2019 National League Division Series 1
|2019 National League Division Series|
93 - 69 in the NL
|3 - 2
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
106 - 56 in the NL
|1||Washington Nationals 0 Los Angeles Dodgers 6||October 3||Patrick Corbin (0-1) Walker Buehler (1-0)||8:37 pm|
|2||Washington Nationals 4 Los Angeles Dodgers 2||October 4||Stephen Strasburg (1-0) Clayton Kershaw (0-1)||9:37 pm|
|3||Los Angeles Dodgers 10 Washington Nationals 4||October 6||Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-0) Anibal Sanchez (0-0)||7:45 pm|
|4||Los Angeles Dodgers 1 Washington Nationals 6||October 7||Rich Hill (0-0) Max Scherzer (1-0)||7:40 pm|
|5||Washington Nationals 7 Los Angeles Dodgers 3||October 9||Walker Buehler (1-0) Stephen Strasburg (1-0)||8:37 pm|
Game 1 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Walker Buehler (1-0); LP: Patrick Corbin (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Gavin Lux (1), Joc Pederson (1)|
- Attendance: 53,095
Young starter Walker Buehler was the main story in Game 1, as he put on a dominant performance, justifying manager Dave Roberts's decision to tag him instead of the more experienced Clayton Kershaw or Hyun-Jin Ryu for the opener. He pitched six dominant innings, allowing just one hit and striking out 8, to put the Dodgers in a position to win. His opponent for the Nationals, Patrick Corbin, was not bad either, but the Dodgers took advantage of his few mistakes to score twice in 6 innings, one of the runs being unearned, as his 5 walks were a problem.
After Buehler retired the Nats in order in the 1st, LF A.J. Pollock started things off with a walk off Corbin in the bottom of the inning. After a pair of strikeouts, Cody Bellinger drew another walk, then a passed ball advanced both runners before Corbin's third walk of the inning, to Chris Taylor, loaded the bases. Another walk to Max Muncy forced in a run and Los Angeles had a 1-0 lead without the benefit of a hit. Juan Soto hit a lead-off single for Washington in the 2nd, but he was erased when Asdrubal Cabrera lined into a double play to 3B Justin Turner with one out; thus, the Nats' only hit off Buehler was in vain. After his command problems in the 1st, Corbin settled down and did not allow his first hit until Muncy led off the 4th with a single. That came after Washington had wasted a chance to tie the game in the top of the inning, as it was Buehler's turn to walk the bases loaded with two outs; however, Cabrera hit a harmless grounder back to him to end the threat. Corey Seager followed Muncy's single with an infield hit but Corbin retired the next three batters, including a pair of strikeouts, to keep the score at 1-0 through 4 innings.
The Dodgers doubled their lead in the 5th when Bellinger drew a two-out walk then went to third on a single by Taylor. Muncy then hit a ground ball to 1B Howie Kendrick that went through his legs for his second error of the game (his first, a similar play in the 2nd, had had no adverse consequences), allowing Bellinger to score before RF Adam Eaton picked up the loose ball and fired home to nail down Taylor and end the inning. The run was unearned, but the way Buehler was pitching, the climb started to feel steep. Both starters had a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th before the two teams turned the ball over to their respective bullpens. For the Dodgers, Adam Kolarek, Kenta Maeda and Joe Kelly shared the burden of the final three innings, allowing just one hit - a double by Trea Turner to lead off the 9th. For Washington, however, the bullpen had been an area of concern all year, and it proved true to form, allowing the Dodgers to put the game away. Pinch-hitter Joc Pederson drew a one-out walk off Tanner Rainey in the 7th, and Justin Turner followed with a single, moving Pederson to third. Ageless Fernando Rodney took the mound, and while he struck out Bellinger for the second out, he also allowed Turner to steal second then walked Taylor to load the bases. Muncy then drove in two runs with a single to make it 4-0. That was pretty much it for the game, but Los Angeles added insult to injury in the 8th when Gavin Lux, pinch-hitting for Maeda, and Pederson both hit solo homers off Hunter Strickland to make the final score 6-0. At 21, Lux was the youngest player in Dodgers history to hit a postseason homer.
