Stephen Strasburg retired the first 14 batters he faced tonight, and 15 of the first 16, striking out nine, and the Washington Nationals scored three runs on Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw in the first two innings to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
Strasburg gave up one run on three hits overall on the night, striking out 10 of the 21 batters he faced in six innings of work before he was done.
Sean Doolittle gave up a solo home run by Max Muncy in the seventh, 3-2, but the Nationals picked up a run on an RBI single by Asdrúbal Cabrera in the top of the eighth before turning it over to Max Scherzer, who threw a scoreless inning, striking out the side, and then Daniel Hudson, who locked down a two-run win with a dramatic, scoreless ninth, leaving the bases loaded. 4-2 final in LA. NLDS tied at 1-1.
Strasburg vs LA: Stephen Strasburg made two starts against the Dodgers in 2019, giving up four hits, two walks, and two runs while striking out seven in six innings of work in LA in late May, before holding Dodger’s hitters to one run on two hits in seven innings in late July, with nine Ks total in the nation’s capital the second time out.
He made a relief appearance in the Wild Card Game this past Tuesday, with three scoreless frames, but the Nationals decided he was good to go again tonight in Game 2 of the NLDS.
Strasburg took the mound with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a bases-loaded, RBI single by Howie Kendrick in the top of the first, and retired the side in order in a 13-pitch frame, striking out two batters, and set the Dodgers down in order in a 10-pitch second after the Nationals got two more off Kershaw in the top of the frame.
A 14-pitch, 1-2-3 third ended with a diving play by Juan Soto in left which kept the nascent bid for perfection going, and Strasburg picked up two more Ks in the third inning for five total from the first nine batters he faced, before adding another strikeout in a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth which left him at 47 pitches total, with six Ks from the first 12 batters he faced.
Strasburg retired 14 straight before Will Smith ended his bid for perfection with a two-out single to center in the fifth, and he went to a full count with Corey Seager before striking him out for his third K of the inning and ninth strikeout from the first 16 batters to step up.
Stephen Strasburg, 84mph Curveball & 88mph Changeup, Overlay (two different ABs vs Seager) pic.twitter.com/vqhl40vXGk— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 5, 2019
Pinch hitter Matt Beaty singled to right for the Dodgers’ second hit of the game with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and Joc Pederson doubled to center field in the next at bat, on Strasburg’s 82nd pitch. Justin Turner’s fly to right field was deep enough for a sacrifice fly, 3-1, but the Nats’ starter held it there, completing six innings on 85 pitches with a two-run lead.
Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 85 P, 57 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Kershaw vs D.C.: The Nationals missed Clayton Kershaw when they traveled to LA in May, but the Dodgers’ left-hander started in Nationals Park in late July, giving up three hits, three walks, and two earned runs in six innings, in which he struck out nine of 24 batters in a 9-3 win.
Kershaw finished his 12th major league season with a (16-5) record in 29 appearances (28 of them starts) with a 3.03 ERA (the 2nd-highest of his career), a 3.86 FIP, 41 walks (2.07 BB/9), and 189 Ks (9.54 K/9) in 178 1⁄3 IP.
“He’s really good,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after facing the Dodgers’ lefty in D.C.
“He made his pitches when he had to. We jumped on him early and then he was very effective using both sides of the plate, and when he gets like that it’s tough. He’s tough.”
Both the runs the Nationals scored off Kershaw in D.C. came in the first, and they loaded the bases with one out against the left-hander in the opening frame tonight in Dodger Stadium.
Howie Kendrick hit a single through the shift to drive in the first run of the game, 1-0, but Ryan Zimmerman tried to attack the first pitch he saw and popped it up for out No. 2, and Kurt Suzuki K’d swinging to end the threat and a 26-pitch first inning.
Kershaw hit Victor Robles in the first at bat of the Nats’ second, and two outs later an RBI hit to center by Adam Eaton and an RBI double to left-center by Anthony Rendon made it a 3-0 game in the Nationals’ favor.
Kershaw settled in and held the Nationals to three runs through six, but a 15-pitch sixth left him at 99 pitches total and with the Dodgers trailing, 3-0, he was done for the night at that point...
Clayton Kershaw’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 99 P, 65 S, 7/4 GO/FO.
Turn, Turn, Turner: Trea Turner ended the regular season with a 12-game hit streak going, and collected hits in the Wild Card Game and NLDS opener, extending it to 14 games in a row, in which he was 21 for 62 (.339 AVG), with seven doubles, six home runs, 11 RBIs, two walks, three stolen bases, and 14 runs scored.
He doubled by third base in the first at bat of tonight’s game, and scored the Nationals’ first run of the series on a one-out RBI single by Howie Kendrick.
BULLPEN ACTION: Trea Turner singled off Pedro Báez to start the top of the seventh, and Adam Eaton bunted for a hit in the next at bat, and the Dodgers went to the pen with one out after Báez got Anthony Rendon looking with a questionable 2-2 slider low in the zone, though out of it really.
Adam Kolarek came on to face Juan Soto, lefty vs lefty, and they battled for nine pitches before Soto sent a grounder to short for the second out of the inning.
Dustin May came on for Kolarek with runners on second and third and two out and got a groundout from Howie Kendrick to end the threat.
Sean Doolittle took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh, with a two-run lead, and retired the first batter he faced before giving up a solo home run to right field on a first-pitch to Max Muncy that was absolutely crushed, 3-2, but Doolittle held it there and got out of the inning with a one-run lead.
Ryan Zimmerman doubled to left off May to lead off the eighth, and Kurt Suzuki walked in the next at bat before Victor Robles bunted the runners over in front of Asdrúbal Cabrera, who drove in a run with a single to center, 4-2, but got caught in a rundown for the second out of the inning, before Trea Turner popped out to end the inning.
Max Scherzer came on in relief in the eighth. Wait, what? Yes, Max Scherzer came on in the bottom of the eighth and struck out the side in a 14-pitch frame.
Julio Urías misplayed a swinging bunt by Juan Soto into a two-out hit, but stranded the only batter to reach base in a scoreless top of the ninth.
Daniel Hudson got the ball in the bottom of the ninth and gave up a leadoff, ground-rule double to right by Justin Turner. AJ Pollock worked the count full in the next at bat, and struck out for the first out of the inning. Cody Bellinger popped out to short left for the second out of the inning, with Anthony Rendon ranging back to make a tough catch.
Max Muncy got the intentionals in front of Will Smith, who stepped in with two out and took a four-pitch, base-loading walk. Corey Seager? Seager fell behind 0-2 quickly and got to 2-2 before striking out to end it.
Final Score: 4-2 Nationals
NLDS tied at 1-1