Trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 after seven tonight in LA’s Dodger Stadium, in Game 5 of the NLDS, the Washington Nationals got back-to-back home runs from Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, on consecutive pitches from Clayton Kershaw, in the top of the eight inning, tying it up at 3-3, and got a grand slam by Howie Kendrick in the 10th in what ended up a 7-3 win that sent them to the NLCS for the first time in franchise history (2005-present)! Stay in the fight! See you in St. Louis!!!
Strasburg in LA: With three scoreless in relief in the Wild Card Game, and six strong in Game 2 of the NLDS, in which he gave up just one run, Stephen Strasburg lowered his career postseason ERA to 0.64 in 28 IP.
What has he learned about handling the postseason pressure in his career that’s led to success in big moments?
“I just learned over the years that pressure’s a funny thing and I think it’s something that you have complete control over,” Strasburg said in advance of his start in Game 5 of the NLDS in Dodger Stadium tonight.
“There’s obviously a lot of expectations,” the 31-year-old right-hander added, “... there’s a lot of excitement in games, but I really tried over the years to train my mind into thinking that every single game is just as important and just sticking to my approach. I mean, my approach is everything and the results are one thing and how I respond to those results is just as important.”
There’s no bigger moment than a decisive postseason game, and last time he was in a spot like this he dominated the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 of the NLDS to force a Game 5.
Tonight in LA, Strasburg fell behind early, giving up a double to left by Joc Pederson in the first at bat, and a two-run home run to right by Max Muncy in the second, 2-0 LA.
Kiké Hernández hit a 1-0 fastball out to left-center to lead off the bottom of the second, 3-0.
Strasburg held it there through four, but was up to 73 pitches after a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth, with the score still 3-0 LA, and he was up to eight straight set down after a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth, which left him at 88 pitches overall.
Strasburg came back out for the bottom of the sixth, and gave up a leadoff single to right by Cody Bellinger, who promptly stole second on a first-pitch curve, but back-to-back-to-back Ks followed for the Nats’ starter, whose outing ended after 105 pitches total with the Dodgers up, 3-1.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 2 HRs, 105 P, 70 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
Buehler vs D.C.: Walker Buehler tossed six scoreless on 100 pitches in the Dodgers’ 6-0 win over the Nationals in Game 1 of the NLDS, walking three, and striking out eight of 21 batters at home in Dodger Stadium.
His approach to a decisive postseason game? Buehler’s done it before, and he said that will definitely help.
“I guess this will be kind of my third of those scenarios,” the Dodgers’ 25-year-old starter said on Monday when he learned he’d have to go in tonight’s Game 5, “so something I’m familiar with and getting to do it at home certainly helps and there’s not a lot to it. We’ve got to win a game and if we don’t, we go home.”
Last time he was in this position, in Game 7 of the NLCS last October, the right-hander went 4 2⁄3 innings, giving up six hits and one run in a 5-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Tonight in LA, Buehler tossed a scoreless, 11-pitch top of the first, and took the mound with a 2-0 lead in the top of the second, and a 3-0 lead in the third, completing three scoreless on 43 pitches.
A 13-pitch fourth left Buehler at 56 after four scoreless, but he let the first two batters reach base in the top of the fifth, with Kurt Suzuki walking and Michael A. Taylor singling. Stephen Strasburg K’d trying to bunt the runners over on a full-count pitch, however, Trea Turner K’d trying to hold back on a 2-2 cutter in the dirt, and Adam Eaton lined out to right to end a 26-pitch frame which left Buehler at 82 pitches total.
Anthony Rendon doubled to left on a 1-1 slider in the first at bat of the sixth, and Juan Soto stepped in next and lined a 1-2 cutter to right for an RBI single that brought Rendon in, 3-1.
Anthony Rendon does an Anthony Rendon thing.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 10, 2019
Juan Soto brings him home.
BOTTOM 6 // Dodgers 3, Nats 1 pic.twitter.com/rG9enKJLcX
Buehler hit Kurt Suzuki in the first at bat of the Nats’ seventh, off the wrist and up into his face on the ricochet. Yan Gomes came on to run at first base. Michael A. Taylor K’d in the next at bat, and pinch hitter Asdrúbal Cabrera lined out to center, but Trea Turner walked, keeping the inning alive for Adam Eaton... and that was it for Buehler.
Walker Buehler’s Line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 117 P, 74 S, 6/4 GO/FO.
Elimination: While the Nationals started the night 0-3 in Game 5s since baseball returned to the nation’s capital in 2005, they were 3-0 in win-or-go-home games this season, taking the NL Wild Card Game, and Game 4 of the NLDS with the Dodgers to keep a season that began with the team 19-31 in the first 50 games alive.
BULLPEN ACTION: Clayton Kershaw took over for Walker Buehler with two on and two out in the Nationals’ half of the seventh, and Adam Eaton at the plate, got up 0-2, and got out No. 3 with a not-quite-checked swing at a slider outside. Still 3-1 Dodgers.
Tanner Rainey got the first two outs of the Dodgers’ seventh after taking over on the mound and Patrick Corbin came on to face Joc Pederson and struck him out to end the inning. Still 3-1 LA.
Clayton Kershaw came back out in the top of the eighth ... and gave up back-to-back blasts by Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, which tied it up a 3-3. #STAYINTHEFIGHT!!!
Juan Soto is 20 years old.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 10, 2019
Juan Soto is left-handed.
Juan Soto just homered off Clayton Kershaw...
...down by 1 in the 8th inning of a do-or-die Game 5 on the road at Dodger Stadium.#ChildishBambino // #STAYINTHEFIGHT pic.twitter.com/0zyvNp2GgE
Kenta Maeda took over for LA, and retired the next three batters to keep it a 3-3 game in the eighth.
Corbin came back out in the bottom of the eighth, and hit Justin Turner with a first pitch slider with one down, but he got Cody Bellinger to chase a 1-2 slider outside for out No. 2, and got David Freese swinging on a 3-2 fastball. Still 3-3 in LA.
Joe Kelly got the top of the ninth for the Dodgers, and retired the side in order in a 10-pitch frame.
Daniel Hudson gave up a one-out single by Kiké Hernández on a low liner to left field, that put the potential winning run on first base, but Will Smith lined out to the track in right for out No. 2, and Chris Taylor lined out to a charging Michael A. Taylor in center for out No. 3.
Kelly came back out in the top of the tenth inning and walked Adam Eaton, putting a runner on in front of Anthony Rendon, who doubled to left field. Second and third, no outs. An IBB to Juan Soto loaded them up in front of Howie Kendrick, who hit an 0-1 fastball out to center for a [expletive deleted] grand slam! GRAND SLAM!! 7-3 Nationals!!!!! 7-3 NATIONALS! HOWIE KENDRICK IS A GOLDEN GOD!!!!
Kenley Jansen got the final two outs of the top of the tenth.
Sean Doolittle came on in the bottom of the inning and retired the Dodgers in order to end it. DOOOOOOOO!!!!! BALLGAME!!!
Final Score: 7-3 Nationals
Nationals advance to NLCS with the Cardinals. See you in St. Louis!!!