Dodgers power into 2-1 NLDS lead over Nationals

The Los Angeles Dodgers grabbed a 2-1 lead over the Washington Nationals in the NLDS.

The Los Angeles Dodgers exploded for a seven-run sixth inning to beat the Washington Nationals 10-4 on Sunday.

The Dodgers got off to a slow start at the plate but eventually took a 2-1 lead over Washington in the National League Division Series (NLDS), with Game 4 set for Monday.

The Dodgers will go with Rich Hill against Max Scherzer.

 

Three takeaways from Dodgers’ win over the Nationals in NLDS Game 3

Dodgers' seventh-inning rally highlighted their ridiculous depth

The Nationals pitching staff throttled the Dodgers powerful lineup through 5.2 innings, striking out 11 batters in that span.

But an unlikely cast of characters sparked a seven-run rally in the sixth inning.

Cody Bellinger led off with a single but appeared on his way to being stranded after Patrick Corbin fanned the next two batters. Then came the unlikely rally. David Freese singled and fellow 36-year-old Russell Martin followed with a two-RBI double.

After a walk to utility man Chris Taylor, light-hitting Kike Hernandez lined another two-RBI double to left.

The Dodgers have one of the best top-to-bottom offensive lineups in baseball and opposing pitchers venture with extreme caution through the heart of the order. That the Dodgers erupted for seven runs thanks to role players such as Freese, Martin and Hernandez illustrates this team's depth. Martin later added a two-run homer and Freese finished with three hits after coming in as a pinch-hitter in the sixth.

 

Howie Kendrick's baserunning blunder might, or might not, have made a difference

Given the Dodgers' comfortable margin of victory, it might be a reach to point to one play as possibly costing the Nationals a chance at victory. But a base-running blunder might have made a difference in the outcome.

After the Dodgers scored seven in the top of the sixth, the Nats had their own rally in the bottom of the inning. With a run already in and the bases loaded and nobody out, Asdrubal Cabrera lofted a sacrifice fly to right that plated another run. Howie Kendrick, who was on second, tagged up to advance, but inexplicably stopped, then kept going. He was an easy out to complete the double play. Michael Taylor popped out to end the inning. 

It is not a reach to think that if Kendrick makes it safely to third, or even remains at second in scoring position with one out, the Nats might get another run or more in the inning, especially with the top of the lineup possibly getting a chance to come to the plate. Instead, the Nats' deflated rally left them trailing by four.

Don't count the Nationals out

The Nationals are definitely facing an uphill battle in the NLDS. FiveThirtyEight.com now gives them a 21 per cent chance of winning this series.

But people have counted out these Nationals before, only to watch their resilience.

When the Nats stumbled through most of the season's first half under .500, some counted them out. Washington righted the ship and played their way into contention.

When the Nationals had to keep winning down the stretch to make the wild-card spot, they did just that.

When the Nationals trailed Milwaukee in the wild-card game in the eighth inning, with flamethrowing closer Josh Hader on the mound for the Brewers, things seemed very dim indeed. Washington rallied to win.

It is premature to count Washington out, especially with Scherzer going in Game 4. With their ace on the mound, at home, the Nationals have a clear path to the fifth and deciding game in LA. And if the Nats can force that deciding game, there is a 100 per cent chance anything can happen.