Game 2 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Stephen Strasburg (1-0); LP: Clayton Kershaw (0-1); SV: Daniel Hudson (1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Max Muncy (1)|
- Attendance: 53,086
For years, Dodgers Game 2 starter Clayton Kershaw had been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball during the regular season, but an enigma in the postseason, sometimes very good, but more often erratic. It was likely the reason manager Dave Roberts had not given him the ball for the opening game, and he would have another underwhelming performance today. For Washington, it was Stephen Strasburg, coming off a terrific season and an equally strong performance in relief in the Wild Card Game who started what was in effect a must-win game. Washington got off to a solid start as Trea Turner led off the game with a double to left. Adam Eaton attempted to bunt him over to third but popped up to 3B Justin Turner instead. Kershaw then walked Anthony Rendon and hit Juan Soto with a pitch to load the bases. Howie Kendrick had a measure of solace for his two errors the night before by banging a clutch single to left that scored a first run. The next two batters were unable to add to the lead, but at least Washington had drawn first blood.
If Kershaw had been shaky in the 1st, it wasn't the case for Strasburg, who set down the Dodgers in order and in the 2nd the Nationals took full advantage of the Dodgers ace's lack of sharpness. Kershaw hit Victor Robles with a pitch and Strasburg laid down a sacrifice bunt to move him up one base. Trea Turner was unable to drive him in or advance him, but Eaton singled to center to double the lead. Rendon then followed with a double, and it was 3-0 Washington. The objective of getting to Kershaw early had been accomplished, and it was now up to their pitchers to hold the lead. Strasburg did his part with an excellent outing. While Kershaw settled down as expected, the Nationals' pitcher did not give up his first baserunner or hit until Will Smith singled with two outs in the 5th, then was left stranded. In the 6th, Matt Beaty pinch-hit for Kershaw, hit a single then moved to third on a double by Joc Pederson and scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Turner. It was the only run given up by Strasburg however.
With a 3-1 lead in the 7th, Washington needed to get three more innings out of its bullpen. Sean Doolittle, who had been the closer for most of the season before losing his job, was the first reliever to get the call. He made things more interesting when he allowed a solo homer to Max Muncy after one out, but it was the only baserunner against him. The Nationals then gave themselves some breathing room in the top of the 8th against Dustin May: Ryan Zimmerman led off with a double, followed by a walk to Kurt Suzuki. Robles attempted the third sacrifice bunt of the game, and was successful, advancing both runners and setting up Asdrubal Cabrera, who pinch-hit for Doolittle. He singled to right, scoring Zimmerman but was himself thrown out at second while the lumbering Suzuki stopped at third. The Nationals had a two-run lead again, but should have had more. With the tension still extremely high, manager Dave Martinez rolled the dice, channeling his good friend Alex Cora who had used the strategy a number of times with success in leading the Boston Red Sox to a World Series win the previous year, as he asked his ace starter, Max Scherzer, to pitch the 8th, figuring that he absolutely needed to preserve his small lead. The bold move worked as Scherzer struck out the side on just 14 pitches, leaving Daniel Hudson to take over for the 9th. The veteran allowed a lead-off double to Justin turner but then settled down by striking out A.J. Pollock and getting Cody Bellinger on a pop-up. Things got a little scary after that as Martinez elected to issue an intentional walk to the dangerous Muncy to face the rookie Smith, but Hudson walked him as well, unintentionally this time, to load the bases. Everything was riding on the next batter, Corey Seager, but he struck out on a full count and the series was tied.
Game 3 @ Nationals Park
|WP: Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-0); LP: Patrick Corbin (0-2)|
|Home Runs: LA - Max Muncy (2), Justin Turner (1), Russell Martin (1); WAS - Juan Soto (1)|
- Attendance: 43,423
Nationals manager David Martinez had a decision to make before Game 3: starting Max Scherzer on very short rest after his relief appearance in Game 2, or go with someone else and have a better-rested Scherzer available for Game 4. He announced his decision to rest Scherzer and start rejuvenated veteran Anibal Sanchez in his place just before the game, and it worked. It would be his next decision, taken in-game, that would blow up in his face, and place his team in a big hole. For Dave Roberts of the Dodgers, there was no such existential questioning: his starter was ERA champion Hyun-Jin Ryu. For five innings, however, Sanchez out-pitched Ryu, as both pitchers gave up a long ball: the difference was that Ryu's to Juan Soto came with a runner on base courtesy of a walk in the 1st, while Sanchez's was a solo shot by Max Muncy in the 5th. But that was after Sanchez almost did not make it out of the top of the 1st, after giving up a lead-off walk to Joc Pederson, a one-out single to Justin Turner and a two-out walk to Corey Seager; but he managed to strike out A.J. Pollock on a full count, and pitched well after that.
