It was a game of opportunity and the Dodgers really took advantage of the Nationals’ mistakes. With help from a bunch of walks, a pair of errors and a couple late inning homers, the Dodgers came out with a 6-0 victory in Game 1 of the NLDS.
The highlight of the game came in the eighth inning when rookie Gavin Lux and Joc Pederson hit homers to extend the Dodgers’ lead to six runs. It was Lux’s first postseason at-bat and he showed he is capable of doing damage — even in higher pressured situations.
“I wanted [Lux] in there to take the at-bat to keep his defense in there for that 9th inning,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I loved the matchup ... for [Lux] to take that first postseason at-bat and hit a homer, I can’t say I expected it, but I’m very happy for him.”
Stage fright for the rook? Nah. pic.twitter.com/5DhnX0pjJM— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 4, 2019
It wasn’t Joc’s first time at the rodeo, as this was the sixth postseason homer of his career.
Is the foul pole okay? pic.twitter.com/x2BvW0c8X3— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 4, 2019
Los Angeles got off to an early first inning lead without even recording a hit. The Dodgers run was courtesy of Nationals starting pitcher, Patrick Corbin.
Corbin couldn’t find the strike zone and walked a total of four batters to hand the Dodgers a one-run lead. This is not to say the 30-year-old left hander pitched poorly, but rather, the Dodgers were patient and took advantage of Corbin’s mistakes.
“After that first inning he was dynamite,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “In the first inning I think he got a little amped up. His front side was opening up a little bit and he couldn’t get the ball.”
He went on to pitch two more hitless innings before the Dodgers got something brewing in the fourth.
Max Muncy, who had a productive night, got the first hit of the night and Corey Seager immediately followed with a base hit of his own. With Muncy and Seager on at the corners, Will Smith was up to bat, but home plate umpire Will Little called him out on strikes on a controversial call.
Corbin ended the Dodgers’ fourth inning threat by retiring the next two batters in five pitches.
The Dodgers weren’t done threatening in the rest of the game, though. They came right back in the fifth inning and followed through to extend their lead. Cody Bellinger, with “MVP” chants roaring through the stadium, drew a two-out walk and Chris Taylor followed with a full-count base hit.
Max Muncy came up to bat in yet another clutch moment and, with a bit of luck, he was able to find success. He reached first base on a fielding error by first baseman Howie Kendrick, which brought in Cody Bellinger to score and cash in another insurance run. Unfortunately for LA, the inning ended on this play when Chris Taylor was waved in to score from first base, but was out by a mile.
Maximum pressure, maximum results. pic.twitter.com/OqK6TMJwFY— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 4, 2019
When the Nationals turned to their bullpen in the seventh inning, the Dodgers turned to trust in their bats to continue riding the momentum. The bases were loaded with blue (again) with one out in the seventh and Max Muncy (yes, again) brought runs home.
There were a couple base steals — both Justin Turner and Max Muncy stole second base in this inning — but nothing came out of it except crowd cheers and impressive postseason stats.
Behind all this offensive success is also some dominant pitching. Dodgers pitchers held the Nationals scoreless to make their win look even more spectacular.
Walker Buehler was quietly but efficiently holding down the Nationals — limiting Washington to one hit and three walks over six innings of work.
Buehler did get into a bit of a jam in the fourth inning, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t handle. He walked the bases loaded to give the Nationals their first threat of the game. Buehler was on his game because he stopped a high ground ball from getting past him to end the inning.
It didn’t look like the loud environment impacted his performance at all. And if it did, it was only for the better.
“I think sometimes it helps to kind of embrace the atmosphere,” Buehler said. “Kind of learning to do that I think has been the biggest thing for me and luckily it’s played out all right for me.”
He finished the game after reaching the 100-pitch mark and he racked up a total eight strikeouts on the night.
Unlike Game 3 of the 2018 World Series, the bullpen preserved his win by keeping the Nats scoreless.
Adam Kolarek came in as the lefty specialist and recorded one out in the top of the seventh before Kenta Maeda buttoned up the next 1 2⁄3 innings. He didn’t give up a hit and struck out two batters in the outing. Joe Kelly came in to finish out the game and although he gave up a hit, he pitched a scoreless frame to bring the Dodgers home.
NLDS Game 1 particulars
WP: Walker Buehler, 6.0 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 8 K, 100-62
LP: Patrick Corbin, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 9 K, 107-62
Home runs: Gavin Lux, Joc Pederson
The Dodgers look to keep the momentum going tomorrow in Game 2. Clayton Kershaw will get the nod and face Steven Strasburg. First pitch is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. PT.