The Washington Nationals defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-3, in 10 innings in Game 5 of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night. Washington advances to the NL Championship Series to face the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Dodgers’ three runs came in the first two innings. Joc Pederson hit a double through the outfield fence and Max Muncy followed up with a two-run home run in the opening frame. Enrique Hernandez tacked on another run with a solo shot in the second inning.
It wasn’t until the sixth inning until the Nationals started to get going, as Juan Soto‘s RBI single to score Anthony Rendon trimmed the deficit to 3-1. Once Walker Buehler was pulled for Clayton Kershaw, Rendon and Soto continued to contribute with back-to-back home runs (on consecutive pitches) in the eighth inning. Then, Howie Kendrick crushed a go-ahead grand slam to dead center field, off Joe Kelly in the 10th inning. Nats closer Sean Doolitte had a shutdown 1-2-3 inning to secure the win.
The wild-card Nationals will head to the NLCS for the first time since the franchise moved to Washington. With the elimination of the top-seeded and two-time defending NL champion Dodgers, there are only two 100-win teams left in this postseason in the New York Yankees and Houston Astros. The Dodgers, meanwhile, remain without a World Series title since 1988.
For more on this game, here are our big takeaways.
Why the Nationals won
This team is resilient, and that’s an enormous reason why they won this series.
Washington overcame a 19-31 start and bullpen issues to finish the 2019 regular season 93-69 and clinch a spot in the NL Wild Card Game. In that game, they fought to come back and win late (they were four outs away from elimination) in that game too.
The @Nationals trailed by 3 runs in the NL Wild Card Game and came back to win, and they did the same thing tonight against the Dodgers.
They are the first team in MLB history to come back from 3+ runs down when facing elimination twice in a single postseason.#STAYINTHEFIGHT7089:45 PM – Oct 9, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy252 people are talking about this
Nats starter Stephen Strasburg wasn’t at his best at the start of the game, giving up the first home run(s) of his postseason career. He settled down to put together a quality start, and then Tanner Rainey and Patrick Corbin kept them in the game before two Kershaw pitches changed the entire complexion of the game, and then one swing in extras stunned the folks at Chavez Ravine.
Why the Dodgers lost
To be frank, the Dodgers were six outs from winning this game until three-time Cy Young winner Kershaw blew a 3-1 lead in the eighth. That blown lead paved the way for Kendrick’s grand slam in extras. It was the dagger before the dagger.
After Kershaw, things really went south when Joe Kelly couldn’t record an out in the 10th, resulting in the grand slam. Manager Dave Roberts really mismanaged the bullpen in the loss, and it only became more obvious when we witnessed the solid performances from relief pitchers Kenta Maeda and Kenley Jansen.
The Dodgers were six outs away from securing their spot in the NLCS … until they weren’t any more, thanks to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto.