Heading to Washington with a two-game lead would have been a major advantage for the Dodgers. Arriving home having split both games in Los Angeles would have been an apparent edge for the Nationals. Either way, Friday night’s NLDS Game 2 was a huge contest for both sides.
Stephen Strasburg threw six very effective frames, and the Dodgers could not overcome the Washington bullpen in the latter innings, as the Nationals held on for a 4-2 victory at Chavez Ravine.
Early in the contest, Strasburg was seemingly untouchable. The Dodgers didn’t even register their first hit until catcher Will Smith lined a single to left-center field in the bottom of the fifth inning.
From the game’s onset, the Washington offense capitalized on starter Clayton Kershaw‘s erratic command. In the top-half of the first, Trea Turner poked a double just past Justin Turner at third base to lead off the game. Later in the inning, the Nationals loaded the bases after Anthony Rendon walked and Juan Soto was hit by a pitch. Turner subsequently scored on a Howie Kendrick single, but Kershaw escaped the opening frame trailing by just one run.
In the second inning, Victor Robles lead off by being hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a Strasburg sacrifice bunt. Robles plated the Nationals’ second run after an Adam Eaton single to center. One batter later, Eaton scored after Rendon doubled to left field.
Washington led 3-0 after two.
Kershaw ultimately settled down in the middle innings and held the Nationals scoreless over the next four frames, but Stasburg was equally as impressive. When the smoke settled on Strasburg’s evening, he threw six full innings, surrendering just one earned run on three hits and no walks while striking out 10.
The Dodgers only run off the starting right-hander came in the sixth when Turner hit a sac fly to right scoring Matt Beaty, who reached base with a pinch-hit single.
With Sean Doolittle pitching for Washington in the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers cut the lead to one run after a mammoth homer to deep right off the bat of Max Muncy. However, the Nats struck right back when Asdrubal Cabrera singled off of Dustin May, scoring Ryan Zimmerman and stretching the Nationals’ lead to 4-2 heading into the bottom half of the eighth.
Surprisingly, Washington ace Max Scherzer came on to throw the eighth inning, holding the Dodgers at bay and striking out the entire side in the process.
With Daniel Hudson pitching for Washington in the bottom of the ninth, Turner hit a ground-rule double to start a no-out rally for Los Angeles. After A.J. Pollock struck out and Cody Bellinger popped out to third, Muncy was walked intentionally. Smith walked on four pitches in the subsequent AB, setting up a bases-loaded showdown between Hudson and Corey Seager, who ended up punching out to end the game.
Coincidentally, the Dodgers struck out a whopping 17 times on the evening.
The Nats out-hit the Dodgers 10-5, as Turner, Eaton and Rendon all had two hits for Washington.
After a travel day on Saturday, the series moves to the nation’s capital on Sunday tied at one-game apiece.
First pitch for Game 3 is slated for 7:45 PM Eastern time.