A 6-5 win by the Dodgers over the Nationals in Game 4 of the NLDS has propelled the Dodgers to yet another Game 5, but they’ll be hoping this one ends differently from last year. Just citing the score seems woefully insufficient for such a game, considering all the mess that went on, so be sure to read on for the happiness and then heartbreak and then happiness again.
Hell, take a look at the win expectancy chart.
Clayton Kershaw took the hill in the playoffs in short rest, so you know it was going to be a big deal no matter what. For his playoff career on short rest, which spans three starts, Kershaw had a 1.89 ERA.
Kershaw on short rest in playoffs has a 1.89 ERA and 4 BB/23 K, and it would be a 0.47 ERA if they had a bullpen they could trust in 2014.
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) October 11, 2016
It was a justifiable decision even if I personally wanted Julio Urias, and while people were getting heated about it on social media, I thought it was fine either way.
Things got off to a rough start immediately in the first for Kershaw, with a Trea Turner single and then a walk to Bryce Harper on a 3-2 count (that was actually strike three) to put runners on first and second. Jayson Werth then struck out, but Daniel Murphy hit a soft grounder that found a hole to right to plate a run for a 1-0 lead.
The Dodgers came right back in the bottom of the inning, with Justin Turner being hit with a pitch with two outs and Adrian Gonzalez hitting a two-run homer and finally getting started for a 2-1 lead.
Murphy then struck again against the Dodgers in the third, driving in Turner again with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2.
Fortunately, JT came right back with a single in the bottom of the inning to drive in Kershaw, who doubled down the left-field line earlier.
That lead was extended in the fifth by Pederson with an RBI double that drove in Reddick (single) to make it 5-2.
Pederson, a dummy, thought he hit it out and was caught styling.
Uh … at least it didn’t hurt any?
It was at this moment he knew … he fucked up. pic.twitter.com/DRahElCxqe
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) October 11, 2016
And he immediately made up for it with a diving catch anyway.
Kershaw was sailing along after the third and seemed like he would be done after six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk, striking out 11 batters. However, for whatever reason, Kershaw was left in the game for the seventh.
For me, that in itself was a bad idea because Kershaw’s command had already started to disintegrate in the previous inning and the Dodgers have the bullpen this year to get through three frames with a three-run lead. But one could justify it by saying that Kershaw had handled the bottom of the order and should go batter-to-batter or something similar.
But then Danny Espinosa led-off with a single. Kershaw was left in. Kershaw got Pedro Severino to strikeout, so he continued. Chris Heisey just missed barreling a fastball and flied out. It was the top of the order again, and Kershaw was still left in. Turner then grounded hard to Corey Seager, who failed to get the ball out of his glove and everybody was safe. Seager had to make that play, and Kershaw had to be done then, right? Wrong. Kershaw was left in to face Harper, who got down 1-2 and Kershaw seemed to punch him out, but umpire Tom Hallion, who fucked the Dodgers in every way possible all game, called a borderline pitch a ball.
Message on Dodgers white board:
"THE UMPS LOST."
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) October 12, 2016
Harper then ended up walking to load the bases, which knocked Kershaw out of the game. Even now, things are still okay as the Dodgers are up three and need just one out. So go to Joe Blanton for Werth, right? Or even Grant Dayton or just throw in Kenley Jansen for the most important sequence of the game?
No, Dave Roberts went to fucking Pedro Baez instead, who literally hit Werth with his first pitch to score a run. You almost can’t even make this shit up. That brought up Satan with the bases loaded to face Dayton … wait no, Roberts seriously brought in Luis Avilan, who promptly gave up a two-run single to tie the game, 5-5.
I've put it on the players for this entire series, but that sequence right there is 100% on Roberts.
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) October 12, 2016
Almost any other sequence of choices Roberts decided on would’ve been preferable to what he choose to do in that scenario. It was absolutely atrocious. I cannot believe that happened and that it screwed Kershaw again. So that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Kershaw finished with this line: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 11 K, 110 P.
I will never understand it.
Oh yeah, Blanton then entered and got a huge 1.2 innings of perfect work, escaping trouble in the seventh and then pitching a 1-2-3 eighth frame.
This allowed the Dodgers to mount a rally in the eighth, putting Andrew Toles on with a hit by pitch and Andre Ethier on with a single the other way. And then Chase Utley delivered the key blow with an RBI single past Satan to put the Dodgers up 6-5.
Kenley then entered for the ninth and struck out two batters, eventually setting the side down in order after Utley made this glove-flip play to end it.
Fight another day.
This sets up a decisive Game 5 back in D.C. at 2:00 PM HST/5:00 PM PST/8:00 PM EST on Fox Sports 1. And while nothing has been announced officially, Rich Hill says it’ll be him to start and go against Max Scherzer.
Should be a ton of fun … maybe.