Once again, the Dodgers' efforts to win the World Series have come to grief. This time around, they didn't make it out of the NLDS round, and how they frittered it away in Game 5 on Wednesday night won't soon be forgotten around Chavez Ravine and environs.
The Dodgers were back home for the deciding Game 5 against the Nationals with young ace Walker Buehler on the mound. They barged to a 2-0 lead in the first thanks to Max Muncy's home run, and then in the very next inning an Enrique Hernandez solo shot made it 3-0 in favor of the hosts and heavy favorites.
The score held through five innings and withstood a two-on, nobody-out threat from the Nats in the top of the fifth. Going into the sixth, the Dodgers per basic win expectancy had an 87.2 percent chance of winning Game 5 and advancing to the NLCS to face the Cardinals.
In the sixth, though, Washington landed its first punch. Juan Soto singled sharply off a Buehler cutter to bring Anthony Rendon home and cut the lead to 3-1. At the same time, Rendon's run reduced the Dodgers' chances of winning to a slightly more manageable 73.6 percent.
The eighth inning is Clayton Kershaw had been summoned to retire Adam Eaton as the final out of the seventh, and then he was tasked with facing Rendon to start the fated eighth. Rendon took a borderline curve just low, and then on the second pitch -- less of a strike than the first -- he dug a slider up and cracked it over the left field wall to cut the margin to 3-2. The very next pitch, Kershaw delivered another slider to the platoon-disadvantaged Juan Soto, and the 20-year-old did this with it:Iconic lefty
Tie game, 449 feet later.
Kershaw, author of yet another postseason low point, gave way to Kenta Maeda. Maeda buried the next three batters in sliders away, and given the extent to which his stuff crackled, one wonders why the righty hadn't been summoned to face Rendon at the outset.
The 3-3 score held again through the bottom of the eighth, the full ninth and into the 10th. Then the Nats went back at it. Manager Dave Roberts let Joe Kelly work his first multi-inning outing since Aug. 24, and as you surely know it didn't go as planned, at least from the Dodger standpoint. Eaton worked a walk, Rendon bounced a double over the wall and then Soto was issued an intentional walk (even though Adam Kolarek was available to attack the lefty slugger). That brought veteran batsman Howie Kendrick, 0 for 4 with two strikeouts on the night, up to the plate. You know what's next:
Kendrick took that low-and-inside fastball from Kelly and sent it over the center field wall. The moment it cleared the wall, the Nats had a 7-3 lead and a 98.6 percent chance of winning the series in stunning fashion. Those odds, unlike the odds the Dodgers built in the early innings, would not be defied.
Nationals to the NLCS, Dodgers to the offseason.