NLDS 5: LAD vs. WAS — A big 7th inning & an ace save

If I wasn’t so invested with things like loyalty and a job to the Yankees, I think I’d be looking at a NL team because they’re certainly keeping things interesting this postseason. And they’re the only “right” thing about my postseason bracket so far.

For the final division series match-up, the Dodgers and Nationals forced a Game 5, played back in D.C. tonight and for over four and a half hours, the two teams battled it out, heightening the postseason drama and dipping into some oddball strategy.

Actually, the Nationals struck first in the 2nd inning when Murphy led-off with a single, stole 2nd, and then scored on Espinosa’s single. Both teams managed to fend each other off for most of the game, with the Dodgers exhausting their bullpen, while the Nationals held firm with one of their star starters Scherzer, who threw into the 7th tonight.

Well, actually, it was that 7th inning that certainly turned the tide for the game. Scherzer gave up a first pitch lead-off home run to Pederson to tie up the game and end his night. But it took 5 relievers to get the next three outs for the Nationals. (A pitching change), a walk, (a pitching change), a single and a strikeout, (a pitching change), an RBI single and a fly out, (a pitching change), a big triple by Turner to score 2 runs, (a pitching change), and a ground out to end the Dodgers’ run rally inning.

Now, with that nice lead, going into the bottom of the 7th, the Dodgers were looking at their bullpen to close the deal for the last third of the game. But the first reliever promptly walked his first batter Espinosa and gave up a 2-run homer to Heisey to put the Nationals within a run of the Dodgers’ lead. A single to the next batter spelled the end for Dayton.

The next reliever Jansen had a bit of better luck but still found himself in a jam — a fly out, a single, a strikeout, and stolen base put runners in scoring position with just 1 out. So he intentionally walked Murphy (clearly the biggest threat on the Nationals’ roster this postseason) before getting a strikeout to end the Nationals hope to regain the lead.

Both teams got a few opportunities over the next two innings to do something with base-runners, but neither amounted to much of anything. With one of the stronger Dodgers’ relievers exhausting himself in the 9th inning after 51 pitches and 7 outs, the Dodgers turned to one of the few reliable pitchers in their arsenal — starting ace Kershaw. With 2 runners on base with walks and an out in the 9th, Kershaw threw 7 pitches to end the Nationals’ threat and give the Dodgers the win and the series.

Final score: 4-3 Dodgers, Dodgers win series 3-2 to advance to NLCS against the Cubs.

Now, we’re waist-deep in the postseason. Tomorrow, the ALCS begins with the Blue Jays vs. the Indians (in Cleveland) and the NLCS starts on Saturday with the Dodgers vs. the Cubs (in Chicago). So let’s look at how my predictions have gone so far and where I go from here:

  • Division series predictions:
    • ALDS: Rangers over Blue Jays in 5 games, Red Sox over Indians in 4 games.
      NLDS: Cubs over Giants in 4 games, Dodgers over Nationals in 5 games.
  • Division series realities:
    • ALDS: Blue Jays over Rangers in 3 games, Indians over Red Sox in 3 games
      NLDS: Cubs over Giants in 4 games, Dodgers over Nationals in 5 games
  • Division series results:
    • ALDS: 0-for-2 (including game projections)
      NLDS: 2-for-2 (including game projections)
  • Championship predictions:
    • ALCS: Blue Jays over Indians in 6 games
      NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers in 5 games

And we have time for a quick Yankee Universe update…

A few days ago, CC Sabathia had his scheduled arthroscopic surgery to clean up the results of his previous knee surgery. Yankees head physician Dr. Ahmad performed the surgery himself in New York. Sabathia should be ready for Spring Training in just a few months.

And the Arizona Fall League and instructional league began this week and features many familiar names and faces to many Yankee fans — Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford, Justus Sheffiled, Kyle Holder, James Kaprielian, and Greg Bird.

Go Yankees!

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