Talking about Washington’s 6-5 loss to Los Angeles in Game 4 of the NLDS, in an instant classic of a game that featured Clayton Kershaw playing hero, Nationals’ MVP Daniel Murphy continuing to crush Dodgers’ pitching, and even Chase Utley coming up big in the twilight of his storied and at-times controversial career, Dusty Baker praised the play he saw from both teams.
“That's what baseball is all about right there, a matter of will,” Baker said.
He did, however, note that the Nationals pretty much handed the Dodgers some of the runs which helped keep LA alive in the best-of-five division series, setting up Game 5 in D.C. later today.
“I mean, really, the walks hurt,” Baker explained.
“Then the hit batsman. We kind of gave them the first three runs, other than the home run, to Gonzalez, which was I think preceded by a walk.”
It was preceded by a hit-by-pitch, actually, but back-to-back, two-out walks and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch gave the Dodgers their fourth run of the game and 4-2 advantage after three in Chavez Ravine.
“When you look at it, maybe it's just their day,” Baker said.
What ended up being the winning hit came on an RBI single by Utley, which followed a hit-by-pitch and single in the home-half of the eighth.
Baker pondered the idea of bringing Sammy Solis on to face Utley, lefty on lefty, but wanted to try to avoid using the left-hander if possible, and he anticipated a move from the other dugout if he did bring on the last southpaw left in his bullpen.
“We had Solis warming up,” Baker said. “But we really didn't want to use Solis, unless it was an emergency. That was an emergency situation, but I didn't want to bring a tired Solis out there to face, you know, Howie Kendrick, because we were trying to stay away from Howie Kendrick, because he's been hitting lights-out. I mean, he's been hitting the ball hard. So you've got to pick your poison. You know, didn't work.”
There were positives to take from the loss, of course, including the fact that the Nats rallied from a 5-2 deficit to tie it before Utley’s hit saved the Dodgers’ season.
Part of the Nationals’ rally was an eight-pitch battle between Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw that ended with Harper walking to load the bases before a hit-by-pitch on Werth and a two-run single by Murphy tied it up.
Baker said he liked what he saw from Harper, who went 0 for 3 with the walk and a run scored.
“I'm liking the fight we're seeing from him,” Baker told reporters.
“During playoff time is when he's at his best. I'm liking it a lot, because Kershaw, he's been hard on him his whole career, and he knows it and Kershaw knows it and you guys know it, everybody knows it. I like what I'm seeing, the fight in him.”
He liked what he saw from the lineup as a whole, which, Baker said, has shown signs of being what he thought it could be.
“The more we go in these playoffs,” he explained, “the more you're going to see the lineup that I envisioned, production-wise, all year long.
“So it's a big -- I told you before today's game that it was going to be a tough battle today, and it was. And now we're going home.”
And now the season is on the line in Game 5 of the NLDS. The winner goes on to face the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.