26 Aug

LA Dodgers take lots of chances and get rewarded with a NLDS victory

first_imgJoe Blanton, normally the seventh or eighth inning reliever, entered in the third inning to bail out Rich Hill.Chase Utley, the postseason warrior for all these years, the guy who won Game 4 with a base hit, was lifted for former Phillies teammate Ruiz. “Chooch” then shot a single into left field for a 2-1 lead in the seventh, just before Turner, Mr. Red October, bounced a triple off the center field wall for two more.Then came Kershaw, who fought a herniated disk in his back all summer. That start on Tuesday came with three days’ rest. This relief appearance will precede a probable Sunday start against the Cubs in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. But the Dodgers know better than to be surprised.“They told me before the game to get ready for the fourth,” Blanton said. “Everybody on this team has had to do different things, but the great thing is that they’ve all embracing it. Nobody’s complaining.”With all the late-inning pitching roulette, the key play of the game was probably in the Nationals’ sixth. They already led 1-0 and were following Max Scherzer to what they thought would be their first postseason series victory.Ryan Zimmerman singled hard down the left-field line and Jayson Werth came barreling around third base. Third base coach Bobby Henley appeared to wave him home, but wasn’t terribly decisive. Werth is 37 and wasn’t Usain Bolt when he was 27. Corey Seager took Andrew Toles’ relay and fired it to Yasmani Grandal when Werth was 30 feet from the plate.On the way to the dugout, Adrian Gonzalez caught up to Turner.“Let’s make that one hurt,” he said.On the next pitch, Joc Pederson floated a home run to left field to tie the game and Scherzer came out. What happened next was a nightmarish parade of five Washington relievers, modern matchup baseball taken to caricature.“Tolesy did a great job cutting that ball off,” Turner said. “But when that happened, it got everybody going. It was a mistake and we had to make them pay for it.”The sight of Jansen trudging his way into the seventh inning might have alarmed some fans and arm doctors, but a baseball clubhouse appreciates sacrifice, especially by a player who will be a free agent next month.“That’s old school,” Gonzalez said. “Closers used to pitch two and three innings all the time.”And now the Dodgers head to Chicago and the casinos might want to think about closing their doors.Dave Roberts has flouted tradition, pattern and habit almost daily as the Dodgers manager. Just a few hours before the game he said Kershaw would “absolutely not” be seen in this game. But, just like Orel Hershiser in 1988, the best arm found its way to the toughest situation. “We’re going to have a good time tonight, but we have to win a couple more series,” Kershaw said. “That team in Chicago; I hear they’re pretty good.”All you heard at the end in Washington was the clicking of magic shoes. WASHINGTON >> Cinderella had her slipper. Clayton Kershaw had his spikes.“I didn’t even know he was in the bullpen,” Justin Turner said. “When I saw him I got chills.”“I was back up here in the clubhouse,” Joe Blanton said. “When I saw he was going to the bullpen, I got pumped. I said, we’re going to be OK now.”“He had on his running shoes in the dugout,” Carlos Ruiz said. ‘When he got his spikes on, I thought, here we go.” There they go. All the way to Chicago.The Dodgers didn’t see Frank or Claire Underwood but they turned the Nationals’ season into a house of cards Thursday night, coming back and then holding on to win the National League Division Series in the fifth game, 4-3.Kershaw, who had started Game 4 two days ago, got the last two outs, with a fastball popup to the previously unconquerable Daniel Murphy, and then a strikeout to pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo. He got the save, 20-year-old Julio Urias the win in his first playoff game.Before that, closer Kenley Jansen came into the seventh inning, two innings prior to custom. He bailed the Dodgers out of that jam and pitched into the ninth, when his consecutive walks to Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth caused Dave Roberts to beckon Kershaw.“Kersh had my back,” Jansen said. “I can’t tell you what it felt like to see him down there, ready to pick me up.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more