The Dodgers lost game three and lost their home field advantage in the NLDS.
LA stole home field advantage from Washington with a win in game one of the series. However, they couldn’t hold up, as they dropped game three at home and are now on the brink of another quick postseason elimination.
Kenta Maeda struggled through the first, as he walked two batters and gave up a single to load the bases. Maeda is a pitcher that lives on the outskirts of the strike zone, which is beneficial with one of the two best pitch framers behind the plate. However, when Maeda doesn’t get chases and doesn’t get calls on the edge, he struggles. That happened today. He did escape the first without any damage and tossed a quick second, but his outing came unhinged in the third.
Bad things tend to happen when Trea Turner leads off and gets on base. He singled to lead off the third, and scored on a Jayson Werth double. Werth fell behind 0-2, but Maeda missed his location and Werth drilled it to right. He advanced to third on the relay throw home, and scored on a Bryce Harper RBI single. Harper stole second and moved to third when Charlie Culberson couldn’t pick a bad throw by Yasmani Grandal, and he scored on an Anthony Rendon dinger.
Maeda’s pitch to Rendon was bad. Like, really bad.
After a lineout, things became laughable. Maeda didn’t allow another run, but he threw a strike to Danny Espinosa. Espinosa was awarded first, as he stuck his elbow pad over the plate and took the HBP.
That’s not even a strike that needs to get framed. This also happened after Joc Pederson was hit on the hand, but ruled out on strikes as the ump thought it hit off the bat.
Maeda was pinch hit for in the bottom of the third, ending his night much sooner than expected. He allowed five hits and four runs in his three innings, walking two and striking out four in the process. Him allowing four runs wouldn’t concern me much if he went a bit deeper in the game, but three innings is concerning for many reasons. Mainly, it drains the bullpen for a decisive game four.
The bats actually struck early against lefty Gio Gonzalez. Justin Turner drew a one-out walk, and Corey Seager crushed a double to the gap to score him. Seager didn’t hit it out, which surprised me a bit. He’s good.
Gonzalez settled down nicely and got through four harmless innings. He allowed a double in the third, but the the Dodgers couldn’t cash it in. However, he failed to finish the fifth inning.
After a ground out, Joc Pederson lined a single to right. Andre Ethier was on deck to face a lefty, but with a runner on he was pulled back for Carlos Ruiz. This was a bit confusing as Austin Barnes had already pinch hit, leaving the Dodgers without a backup catcher. It didn’t really matter, as Ruiz hit a 3-1 fastball deep into the left field bleachers to bring the Dodgers within one. Ruiz wasn’t really appreciated by many for replacing fan-favorite A.J. Ellis, so it was really nice to see him come up with a huge homer.
Unfortunately, that homer didn’t exactly spark the offense. They got two other baserunners, but never really threatened to score again.
Tasked with another long afternoon, the bullpen came through once again. Pedro Baez got the fourth and threw a quick inning, but he stayed in for the fifth and struggled. He walked two batters, but managed to escape with a second scoreless frame.
The Dodgers used three pitchers for the sixth, starting with Grant Dayton. He allowed a single and got a punchout before giving way to Josh Fields, who got a strikeout but issued a walk. He was replaced by Luis Avilan, who threw a wild pitch to put two Nats in scoring position. However, Avila struck Daniel Murphy out to escape the jam.
Joe Blanton took the seventh, and worked around a two-out single for a scoreless inning. He remained in for the eighth and got squeezed a bit, but still managed to strike out the side.
Kenley Jansen came in for the ninth inning despite trailing. His second pitch was demolished by Jayson Werth, expanding the deficit to 5-3. He continued to struggle, as he walked Murphy and hit Harper’s jersey to put two on with no outs. After a popout, Ryan Zimmerman hit a ball to the right field wall, and Josh Reddick (who had just come in on a double switch) jumped to try to make the play, but missed the ball allowing two more to score.
Ross Stripling took over for Jansen and got a sac fly to make it 8-3.
Tomorrow becomes the mother of all must-win games. It’s simple. If the Dodgers win, they fly back to Washington for a winner-take-all game five on Thursday. If not, they fly to their homes and start the offseason.
Starters aren’t decided yet, but it will either be Clayton Kershaw (on short rest) or Julio Urias tomorrow. I’m very anti using Kershaw despite it being an elimination game. You don’t want to lose without your best player, but you also don’t want to win and then throw Rich Hill on short rest or Urias in a do-or-die game five on the road. Let Urias throw and actually do things on offense.