Despite jumping out to an early 3-0 lead, the Los Angeles Dodgers were unable to hold on and suffered a stunning 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium.
The winner-take-all matchup began on a promising note, as Walker Buehler looked dominant in a scoreless first inning of work. He was provided with early run support in the form of a first-inning, two-run homer by Max Muncy that gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
L.A. tacked on another run in the bottom half of the second when Kiké Hernandez took Stephen Strasburg deep as well, extending their lead to 3-0 after two innings.
That score would remain intact until the sixth inning, when the Nationals cracked the scoreboard courtesy of Juan Soto’s RBI single. It was the lone run Buehler allowed in his 12.2 innings pitched during the 2019 postseason.
After preventing a Nationals’ rally by striking out Adam Eaton with two runners on base in the seventh inning, Clayton Kershaw returned to the mound for the ensuing frame. Things unraveled in the eighth when Anthony Rendon and Juan Solo mashed back-to-back home runs.
After failing to walk it off in the ninth, the decisive Game 5 between the Dodgers and Nationals extended into extra innings. Joe Kelly, on the mound for another frame, loaded the bases without recording an out before Howie Kendrick cleared them with a series-winning grand slam.
It resulted in another abrupt and bitter postseason exit for the Dodgers, who fell just short of advancing to a fourth consecutive NL Championship Series. “This group is very close,” Muncy explained from an emotional clubhouse.
“We all care about each other in here, so it’s just hard. We all knew what we had, we knew we were better than what we showed out there. We were feeling great. Kersh got out of the inning, looked good, we all felt great and went back out there. Sometimes baseball isn’t meant to be.”
Wednesday’s loss against the Nationals represented the Dodgers’ earliest postseason elimination since 2015, when they similarly fell to the New York Mets in a decisive NLDS Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.
One can argue that L.A.’s latest loss is more difficult to grasp considering their historic success during the regular season and the fact that they were only six outs away from reaching the finish line.
“It’s probably going to take a while,” Muncy said of the timeline in which he’ll be able to move past the Dodgers’ heartbreaking defeat. “Really don’t know.”