(Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)
The good news is that the Dodgers ultimately did what they needed to do, defeating the Nationals 6-5 and forcing a decisive Game 5 in the nation’s capital on Thursday. The bad news is both the starting rotation and bullpen are nearly exhausted, outside of a 20-year-old rookie southpaw just waiting to have his shot at stardom.
With two outs in the eighth inning, left fielder Andrew Toles was hit by a Blake Treinen pitch before pinch-hitter Andre Ethier singled to left, creating an opportunity for Chase Utley, who snuck a grounder into right field that scored the speedy Toles. Closer Kenley Jansen ultimately went on to pitch a perfect ninth frame to seal the win for the Dodgers.
Resident ace Clayton Kershaw had a shaky start for Los Angeles, allowing Trea Turner to score on a Daniel Murphy single in the top of the first inning. Dodgers’ first baseman Adrian Gonzalez consequently went yard with one aboard to take the lead in the bottom of the first frame, seemingly creating a surge of much-needed adrenaline for a squad already mired in a must-win scenario.
After surrendering another run on a Murphy sacrifice fly in the third, Kershaw settled in and cruised well into the seventh inning, striking out 11 Washington batters in the process. He even helped himself out on the offensive side of play, slicing a leadoff double into the left field corner and scoring on a Justin Turner single.
Not wanting to test an already taxed bullpen, skipper Dave Roberts and his coaching crew elected to stretch Kersh into the seventh, where he would eventually walk Bryce Harper to load the bases with two outs. Pedro Baez entered the game to relieve Kershaw, only to throw one pitch and hit Jayson Werth to force in a run and reduce the Dodgers’ lead to two runs. Luis Avilan was quickly called upon and surrendered yet another single to Murphy which tied the game at five apiece.
Despite rookie Julio Urias being fresh and unused in the first four games of the series, the Dodgers have elected to start lefty Rich Hill on short rest in the decisive Game 5 finale. He’ll be opposed by righty Max Scherzer for the Nationals.
After an off-day on Wednesday, we do know the contest will indeed take place on Thursday in Washington at a time to be determined later. Please feel free to check back frequently for any developments, as well as a bit of pregame commentary leading up to the final game of the series.