the first batter on four pitches and then give up a two-run homer to Chris Heisey on an 0-2 to cut the deficit to one, 4-3. Clint Robinson then singled and Dayton’s night was done … with Dave Roberts going to closer Kenley Jansen early. Jansen eventually loaded the bases in the seventh, but escaped with the lead intact thanks to a pair of key strikeouts, including Anthony Rendon with the bases loaded to end it.

The Dodgers didn’t do anything else offensively on the night, but Jansen got a scoreless eighth after working around a walk, and then came out for the ninth inning as well. Jansen struck out Trea Turner for one out, but then issued back-to-back walks to Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. Jansen was on fumes by that point, having thrown a career-high 51 pitches, going 2.1 innings for the Dodgers.

But who was left for the highest leverage situation of the game, right? Was it going to be Pedro Baez? Josh Fields? Luis Avilan? Even Kenta Maeda, maybe? Nah, it was none other than Clayton Kershaw on one day rest after throwing 110 pitches in Game 4.

All he did in arguably the biggest moment of his career is get NL MVP candidate Murphy to pop out weakly to second for the second out, and then get Wilmer Difo swinging to end it.

I can’t express how happy I am for Clayton Kershaw.

LOOK AT THIS WIN EXPECTANCY CHART MY GOD

That doesn’t even capture the half of it either with the desperation of the Dodgers in this game, and the way basically everybody contributed to the win.

My god what a team effort.

Also, Dave Roberts deserved to be ripped for how he handled Game 4, but he certainly did his best to make up for it today in Game 5.

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Who pitches in the NLCS? I have no goddamn idea.

I think it’s Kenta Maeda against Jon Lester in Game 1, but uh, maybe not?

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You’re welcome, by the way.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times