Game Five of the NLDS might have cost Dave Roberts his job. Dodgers fans thought so too as “fire Roberts” chants echoed down from the rafters of Dodgers stadium after Howie Kendrick’s tenth inning grand slam, but the game was a lot more than that.
What was supposed to be the Achilles heel of the Nationals powered them to victory in game five. The bullpen and the pitching. After a rocky first two innings from Steven Stausburg, he was able to settle down and only allow those three runs to go along with six hits through six innings. The Nationals bullpen only allowed one more hit after Strausburg exited the game, a Kike Hernandez single off Daniel Hudson in the bottom of the 9th.
It seemed like everything Davey Martinez did turned to gold and everything Dave Roberts did, the opposite happened. Roberts brought Kershaw in with two outs and he struck out Adam Eaton. Martinez countered with Tanner Rainey, then with Patrick Corbin to take on Joc Pederson, who struck out. But the top of the eighth is when the magic happens. Anthony Rendon leads off. Home run. Juan Soto hits second, home run. Two pitches from Clayton Kershaw, two home runs, tie ball game. Kenta Maeda came in to bail the Dodgers out and stuck out the side.
The Nat’s went in order in the 9th, the Dodgers had a single from Kike Hernandez but squandered that when Will Smith and Chris Taylor both flew out. The top of the tenth started with an Adam Eaton leadoff walk, then, the man of the hour strolled up to the plate. Anthony Rendon, he hit a ground-rule double off the wall in left. Juan Soto was intentionally walked, and mind you Joe Kelly is still in the game here. Howie Kendrick then took a Joe Kelly fastball and sent it 410 feet into right-center field. 7-3 Nationals.
1,2,3 went the Dodgers in the 10th and so did their record-breaking 106 win season. One could make the case too that so did the Dave Roberts era in LA. It all comes down to the pitching decisions in the playoffs. Taking Rich Hill out to early in game four, which ended in a Dodgers loss. You could also make the case that Walker Buehler should have stayed in during game three and have Kenley Jansen just pitch the ninth.