Don’t Stop Believin’

“Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to the feelin’
Streetlights, people”

~Journey

NLDS-Game 5-Los Angeles Dodgers vs Washington Nationals
NLDS-Game 5-The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate. The Dodgers defeated the Nationals 4-3. Wednesday, October 13, 2016. Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers,LLC 2016

Last night’s game had everything you could ever want in a playoff game. Great pitching. Runners thrown out at the plate. Home runs. Tension. Suspense. And when it was over, the Dodgers emerged on top. I was there, and I still can’t believe it happened.

The Dodgers offense didn’t help my nerves by being stagnant until the seventh inning and Joc Pederson‘s home run to make it a tie game. It helped when the Dodgers added three more runs that inning thanks to Carlos Ruiz and Justin Turner. It proved to be just enough, as the Nationals got two back in the bottom of the seventh on a Chris Heisey two-run homer off of Grant Dayton

All of the pitching staff pitched very well, with the exception of Grant Dayton. Joe Blanton came on in the bottom of the third to relieve starter Rich Hill, who only allowed one run. Julio Urias pitched two stellar innings, picking off Bryce Harper in the process. Kenley Jansen came out and left everything he had on the mound, after manager Dave Roberts made the unorthodox move of bringing him in to get out of Dayton’s jam in the seventh inning. He threw 51 pitches, the most he’s ever thrown in a game. He was relieved by none other than Clayton Kershaw, who we were all lead to believe would not be available to pitch in the game.

And Clayton came in to face the Dodger killer du jour, Daniel Murphy. Tying run was already on the basepaths. Game on the line. Kershaw got him to pop up, infield fly rule. Then he got Wilmer Difo to flail at a curveball in the dirt. Carlos Ruiz deftly blocked the ball, and calmly threw him out first. Game over. Dodgers move on. I went crazy, and Nationals fans around me left in disgust.

I was very impressed with Roberts and his managing of this game. It took some guts to use the bullpen in an unconventional way. But he used his best guys in the situations that gave the Dodgers the best chance to win. Although I would expect nothing less, I love that Kershaw came to Roberts in the seventh inning and told him he had an inning in him. I think that Kershaw laid some demons to rest with those seven pitches. I had thoughts before the game that seeing Kenley Jansen throw the final out of the game would just be the best. But I was wrong – seeing Kershaw throw the final out made that game and the whole series that much sweeter.

Obviously, throughout the series, there were so many missed opportunities. There were many questionable moves. The bullpen moves could very easily have come back to bite him. But in the end, they did it. The Dodgers, led by Dave Roberts, navigated it all and came out on top. They won back-to-back elimination games. I was not so happy with them in my previous post, but they are back in my good graces. They showed me their grit and determination, and got the job done. The next series will be very tough, but I am going to take today to just revel in this win. We deserve it.

 

 

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