NLDS Series Washington Nationals 3 Los Angeles Dodgers 2
Nationals advance to their first NLCS series since their relocation!
With the odds of the series and previous playoff blunders in the past haunting over the team, the Nationals seemed like they were living in Groundhog Day, but that day finally ended.
What a series it was. With some excellent pitching, absolutely clutch hitting and a little bit of good fortune, the Nationals upset the 106 win LA Dodgers in the NLDS to advance without a certain Bryce Harper in the lineup, who left the team via free agency. It went to the wire in extra innings in a deciding Game 5 in LA, but the Nationals have finally done it, they have advanced to the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. Let’s take a deep dive into the series.
Game 1: Dodgers 6 Nationals 0
The Dodgers came out swinging in the first game of the series jumping all over the Nationals bullpen in this one. Corbin was given the start in Game 1 for the Nationals and the Dodgers countered with right-hander Walker Buehler. Both pitchers were solid with Corbin going six innings with an ERA and striking out nine, while Buehler was slightly better going six innings with eight punchouts without giving up a run. The game was blown open in the seventh and eighth as the dangerous Dodgers lineup terrorized the Nationals bullpen. Max Muncy led the way going 2-3 and knocking in three runs as well as drawing a walk. The Dodgers bullpen shut down the Nationals and got the victory in LA.
Game 2: Dodgers 2 Nationals 4
This was almost a must win for the Nationals as they did not want to be down 2-0 to the Dodgers heading back home where it has not been kind to them in the past. On the hill for the Dodgers was Clayton Kershaw and the Nationals matched with Stephen Strasburg. Both pitchers once again went six innings each with Kershaw finishing with three ER and striking out four, while Strasburg was lights out giving up an ER and striking out ten. The Nationals bullpen shut it down after Strasburg left with Scherzer making a relief appearance in the eighth. In the end, the Nationals got some timely hitting with Rendon leading the way going 2-4 with an RBI and a walk. The Nationals head back into D.C. with the series tied 1-1.
Game 3: Dodgers 10 Nationals 4
This game was close until the sixth inning when Corbin came in and relief and blew the entire game open. The starting pitchers were Ryu for the Dodgers and Sanchez for the Nationals as they decided to push Scherzer back to Game 4. The game started off with a solo shot from Soto until Muncy tied it in the fifth with a solo shot of his own. Then Corbin came in and veteran catcher became the difference in the game. Martin finished the game 2-4 with four RBI and one walk. The Dodgers were one win away from advancing to another NLCS.
Game 4: Dodgers 1 Nationals 6
The Nationals however would not go out without a fight. Nats manager Martinez elected to start Scherzer in Game 4 and what a great decision it was. It wasn’t a good start for Scherzer as Justin Turner went yard in the first inning. After that, he was lights out going seven innings striking out seven, while Rich Hill started with the Dodgers but struggled with demand early which forced Dave Robertson to dig into the bullpen and it cost them. With two on in the fifth, Nationals legend Ryan Zimmerman was up to bat and he hit a three-run shot that put the game out of reach and the Nationals bullpen took it from there. The Nationals were heading back to LA with the series tied 2-2 in a winner take all Game 5.
Game 5: Dodgers 3 Nationals 7
In a do-or-die Game 5, it was going to come down to clutch hitting and great pitching and we got a little of both. Strasburg against Buelher to advance to the NLCS. Strasburg wasn’t on his A-game as he went six innings giving up three ER and striking out seven, while Buelher was electric going 6 ⅔ innings giving up one ER and racking up seven strikeouts as well. It was 3-0 Dodgers heading into the sixth inning on home runs from Muncy and Hérnandez and Soto got the Nationals on the board in the sixth with a single. Instead of using his bullpen in the eighth inning, Dave Roberts decided to keep Kershaw out as he got the final out in the seventh. This is where the Dodgers fans start to sweat. Another massive managing mistake for Roberts as Kershaw gives up back-to-back home runs on back-to-back pitches to Soto and Rendon to tie the game 3-3 in the eighth. The picture of Kershaw sitting alone in the dugout will be remembered for years to come. Then in the 10th inning where Joe Kelly had already worked the ninth, he had the bases loaded in the tenth and the season ended for the Dodgers in heartbreaking fashion as Howie Kendrick homered for the grand slam to put the Nationals up 7-3. They closed it out and the Nationals advance to their first NLCS since their relocation to Washington!
The Nationals will face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS in what should be a highly entertaining series. My prediction: I believe the Nationals win in six games and advance to the World Series.