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Russell Martin’s heroic efforts give Dodgers series lead

Not a bad day for the 36-year-old

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not certain a lot of people would have penciled in Russell Martin as the Dodger to have the best day at the plate on Sunday night. That’s the best part about postseason baseball, anything can happen.

Martin went 2-for-4, including a go-ahead hit in the sixth and a two-run homer in the ninth to help give the Dodgers the 10-4 victory, and the 2-1 series lead over the Washington Nationals.

With two runners on and two outs in the sixth, the Dodgers trailed by a one. After removing starter Anibal Sanchez from the game, the Nats turned to Patrick Corbin in relief. Corbin started game one, and was coming out of the bullpen for the first time in two years. Martin stepped up to the plate, with runners at the corners.

He quickly fell behind 0-2, but saw the next two pitches to even up the count at 2-2. On the fifth pitch of the at bat, he connected on an 85-mph slider, sending it to the wall in left field. Both runners came in to score, and the Dodgers took the 3-2 lead.

Manager Dave Roberts gave Martin some high praise following the game. “What he’s done for our entire group, namely the young catchers, just the entire group of ball players, his insight, his experience, and now you talk about when he does get an opportunity to play,” he said to the media. “Just his toughness, his compete and obviously the at-bat quality. This is a guy that has big spots, he’s got some big hits for us this year, none bigger than the one tonight.”

This was only the beginning. Chris Taylor followed with a walk, putting two on for pinch-hitter Enrique Hernandez. He doubled, clearing the bases and giving LA the three-run edge.

Oh, it didn’t stop there.

With two on, Justin Turner launched a three-run homer into the left-field stands, giving the Dodgers the 8-2 lead, giving them seven runs in the inning. “It was quality at-bat after quality at-bat after that and next thing we know there’s seven runs on the board,” Turner said to the media. “So offense is definitely contagious and I think we all caught it that inning.”

Entering the ninth, the Dodgers were hanging on to a four-run lead. Though he already delivered a heroic act innings prior, Martin wanted to show he still has some left in the tank. With a runner on first, he got all of a 97-mph fastball, and sent a two-run homer deep into the D.C. night sky, giving the Dodgers the 10-4 win.

On the pitching side of things, Hyun-Jin Ryu was excellent. It looked as if things were going to be difficult early on, as he allowed a two-run home run to Juan Soto in the bottom of the first. He bounced back very nicely after, as he held the Nationals scoreless over his next four innings.

“[Ryu] didn’t necessarily have his best stuff, best command, but he throws strikes, keeps guys on their heels,” Martin said to reporters following the game. “He can mix speeds and mix locations, and our defense made some nice plays and he kept us in the game.”

He got into a jam in the fourth, allowing back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. As we’ve seen him do all season, he was able to escape with no damage, as he got a flyout and double play to keep the Dodgers to within only two runs.

Joe Kelly did struggle in his outing, as he failed to record an out. He walked three and allowed a single, before being relieved by Julio Urias.

Urias did his job, as he entered with the bases loaded and no outs. The Nats were only able to tack on one run, failing to capitalize on a golden opportunity to inch their way back into the ballgame. He ended up throwing two innings of one-hit ball.

Adam Kolarek opened up the ninth, where he faced Juan Soto for the third time this series. For the third time, he got him out, with this being the second time via the strikeout.

Kenta Maeda followed, retiring the final two batters of the inning.

Kenley Jansen came in for the ninth, appearing for the first time in the series. He had a 1-2-3 inning, including two strikeouts.

Sunday particulars

WP: Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-0) 5 IP, 2 ER, 3 SO

LP: Patrick Corbin (0-2) 23 IP, 6 ER, 2 SO

Box score

Up next

The Dodgers will look to win the series tomorrow, as Rich Hill will take the mound in game 4. First pitch is at 3:40 p.m. PT on TBS.