Game 1 of the National League Division Series was in fact a pitchers’ duel, but not like we might have thought. Both bullpens excelled, but it was the Dodgers with the lead to hold, and they did in a 4-3 win over the Nationals to take the opener on Friday at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Jansen recorded the final five outs to tie his longest career save (also done this April 13 vs. Arizona), the longest outing in a save by a Dodgers reliever since Jay Howell got the final seven outs to close out Game 4 of the 1988 World Series.
The Dodgers nearly rallied for some insurance in the eighth inning, but Jansen’s spot in the batting order came up. The switch-hitting Jansen, 1-for-3 with a walk in his career, struck out batting left-handed against Mark Melancon, apparently while using a Carlos Frias bat.
After batting, Jansen mowed down Trea Turner, Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the ninth to close out the game. He threw 27 total pitches.
Dodgers relief pitchers combined to record the final 12 outs of the game, while Sammy Solis and Melancon combined for three scoreless innings for the Nationals.
Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw both struggled in Game 1, though in different ways, and each one battled through to keep their team in the game.
Corey Seager got to Scherzer first, with a one-out home run in the opening inning for a 1-0 lead. Seager, at 22 years, 163 days old, is the youngest Dodger ever to hit a postseason home run.
Andrew Toles, starting in his very first playoff game, singled to open the third inning, was sacrificed to second then scored on a single by Chase Utley for a 2-0 lead. Justin Turner, was hit by a slider on his left hand in the first inning, hit a two-run shot against Scherzer to give the Dodgers a 4-0 advantage.
Scherzer tied for the major league lead with 31 home runs allowed in the regular season so the home runs weren’t too much of a surprise, but he allowed four runs in a start for just the fourth time in his last 19 starts.
Turner, who was 10-for-19 with six doubles in the 2015 NLDS against the Mets, opened the 2016 NLDS with two hits and reached base three times. The one out he made was a long drive to the warning track in left center field in the eighth inning, tracked down by Jayson Werth.
Kershaw struggled with his command all night, especially with his offspeed pitches. He struck out the side in the first inning but needed 17 pitches to do so. After that, there was traffic all over the bases for the rest of his day.
An unturned double play and an error by Chase Utley extended the second inning, but so did a seven-pitch at-bat to the pitcher Scherzer.
The Nats were held scoreless in the second, but used three hits and a walk to score two runs in the third. A double by catcher Pedro Severino was cashed in in the fourth inning to bring the Nationals within one.
Kershaw’s frustration was beginning to show, such as on a missed location on a slider on the pitch before the double by Severino:
At 83 pitches through four tough innings, Kershaw was allowed to hit for himself up a run in the top of the fifth, and struck out. He then allowed two more hits in the fifth inning to put the tying run in scoring position with one out, but Kershaw got Ryan Zimmerman to fly out to right field, then struck out Danny Espinosa to end the fifth.
Espinosa batted with two runners on in the second inning, two runners on in the third inning, then again with two runners on in the fifth, and struck out all three times against Kershaw.
Kershaw yelled as he walked off the mound, happy to get through five innings at 101 pitches. He allowed three runs on eight hits, with a walk and seven strikeouts.
Game 1 particulars
Home runs: Corey Seager (1), Justin Turner (1)
WP - Clayton Kershaw (1-0): 5 IP, 8 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
LP - Max Scherzer (0-1): 6 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 5 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (1): 1⅔ IP, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts