2019 NLDS Recap: Dodgers Jump Out To Early Lead, But Clayton Kershaw Blows It & Howie Kendrick Hits Game-Winning Grand Slam To Help Nationals Earn Series Win
2019 NLDS Recap: Dodgers Jump Out To Early Lead, But Clayton Kershaw Blows It & Howie Kendrick Hits Game-Winning Grand Slam To Help Nationals Earn Series Win
Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

When Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts addressed the media before first pitch of Game 5 of the National League Division Series, he welcomed the possibility of his club exploding much like the St. Louis Cardinals did against the Atlanta Braves.

“That’s a good blueprint,” Roberts said. “They got off to a good start. I’ll bank 10 runs in the first. That would be great.”

While the Dodgers failed to match the Braves, they jumped on the Washington Nationals early. However, that was not enough as the Nationals came back late and earned a 7-3 victory in 10 innings that propelled them to their first NL Championship Series. They’ll meet the Cardinals in the best-of-seven series that begins Friday.

With Dodger Stadium buzzing from Walker Buehler throwing a 1-2-3 first inning, Joc Pederson sent them into more of a frenzy on what appeared to be a leadoff home run. However, the ball landed between the fence and padding of the Dodgers’ bullpen gate, resulting in a ground-rule double.

Any letdown was immediately erased when Max Muncy collected his first career hit against Stephen Strasburg by driving a two-run home to right-center field. Kiké Hernandez extended the Dodgers’ lead with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the second.

That came after he made a circus catch in left field to rob Juan Soto of a potential extra-base hit. “I love Kiké’s defense where I think Walker is more fly ball than ground ball, so to have him out there in left field makes a lot of sense,” Roberts said before the game.

Strasburg didn’t have his same command of breaking pitches that induced plenty of swing and miss in Game 2, but he managed to settle in to keep the Nationals’ deficit manageable.

But their first runner in scoring position didn’t come until Corey Seager dropped a pop-up in shallow left field, leaving Juan Soto on second base with one out. Buehler retired the next two batters faced to preserve the 3-0 lead.

He encountered more trouble in the fifth inning when a leadoff walk was followed by a base hit. The Nationals elected to have Strasburg bat for himself, but he failed to execute a sacrifice bunt. Trea Turner then struck out and Adam Eaton lined out to right field.

The Nationals managed to scratch in the sixth when Anthony Rendon’s leadoff double was followed by an RBI single from Soto. Buehler pitched into the seventh inning but was removed after issuing a two-out walk.

That prompted Clayton Kershaw to enter out of the bullpen, and he stranded both runners by picking up a strikeout. But that was it for Kershaw’s success, as he promptly allowed back-to-back home runs to Rendon and Soto on consecutive pitches in the eighth inning.

The game eventually went to extra innings, where Joe Kelly gave up a grand slam to Howie Kendrick to give the Nationals the win and end the Dodgers’ season.