The Washington Nationals needed to stay in the fight and wait for their moments — and they did and finally got over the proverbial hump to advance past the NLDS. This NLDS squad capitalized on future Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw who entered as a reliever, and the Nats came from behind and attacked him with Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto crushed back-to-back home runs off of him to tie the game and send Kershaw to the showers. The Nats kept it tied until the 10th inning when they loaded the bases off of reliever Joe Kelly and Howie Kendrick crushed a grand slam to dead-center through the marine layer air in Dodgers Stadium for the 7-3 winner. Baseball is a game of redemption, and Howie erased all of his three errors in the series, a crushing doubleplay and 3 strikeouts with the greatest home run in Nats history. The Nationals slayed the 106 win Dodgers to advance to their first NLCS after most of the national media gave the Nats no chance.
“You couldn’t dream of something like that,” Kendrick said.
This time it was the Dodgers manager who will have to answer for some questionable managing as he did not go to Kenley Jansen early in the 10th inning and stuck with Joe Kelly who the Nats crushed in Game 3. We had hoped that history would repeat itself, and it did. Dodgers Stadium started to empty out seconds after Howie Kendrick‘s grand slam went over the centerfield fence.
There were some tense moments in this game and a scary moment as Kurt Suzuki took a pitch that bounced off of his wrist and then hit him in the face. He came out of the game, and we wait on his status.
It was the Nats bullpen of Tanner Rainey, Patrick Corbin, Daniel Hudson, and Sean Doolittle who combined for 4.0 innings of one hit and no run baseball. Stephen Strasburg gave up 3 runs early but then locked in and went 6.0 innings while giving up only those 3 runs.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” manager Dave Martinez said. “I’m stuck right now in the moment. I’m just so proud of these guys and what they’ve done. I just want to wake up tomorrow, get on that plane to St. Louis and feel good that we’re playing again.”
The Nats offense finally got to starter Walker Buehler, and got the game to 3-1 as they laid in wait for the Dodgers bullpen much like they did against the Brewers bullpen in the Wild Card game. In all, the Nats got six runs off of the Dodgers bullpen to turn the tables on them. All of the analysts kept calling the Nats out for their weakness in the bullpen which certainly was an issue in the third game, but other than that, the Nats bullpen actually did better than the Dodgers bullpen.
’To win these types of games against this type of team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, your stars have to be stars,” general manager Mike Rizzo said. “Our stars were stars tonight and I think that’s what carried us through.”
The NLCS game #1 begins in less than 48 hours in St. Louis, and you can expect the Nats to fly directly there tomorrow. Who will start the first game is up in the air, and we expect Anibal Sanchez as the only rested pitcher, and he would be followed by Max Scherzer.