The Good: Anthony Rendon. Hitting in the fifth spot in the order, Rendon had a pair of hits, including a two-run single in the third that came after the Dodgers put up a three-spot against Max Scherzer in the top half of the inning.
Also: Ryan Zimmerman — 2 for 4 with three really hard-hit balls. Sammy Solis — two innings of scoreless relief, hopefully a harbinger of good things to come for the Nats sole lefty starter.
The Bad: Max Scherzer. Tough to hang a label on Scherz after all he’s done this season, but the team needed a dominant performance from its ace and potential Cy Young candidate and he was... meh. Actually, he was crummy for two innings and good old Max for the other four, but that won’t cut it right now. Scoring for this team is going to be at a premium, and the starters can’t afford to put the hitters in a hole in this series.
The Ugly: Danny Espinosa. Went 0 for 3 in the absolute worst possible way, striking out three times — with two runners on in each occasion — and making the third out in that manner twice.
This reinforces how much the team misses Wilson Ramos that not only does an inferior hitter take his actual spot in the lineup, it also forces Espinosa up a spot in the order as well, further weakening the batting order. Espinosa may very well win a game in this series with his glove, or with a home run, but he killed the team Friday night. Three different times he killed the team.
The Takeaway: Being down 1-0 after the first game of the five-game series at home isn’t a death knell, but a loss in Game 2 would be. In a short series like this, everything gets magnified.
We knew the Game 1 matchup — Scherzer against Clayton Kershaw — was a toss-up, but neither pitcher dominated and it seemed like the Nats had Kershaw on the ropes several times and let him off, only to let him pick up the win when they couldn’t reach the bullpen.
With Gio Gonzalez and his shaky nerves set for Game 3 and Joe Ross, who’s thrown 90 pitches in a game exactly once since July 2, on tap for Game 4, it becomes absolutely imperative that Tanner Roark throws a gem on Saturday in Game 2 and leads the Nats to salvage a split at home.
Moment that mattered: With one out in the bottom of the seventh, with the Nats trailing 4-3, Daniel Murphy drew a walk against lefty Grant Dayton. The Dodgers called upon Pedro Baez to face Rendon.
Murphy, in his first game back after missing almost three weeks with a strained gluteus, tried to steal against the slow-working Baez. Murphy was slower, though, and was thrown out easily by catcher Yasmani Grandal. Potential rally was snuffed, the Dodgers turned to closer Kenley Jansen in the next inning, and the Nats went quietly into the night.