Nationals upstage Dodgers with 10th-inning slam en route to NLCS
The Washington Nationals reached the National League Championship Series for the first time in their history after stunning the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 on Wednesday.
Washington's come-from-behind victory in Game 5 midweek sealed a 3-2 NL Division Series triumph for the Nationals in the MLB playoffs.
Trailing 3-1 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, Washington's Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto crushed back-to-back home runs off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw to tie the game.
Fast forward to the 10, where the Dodgers intentionally walked Soto after allowing two Nationals to reach base to lead off the inning.
Former Dodger Howie Kendrick stepped in and took Joe Kelly deep to right center for a grand slam and a 7-3 lead, which proved to be the winning score.
It was a big moment for the Nationals, who were established in 2005 after the Montreal Expos were relocated – the Expos reached the 1981 Championship Series.
The Nationals will now face the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, with a World Series berth on the line.
Three takeaways from the Nationals' win over the Dodgers in NLDS Game 5
Buehler came up big for LA
Walker Buehler got the nod from manager Dave Roberts for Game 5 and boy did he deliver.
The 25-year-old surrendered just one run and four hits over 6.6 innings of work while walking three and striking out seven. Buehler also made history as he became the first pitcher ever to strike out at least seven batters in each of his first six postseason games.
Wednesday's start coupled with his performance in Game 1 (6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K) gives Buehler a 0.71 ERA this postseason.
Kershaw's playoff struggles continue
While Kershaw did not start Wednesday's game, he did make an appearance after relieving Buehler in the seventh.
Kershaw managed to get out of a jam, striking out Adam Eaton with two men on and two outs, but it only went downhill from there.
The 31-year-old allowed back-to-back home runs to Rendon and Soto in the eighth as Washington tied the game.
Heading into the series decider, Kershaw's postseason numbers as a reliever were better than as a starter, but it was a small sample size.
It seems the Dodgers' ace just cannot find his groove when the calendar flips to October.
Nationals' postseason woes finally come to an end
Washington were eliminated in the NLDS in their last four playoff appearances (2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017).
After a dramatic comeback against the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL wild-card game and a victory over the Dodgers in the NLDS, Nationals fans have to be pleased with the performance of their team, especially after a 19-31 start this season.