It felt like a must win game for the Dodgers heading into the game. The Washington Nationals decided that instead of pitching Max Scherzer in Game 3, they would go with Anibal Sanchez, saving Scherzer for Game 4 and Stephen Strasburg for a possible Game 5. But win it the Dodgers did, although it took awhile to look like their normal selves.
The Washington strategy worked, for a while. It looked a lot like Game 1. The Dodgers looked hapless against Sanchez. But once he was out of the game, it was a totally different contest.
The Dodgers worked multiple walks in the first inning, but ultimately left the bases loaded, with A.J. Pollock striking out. Sanchez did throw 28 pitches in the inning, though.
The Nationals ran out in front in the bottom of the first, getting a two-run homer off the bat of Juan Soto.
Through four innings, Sánchez had struck out eight batters while working his pitch count up into the 70s. Through that time, nine out of ten of the swinging strikes from the Dodgers were on pitches clocking between 74-87 MPH, and the majority were outside the strike zone.
Once again, it was Max Muncy who started the scoring for the Dodgers. He took Sanchez deep in the fifth inning on an 0-2 count for a solo homer, cutting the deficit to one.
Ryu worked himself in and out of multiple jams in the fourth and fifth, but ultimately gave up only the two early runs in his start.
Patrick Corbin came on in the sixth, then Cody Bellinger promptly collected his first hit of the NLDS, a single to right field. David Freese pinch-hitting for Gavin Lux, delivered a single. Russell Martin drilled a 1-2 pitch to the ceter-field wall, and the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead on his two-run double. Pinch hitter Chris Taylor walked, and the third pinch hitter of the inning, Enrique Hernandez, delivered a two-run single of his own, providing the Dodgers with a 5-2 lead and chasing Corbin from the game.
Later in the inning, Muncy was intentionally walked, and Wander Suero was brought in to try to minimize the damage. Suero promptly surrendered a 3-2 home run to Justin Turner. Bellinger then collected his second hit of the inning, this time a double. Seager grounded out, but the Dodgers plated seven runs while sending 11 batters to the dish. They finally looked like the 106 win team that they are.
Joe Kelly was brought into the game to relieve Ryu, and walked the first two batters he faced. Then he gave up a single to Howie Kendrick, and all of a sudden there’s bases loaded and no one out. He threw a wild pitch, 8-3. He then walked the next batter. Kelly was finally replaced by Julio Urias. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly, scoring one, but Kendrick ran himself into an out for a double play. Urías then induced a pop-up to get out of the jam.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the top of the seventh against Fernando Rodney, but Muncy flew out to center, ending another rally.
The Dodgers didn’t let up, though. Russell Martin drilled a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to make it 10-4. Kenley Jansen appeared in the ninth and shut it down, handing the Dodgers a 2-1 lead in the series.
The Dodgers will face Max Scherzer and the Nationals in Game 3 on Monday at 3:40 PDT. Rich Hill will take the mound for the Dodgers.