Thus, after 5 innings, the Nationals had a 2-1 lead, but Sanchez was nearing 90 pitches and was already facing the Dodgers' dangerous line-up for the third time. When he came to bat with one on and one out in the bottom of the 5th. Martinez opted to send in a pinch-hitter, Ryan Zimmerman, who grounded out. Middle relief had been Washington's bugaboo all year, and after successfully using starters Stephen Strasburg and Scherzer to help out in previous games this postseason, Martinez went to the well once again, this time asking Game 1 starter Patrick Corbin to take the mound. The move did not work at all, although it almost did: Cody Bellinger hit a lead-off single, but the next two batters struck out and the inning was almost over. However, Roberts then asked David Freese to pinch-hit for Gavin Lux and he singled to right, starting a snowball chain. Russell Martin followed with a double, both runners scored and Los Angeles took its first lead of the game, 3-2. That lead would be 8-2 by the end of the inning, as Chris Taylor walked, Enrique Hernandez doubled, Muncy was walked intentionally and Turner homered off Wander Suero to make it 7 runs after two outs. Bellinger completed the feat of the Dodgers batting around by doubling, but Suero finally recorded the last out by getting Seager to ground out to second base. There was no coming back from such a knock-out punch.
The rest of the game was just for show. The Nationals did take advantage of a wild outing by Joe Kelly to score a couple of runs on three walks, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 6th, but that only made the score 8-4. The Nats' rally could have been more impressive, but Howie Kendrick made a boneheaded baserunning mistake, being caught between second and third base when a run scored on Asdrubal Cabrera's sacrifice fly, killing whatever little momentum they had managed to build back. The Dodgers added a couple of insurance runs in the 9th, on a two-run homer by Martin off Hunter Strickland, continuing his gopher ball-happy ways from Game 1, making the final score 10-4. It would be up to Scherzer to have a great outing in Game 4 if the Nationals were to avoid making another exit at the Division Series stage.
Game 4 @ Nationals Park
|WP: Max Scherzer (1-0); LP: Julio Urias (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Justin Turner (2); WAS - Ryan Zimmerman (1)|
- Attendance: 36,847
The Nationals finally had Max Scherzer available to start a game in Game 4, his appearance having been delayed by an impromptu relief outing in Game 2, and it was in a must-win situation. The veteran was up to the task, turning in a great effort with only 1 run allowed in 7 innings before he could no longer go on. By then, Washington had built a 6-1 lead and had virtually assured that there would be a Game 5. His opponent on the mound was curve ball specialist Rich Hill, making for a combined age of 73 between the two! The game was played under intermittent rain which fell pretty briskly at times, but never for long enough for the umpires to suspend play. Scherzer was a bit shaky in the 1st inning, as his fastball lacked its usual bite, and he gave up a homer to Justin Turner with two outs. However, it would be just about the only blemish on his record until he began to run out of gas in the 7th. For his part, Hill struggled a bit with his control, walking a batter in the 1st and then losing the plate completely in the 3rd. In that inning, he walked leadoff hitter Michael A. Taylor, then after a one-out single by Trea Turner, walked Adam Eaton to load the bases. Anthony Rendon hit a sacrifice fly that tied the score at 1, and Hill then walked Juan Soto to load the bases again. Dave Roberts had seen enough and asked Kenta Maeda to come in to pitch, ensuring that the bullpen would have a long evening.
In the 5th, Julio Urias replaced Maeda, and it just was not his day. He allowed a lead-off single to Trea Turner, and Eaton bunted him to second. Rendon singled to put Washington ahead for the first time and after two outs, Howie Kendrick singled as well. Roberts now called on Pedro Baez to face Ryan Zimmerman and the veteran broke the Dodgers' backs by hitting a homer to center field, good for 3 runs and a 5-1 lead. Washington put two more men on base before Baez got Scherzer to ground out to third base, but the damage had been done. Ross Stripling pitched the 6th for Los Angeles, but he allowed what appeared to be a lead-off triple to Trea Turner, although the umpires ruled that the ball had been stuck under the center field fence and as a result the hit was (literally) a ground-rule double. Turner had to retreat 90 feet but he made that distance right back when Stripling threw a wild pitch. One out later, Rendon hit another sacrifice fly to make the score 6-1.
