Dodgers 2 Nationals 5: LOBaton Kills the Dodgers
By Alex Campos
The Dodgers reverted to their old ways as they dropped game two in Washington.
The Dodgers had more than their share of chances early on, but couldn’t get a key hit. The Nationals struggled early on, but got a huge hit and added insurance late to save a split at home in the NLDS.
Through three innings, Rich Hill was absolutely fantastic. He struck out the side in the first, but worked himself in and out of trouble in the second. Hill allowed a single, walked a batter and hit a batter to load the bases, but knocked down a comebacker to start an inning-ending double play.
He bounced back in the third as he struck out the side again. His seven strikeouts through three innings tied a postseason record, but the wheels fell off in the fourth.
Daniel Murphy led off with a walk, which is always a recipe for disaster. After a pair of flyouts, Hill hit Danny Espinosa for the second time in the game. That brought Jose Lobaton, who hit into that second-inning double play, to the plate with runners on first and second. He did not end the inning this time, as he deposited a three-run jack on a hanging curveball to give the Nats the lead.
In other “baseball is dumb” news, that was only Lobaton’s second hit off a lefty all season.
Hill struggled again in the fifth, which started with a Trea Turner single. Turner stole second and held at third on a Bryce Harper single. Hill got a pop-out, but got squeezed a bit with Murphy at the plate, and Murphy lined a single for a fourth run to chase Hill from the game.
Hill left runners on the corners, but neither of them scored (thanks to some dumb baserunning). His final line wasn’t pretty, as he only went 4.1 innings and allowed four runs. He allowed six hits and two walks, but the big difference in the game was the Nationals getting the one big hit.
For the second straight game, Corey Seager hit a home run in his first at bat. Yesterday, he jumped on Max Scherzer‘s first pitch. Today, Tanner Roark’s first pitch knocked Seager down. Probably unintentional, as Roark struggled with his command early on. Seager got the green light on 3-0 and hit a Roark fastball over the right field wall to give the Dodgers an early lead.
In what ended up being a common theme of the day, the Dodgers loaded the bases in the second. Roark wasn’t fooling anyone, and the Dodgers got more than their share of baserunners. In the second, a single/walk/HBP loaded the bases with one out, but Hill struck out and Chase Utley grounded out to end the threat.
The Dodgers did get a run in the third. Justin Turner drew a one-out walk, and Adrian Gonzalez singled him to second. Josh Reddick singled to right, and it was a really dumb decision to send Turner, but Lobaton couldn’t handle Harper’s throw. Turner should have been out by about 20 feet, but it gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. The Nats intentionally walked Joc Pederson to load the bases, but Yasmani Grandal grounded into a double play to end the inning.
After losing the lead, the Dodgers managed to chase Roark in the fifth. Turner singled and Reddick followed a Gonzalez flyout with another single to force Roark out. Dusty Baker went to lefty Marc Rzepczynski, who walked the bases loaded but got a strikeout and a lineout to escape the threat.
The Dodgers threatened again in the sixth. Utley and Turner each walked, However, Sammy Solis came in and got Gonzalez to fly out.
The bullpen dominated the offense throughout the rest of the game, as a one-out single by Turner in the ninth was the only other baserunner the Dodgers had.
Pedro Baez relieved Hill with runners on the corners and one out. He got Jayson Werth to fly out to left. Howie Kendrick battled the wind for the catch, and for some reason Harper tried to score. Kendrick threw him out rather easily to end the threat.
Luis Avilan came in for the sixth. He allowed a leadoff single, but got a strikeout and a groundout to bring up the pitchers’ spot. Washington sent in Chris Heisey, so the Dodgers countered with Josh Fields. Fields got Heisey to chase to end the inning.
Fields remained in to start the seventh and got Trea Turner to chase as well. He was pulled for Grant Dayton, who struck Harper out but allowed a double and a single to make it 5-2.
Ross Stripling made his first postseason appearance and threw a clean ninth. Depending on how the series goes, he could be asked to eat a few innings in game four, regardless of whether Clayton Kershaw or Julio Urias starts.
The Dodgers went 0-5 and didn’t bring home a run with the bases loaded in this game. That’s impressively bad. Hill made one awful pitch, and that ended the game.
It’s not all doom and gloom. This turns into a best-of-three series, with the Dodgers having home field advantage. That’s what you want when starting a series on the road.
Both teams will fly to LA for an early game tomorrow, thanks to MLB’s awful scheduling. There was a chance for tomorrow’s game to be pushed back an hour, but Cleveland and Boston was rained out today.
Next: How LA Will Make It Back to the World Series
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, a lefty will start tomorrow. Gio Gonzalez has been bad this season, but the Dodgers have struggled against southpaws. Kenta Maeda starts for LA with first pitch scheduled for 1:08 PST.