LOS ANGELES-The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped the Washington Nationals in the first game of the National League Division Series. The Nationals returned the favor on Monday at Dodger Stadium. Instead of putting the pedal to the metal against the Nationals, the Dodgers surrendered their one game advantage.
The Dodgers’ 4-3 win gave in Game 1 looked like a series-changer. It certainly stunned the Nationals. That win gave the Dodgers a chance to seize the moment and take control of the series right out of the gate. The Nationals are now playing like they have something to say about how all of this plays out.
Washington has come up with two straight wins against the Dodgers after that first game, and have the Boys in Blue on the brink of playoff elimination with an 8-3 victory in front of a sellout Los Angeles crowd n Game 3.
Anthony Rendon’s home run in the third inning gave Washington a 4-3 advantage until the Nationals blew open the game in the top half of the ninth inning, with a lot of credit going to Jayson Werth’s two-run takeoff into the leftfield bleachers.
The four runs the Nationals scored in the ninth closed the deal on Game 3.
“That was big, because we exploded,” said Nationals manager Dusty Baker. “I think in the third, and then we didn’t explode again until the ninth, or the eighth. And I was like, boy, we were wondering, like, man, we’ve got to score some runs here, because this game is close and they have so much firepower over there, especially in a one-run game. And the fans are excited here, and get behind them, and the Dodgers are tough to beat here.”
The Dodgers won 91 games this season to win the National League West Division for the fourth year in a row. Most of the time, manager Dave Roberts and the Dodgers spent the season pulling a rabbit out of a hat with all the injuries and distractions they’ve have had to deal with just to get into position they’re in now.
Roberts have made the correct call in just about instant of crisis for the team this season. The trade of popular catcher A.J. Ellis could have set the team back and re-worked the club’s chemistry, but it hasn’t.
When Kershaw went down with a back injury in June, it looked like the postseason derailment train had arrived on the front steps of Dodger Stadium. Let’s not even discuss the distraction of a then possible trade of slugger Yasiel Puig, which surfaced during the season.
Through it all, Roberts and the Dodgers have scaled over every obstacle imaginable. They have a pretty big mountain to climb against the Nationals.
Dodgers jumped out to 1-0 lead when Corey Seager knocked in Justin turner on a double in the first inning. Things then began to go haywire for Dodgers pitcher Kenta Maeda. Making his first postseason start, Maeda got roughed up in the third inning by the Nationals, giving up four runs, including serving up that two-run home run to Rendon.
That would be the end of Maeda’s day. The Dodgers’ early momentum boost after getting that initial run went out the window with Washington’s scoring eruption in the fourth.
“It felt good after the double by Corey, and had some momentum,” Roberts said. “But you know, just right there, Kenta was missing, getting behind, and some fastballs leaked back over the plate. You know, they made him pay.
“Four runs, three innings, at that point in time, I felt that, you know, we had to go to the pen to try to shorten the game. But they capitalized on some good opportunities and it was a good game, a big hit by Chooch, by Carlos, and it was a good game till the ninth. I felt bringing Kenley in, in the ninth, to keep it close to give us a chance in the bottom half was the right thing…but that’s baseball.”
After the Nationals scored their three runs in the top of the third inning, the Dodgers rallied with two runs of their own in the fifth when Carlos Ruiz blasted a 3-1 fastball into the leftfield bleachers to close the Nationals’ lead to 4-3 with a two-run home run.
Ruiz’s pinch-hit home run was the first by a Dodgers player since Game 5 of the 2009 NLCS when Orlando Hudson achieved the feat.