Now Scherzer returned to pitch the 7th, but he was clearly running out of gas. After one out, Matt Beaty singled to right and then both Gavin Lux and Will Smith drew walks. Roberts sent Chris Taylor to pinch-hit for Stripling, but after a mound visit, Scherzer was allowed to work his way out of the bases-loaded jam. A tense battle with Taylor resulted in a strikeout, after Taylor had lined a pitch down the right field line that landed just foul. If it had been fair, it would probably have cleared the bases. Scherzer then found enough left to force Joc Pederson to ground out to second, and ended his night with the lead intact. Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson took care of the last two innings, confirming the win. There would be a decisive fifth game.
Game 5 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Daniel Hudson (1-0); LP: Joe Kelly (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Max Muncy (3), Kike Hernandez (1); WAS - Anthony Rendon (1), Juan Soto (2), Howie Kendrick (1)|
- Attendance: 54,159
Game 5 featured two ace pitchers at the top of their powers in Walker Buehler and Stephen Strasburg, both of whom had won their previous start in the series with a strong performance. For Washington it was also an opportunity to finally win a division series, after being on the losing end in the four previous occasions they had reached the stage. But things did not start off well for the Nats. They went down in order against Buehler in the 1st, then in the bottom of the inning, Joc Pederson hit a ground rule double on a ball that was originally ruled a homer but that turned out, upon video review, to have gone through a gap between the wire mesh and the wooden fence at Dodger Stadium, and not over the fence. However, that only bought Strasburg a brief reprieve, as the next batter, Max Muncy, hit a home run that did not leave any doubt and made the score 2-0. Strasburg then walked Justin Turner before finally recording an out when he struck out Cody Bellinger. But his troubles weren't over: Matt Beaty followed with a single to center before he got Corey Seager to ground into a double play. In the 2nd, Juan Soto led off by hitting a ball to the warning track in left field; LF Kike Hernandez originally turned the wrong way and had to make a last-second recovery to make the catch on what would have otherwise been a double; this turned out to be an even more crucial play when Ryan Zimmerman hit a single one out later, but the Nationals were unable to score. In the bottom of the inning, Hernandez redeemed himself by hitting a homer to center field, and it was 3-0 Dodgers.
No doubt Washington fans were going over the heartbreak of division series past in their heads at this point, but Strasburg managed to settle down, in spite of Howie Kendrick mis-fielding a ground ball by Cody Bellinger in the 3rd, resulting in his third error of the series. In the 4th, it was Los Angeles' turn to misplay a ball, as Seager and Hernandez both converged on a seemingly harmless fly ball by Soto to shallow left field, but miscommunication resulted in the ball bouncing out of Seager's glove for a two-base error. The Nationals were unable to cash him in, however, then in the 5th put the first two batters on base with a walk and a single but were unable to drive either runner in. So it was still 3-0 in favor of the Dodgers after 5 innings, and time was starting to run out. They finally got to Buehler in the 6th when Anthony Rendon hit a lead-off double and scored on a single by Soto, but Kendrick then grounded into a double play, ensuring that this would be the only score. Two more runners were stranded in the 7th, after Kurt Suzuki was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and Trea Turner drew a two-out walk. That led to a flurry of changes and Clayton Kershaw replaced Buehler, striking out Adam Eaton to end the inning. Tanner Rainey came in to pitch the bottom of the 7th and got two outs before Patrick Corbin recorded out number 3 by striking out Pederson.
Down 3-1 in the 8th with Kershaw on the mound, things looked bleak for Washington, but they mounted an unlikely comeback as Rendon and Soto both homered on back-to-back pitches before the veteran lefty could record an out. Kenta Maeda then came in and struck out the next three batters, but the damage had been done and the game was tied. The Dodgers failed to score in the bottom of the 8th and neither team could do anything in the 9th either. In the 10th, Joe Kelly came out for a second inning and walked Eaton, allowed a double to Rendon, and then issued an intentional walk to Soto to load the bases. Next up was Kendrick, who had been a bit of a goat in the series so far. But he became a hero by blasting a grand slam to center field. With a 7-3 lead, Sean Doolittle relieved Daniel Hudson, who had also pitched the 9th, and he struck out A.J. Pollock giving the latter the dubious distinction of having gone 0-for-13 in the series with 11 strikeouts. Muncy and Justin Turner did no better, both making outs, and the Nationals were winners advancing to the National League Championship Series for the first time since their relocation to the Nation's capital in 2005.
- Gabe Lacques: "MLB playoffs: Washington Nationals present a huge threat to Los Angeles Dodgers in NLDS", USA Today, October 3, 2019. 
- Andrew Simon: "Analyzing Nats-Dodgers position by position", mlb.com, September 3, 2019. 
|Major League Baseball National League Division Series