Murphy drives in four
but Dodgers still manage to eek out a one-run victory to send both teams back to the Nations Capital for the deciding game five on Thursday night.
On Monday the Dodgers held Murphy in check and lost handily 8 – 3, on Tuesday Murphy, drove in four of the Nationals five runs and yet the Dodgers won 6-5. Go figure.
This was a stomach twister of a game. It started off well enough when I witnessed the best edition of the National Anthem I’ve ever heard. Just to make sure I wasn’t out to lunch on this assessment I asked my friend Joe and his group what they thought of the anthem. They replied “best they ever heard” without any input from me.
Since I was firmly in the start Kershaw camp I was hoping he’d show why he was the right choice. Then Turner singled and I knew he’d score, he’s just that good at finding the plate once he’s on base. During the regular season Turner got on base 119 times and scored 53, and that was the team missing their best hitter for two weeks and Harper in a slump most of that time. And sure enough, Danny Murphy brought him home.
Adrian Gonzalez revved back up the smallish postseason crowd with a two-run jack and once again the Dodgers had scored in the 1st inning. Inexplicably Cory Seager did not figure in the scoring it was Justin Turner on base after getting hit by Ross.
The Turner / Murphy combo would strike again in the 3rd and the Dodgers were tied 2-2, and worse, Kershaw was at 52 pitches and was seemingly struggling as he did on Friday.
The game turned on a Kershaw double down the left field line. Chase would fail once again just as he had failed this whole series. Seager continued his struggles after the 1st inning making the second out. With two out and Kershaw still standing at second, Justin Turner lofted a fly ball into left-center field, I thought for sure the speedy Turner would get to it, but he didn’t and as the ball dropped between Turner and Werth, Kershaw cantered home with the go-ahead run. That seemed to rattle Ross who then walked Adrian and Reddick to load the bases. Joc was hit by a pitch and the Dodgers had a 4 – 2 lead and had knocked Ross from the game. Grandal left the bases loaded again, possibly a record in a short five-game series.
The baserunning or scoring seemed to re-energize Kershaw who pitched the 4th-5th-6th like the Kershaw we all knew. Pitch count was no longer a factor, he had gone six in 80 plus pitches. Joc Pederson had hit an opposite field double to give the Dodgers a 5 – 2 lead in the bottom of the fifth so headed into the seventh all seemed going according to plan.
Kershaw headed out to start the 7th, and I’ll to admit I was shocked to read all the Dodger bloggers and beat writers tweeting about how surprised they were. Really? He had been mowing down the Nationals, hadn’t yet thrown 85 pitches, the bullpen was exhausted, seemed like a no-brainer to put Kershaw back out.
Kershaw had handled Espinosa easily the whole series but he started the 7th off with single to left field but I wasn’t worried. He struck out Severino for his 11th strikeout. The whiny Chris Heisey flew out to leftfield. Two out, one on, but now Turner was up and he had hit the ball hard twice off of Clayton. I saw Harper on deck. The last thing I wanted to see was Harper as the tying run. Turner hit a ball to the left of Seager who made a nice play to get to it but had trouble getting the ball to second and Espinosa beat the force. Now I was worried. Dave Roberts went to the mound but it was brief and he was going to let Kershaw face Harper.
2014 MVP facing 2015 MVP. This was Kershaw in his ill-fated postseason 7th inning facing the reigning MVP who had struggled most of Sept. One of them could change the dialog, but instead of something to write about, Harper simply walked, and the bases were loaded for Jayson Werth. That was it for Clayton, he left with having pitched a solid game, but once again was unable to close that 7th. A better shortstop makes the play on Turner and he never has to face Harper. On three days rest, he had given the Dodgers exactly what they needed, vindicated the choice by the front office, and the ovation as he left was the Dodger fans saying thank you.
Pedro Baez came in to face Werth and promptly hit him. This was a double killer, it left the bases loaded, moved the Nationals to within 5-3, and brought up Dodger postseason killer, Danny Murphy. Murphy did not disappoint, driving a two-run single into CF against Avilan and tying up the game. After all the hard work by Kershaw and the offense the game was tied 5 – 5. Dave went to Joe Blanton, and with the game on the line, Joe Blanton did what he’s done all year. He came through and struck out Rendon on three pitches.
Dodgers went meekly in the 7th but not without some controversy. Puig was called out on a questionable check swing call. My vantage point was horrible but it didn’t look like he had even come close to swinging. Video supported that, it was as Donald Trump would say “the worst call in the history of baseball, simply the worst”. I felt for sure that Puig would get tossed but somehow he managed to stay in the game and trotted out to RF for the top of the 8th. Joe Blanton would set the Nationals down in order. Have I said how amazing Joe Blanton is? Well, he is. Simply amazing.
Bottom of the 8th looks much like the 7th. Joc strikes out, Grandal grounds out. Two out no one on and Treinen hits Toles. Speed is on the bases. Andre comes up to pinch hit and drives a single into left field. Two on, two out but Chase Utley is up and up to this point Chase has been horrible. Not just this game with his three outs, two by strikeouts, but the whole series his bat and glove have been MIA. The count goes 1 – 2 and it seems inevitable that Chase will leave these runners.
Chase drives a shot past the lunging Murphy into RCF and Toles scampers home with the go-ahead run. The Ravine explodes.
Time for Jansen redemption and he blows through the Nationals first two hitters, striking out Drew and Turner. That brings up the 2015 MVP again. On a two and two count, he hits a dribbler to 2nd that Chase flies in on and nips Harper at 1st.
Sure glad I didn’t stay home for this game.
The announced attendance for the game was 49, 617. That was 5,000 below any NLDS game at Dodger Stadium last year. You can blame the game times but the reality is that the Dodgers normally sell out the retail side of the tickets for any postseason game. They did not, and the empty Reserved sections were a glaring reminder of the price the Dodgers are paying for not figuring out their TV problem.