The Dodgers struck out a total of 17 times, but still fought until their very last out. They fell 4-2 to the Nationals and are now heading to Washington D.C. with the series tied, 1-1.
Game 2 featured two seasoned and composed starting pitchers and it was ultimately Stephen Strasburg who won the battle.
Strasburg was a terror, getting Dodgers batters out one right after the other. The Dodgers weren’t able to get past him until the fifth inning when rookie Will Smith ended the perfect game bid with a base hit to right field. Strasburg was perfect through 4 ⅔ and collected eight strikeouts in this span.
“It’s playoff baseball and you kind of want to let at adrenaline take over and just go out there and compete,” Strasburg said.
The Dodgers weren’t completely silent against Strasburg, as they were able to find a bit of a rhythm going against the ace in the sixth inning. Matt Beaty came in to pinch-hit for Kershaw after Gavin Lux struck out to start the inning. Beaty singled to right and Pederson followed with a double to position both runners in scoring position. Justin Turner hit a sac fly -- the most productive kind of out -- to allow Beaty to score the first Dodgers run of the night.
Strasburg’s game concluded after pitching six frames, and although he allowed the Dodgers to get a run, his night was spectacular. The 31 year old limited the boys in blue to three hits while striking out 10 batters -- nine of them swinging.
Once LA got through the speed bump that was Strasburg, they were able to collect one more run against the Nationals bullpen. It came in the form of a Max Muncy home run when he faced Sean Doolittle.
Doolittle finished the seventh inning without another incident and Nationals manager David Martinez’s decision to bring in Max Scherzer in for the eighth inning kept the Dodgers quiet for a bit longer.
It’s unclear whether Scherzer will start in Game 3 after making an appearance in Game 2.
“I’m going to see how he feels tomorrow,” Nationals manager David Martinez said. “I want to make sure he gets a night. He’s working out right now and we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
The Dodgers’ biggest offensive opportunity came in the bottom of the ninth inning. Turner led off the inning with a ground-rule double and then as soon as you knew it, the bases were full of blue after a pair of walks to Muncy and Smith.
It was a huge moment for Corey Seager -- bases loaded, two outs and an opportunity to be that guy (or at least, tie) the game.
But, after getting into a no-balls, two-strikes hole, he struck out on the eighth pitch of the at-bat.
Clayton Kershaw was facing a lineup stacked with right-handed batters and he didn’t win the battle. He wasn’t on his game early on, and the Nationals reaped the benefits. After allowing three runs in the first two innings, Kershaw held the Nationals to two hits and didn’t allow a walk.
“[Kershaw] did a good job of limiting damage,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He threw the ball pretty well, I really did. But those guys were taking good swings and putting together good at-bats. It’s a grind, the pitch count got up early … for him to give us six innings was big.”
He handed the ball to the bullpen with a three-run deficit after six complete innings. He was dinged for six hits, one walk and three earned runs while only dealing four strikeouts.
Dodgers relievers did decently, limiting the damage to one run.
Pedro Baez and Adam Kolarek each came in for ⅓ inning each, making way for Dustin May to make his postseason pitching debut.
The young May got out of the seventh inning quickly, but the eighth inning was a little bit shaky for him. He gave up a leadoff double to Adam Zimmerman and then walked Kurt Suzuki to fall behind quickly. A sac bunt moved the two baserunners over and then Asdrubal Cabrera knocked a first-pitch base hit to give the Nationals one more insurance run.
Julio Urias came in to hold the Nationals down for an inning and he did exactly that. The 23-year-old lefty let a baserunner get by him via an error, but was otherwise untouchable. Though this did allow the Dodgers to stay in the game, their offense couldn’t follow through to overcome the two-run deficit.
NLDS Game 2 particulars
WP: Stephen Strasburg, 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 10 K, 85-57
LP: Clayton Kershaw, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 99-65
Sv: Daniel Hudson, 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K
Home runs: Max Muncy
The series heads to Washington D.C. as the Dodgers look to reclaim the series on Sunday. Hyun-Jin Ryu will get the nod and first pitch is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. PT.