The Dodgers fell 6-1 to the Nationals on Monday night in what was their first opportunity to clinch the NLDS. With Tuesday’s loss, the series is forced to Game 5, where the two teams will battle it out in Los Angeles. A win-or-go-home situation is about to go down at Chavez Ravine.
Here are a few takeaways from the Game 4 loss.
There is no “I” in “team”
Cliche? Yes. True? Also, yes.
It’s no question the Dodgers offense has been a hit and miss throughout this NLDS. Although there are several players who have gotten hot, such as Justin Turner, Max Muncy and Russell Martin, it’s going to take more than a few guys to carry the team past the divisional series.
Combined, Turner and Martin have nearly half of all the Dodgers hits in the series, with 10 of LA’s 21 hits. Without this duo, the Dodgers are 21-for-108, which is below a .200 batting average. Sure, this doesn’t really matter because Turner and Muncy are, indeed, on the team, but is interesting to note how much these players are carrying the offense.
In Game 4, the Dodgers’ only run came at the hands of Turner, who hit a solo home run in the first inning. For the rest of the game, though, the Dodgers didn’t give themselves enough opportunities for them to score, with their only real threat coming in the seventh inning. The bases-loaded-and-one-out thing didn’t pan out, though, leaving three of the night’s eight runners stranded on base.
It’s easy for me to sit at my computer and say the Dodgers need to start hitting like they did in Game 3 ... but that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Anthony Rendon is really good
Now, Anthony Rendon is giving the Dodgers a run for their money. The 29-year-old third baseman is on an absolute tear, contributing to the Nationals’ offense in some way, every night.
Game 4 was his peak game thus far, going 1-for-2 with two sacrifice flies. He collected three RBIs on the night and scoring a run while he was at it. His RBIs made a huge impact on the Dodgers’ momentum heading into the later innings — it was the difference of being down 6-1 than being down 3-1. It will be key for the Dodgers to limit his opportunities to get a hit by pitching to him, aggressively, or not at all.
Walker Buehler fared well against Rendon in Game 1, where Rendon went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
Slow and steady wins the race
The Dodgers need to stay calm, cool and collected heading into Game 5. Dave Roberts always says every player on the Dodgers wants to be that guy — the clutch guy who smacks a game-winning hit. Although this is a strong suit, it does put a lot of pressure on the players to come up with big hits during the biggest moments. This is why small ball is key to winning these kinds of games.
Take Game 3 for example.
The Dodgers were down by a run heading into the sixth inning and the offense couldn’t seem to get anything cooking. Then, Cody Bellinger and David Freese hit a pair of base hits and Martin followed with a double. Just like that, the Dodgers were leading 3-2 and they rallied for another five runs.
Sure, the rally included a Turner home run, but there was a lot less pressure for him to come through in a huge way, since the Dodgers’ small ball rally gave them a comfortable lead. I’m no hitting coach, but the Dodgers seem to do well when their objective is to get on base, rather than go yard.