Final: Dodgers win Game 1 of NLDS 6-0 over Nationals

Dodgers second baseman Max Muncy runs after hitting a two-run single to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead over the Washington Nationals in the seventh inning Thursday.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Walker Buehler tosses six scoreless innings as Dodgers pitchers hold the Nationals to just two hits in a 6-0 victory in Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday.

The Dodgers win Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium.

Walker Buehler leads Dodgers to Game 1 win

The Dodgers take Game 1 easily, winning 6-0 to take the early edge in the NLDS. The Dodgers matched a postseason franchise record by allowing only two hits. Walker Buehler tossed six scoreless innings. The Dodgers offense came to life late with two runs in the seventh and eighth each.

Clayton Kershaw will face Stephen Strasburg in Game 2 tomorrow. Something to note: The Dodgers have never lost a best-of-five NLDS after winning the first game. They’ve done it six times since the NLDS was created in 1995.


Rookie Gavin Lux and Joc Pederson hit homers to push lead to 6-0

In his first career playoff at-bat, at just 21 years old, with just 23 regular season MLB appearances under his belt, Gavin Lux went yard in the bottom of the eighth inning, lining a solo home run to right field that stretched the Dodgers’ lead to 5-0.

Facing veteran reliever Hunter Strickland, Lux got ahead 2-and-1 before jumping on a fastball on the outside half of the plate.

Joc Pederson smashed a solo shot high off the foul pole down the right field line to make it 6-0 Dodgers. Pederson’s homer was scorched, with an exit velocity of 114.9 mph and expected distance of 437 feet.


Muncy extends Dodgers lead with key hit in seventh

Nationals reliever Fernando Rodney retired the first batter he was asked to get in the seventh inning. With runners on the corners and one out, the 42-year-old right-hander struck out Cody Bellinger, a left-hander, looking.

After that though, Rodney ran into trouble. He walked Chris Taylor to load the bases, then fell behind Max Muncy, another left-hander with notable platoon splits.

On a 2-and-1 count, Muncy turned on a fastball over the plate for a two-RBI single to right. Before that, the Dodgers had been 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Now, they have some breathing room for their bullpen, up 4-0 entering the eighth.


Walker Buehler shines in his six innings

Walker Buehler’s night ends after six scoreless innings. He threw exactly 100 pitches and allowed only one hit. He walked three but struck out eight. And he only allowed an exit velocity above 95 mph four times.

Buehler’s fastball was especially good. He threw the pitch, which averaged 97.4 mph, 47 times and often up in the zone. The Nationals, however, only put it in play on four occasions and swung-and-missed on nine others. Overall, Buehler drew 18 swing-and-misses and found the zone with 62 total pitches.

Including the regular season, it’s the 10th time this year Buehler tossed at least six scoreless innings in a start.


Dodgers will turn to the bullpen to preserve the lead


Howie Kendrick is having a tough time at first base

Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon made the defensive play of the game with two out in the fifth, saving a run by fielding Chris Taylor’s sharp ground-ball down the line with a dive.

A heads-up Cody Bellinger, running from first base, sped all the way to third on Rendon’s throw to first.

Max Muncy followed with a routine ground ball that went through the legs of first baseman Howie Kendrick, and Bellinger scored. Taylor was sent home by third-base coach Dino Ebel and was out easily. Still, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 2-0 seems huge the way Walker Buehler has been dominated the Nationals.


Celebrity sightings at Dodger Stadium for Game 1


Best photos from the Dodgers vs. Nationals Game 1


Both pitchers have settled in early

After a rough first inning with four balks that lead to a Dodger run, Patrick Corbin has settled down and throw two solid innings.

His counterpart, Walker Buehler loaded the bases in the fourth but was able to induce a weak tapper to the mound for the final out of the fourth.

Corbin has yet to give up a hit through three innings with five strikeouts and four walks. Buehler has matched Corbin with five strikeouts, with three walks and hit in four innings.


What are people eating at Dodger Stadium?


Cody Bellinger bobblehead is more expensive than a ticket to Game 1


Dodgers plate discipline key to first inning run

All season long, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts emphasized plate discipline. The message got through.

The Dodgers finished the season fifth in on-base-percentage and fourth in walks, the only National League team to rank among the top five in both. In the very first inning of the postseason, it paid off.

Never before in Patrick Corbin’s career, which began in 2012 and has included more than 1,100 innings, had he walked four batters in one inning.


Bobblehead and late arriving crowd causes long lines getting into Dodger Stadium


Dodgers take 1-0 lead thanks to Patrick Corbin’s wildness

We’ve all seen this in a Little League game. The starting pitcher has electric stuff that he can’t throw for a strike. But in Game 1 of the National League Division Series?

Washington Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin threw 31 pitches in the first inning, and only the 31st was hit into fair territory, an inning-ending groundout to first base by Corey Seager.

The first seven Dodgers didn’t hit the ball, yet four walked. Max Muncy’s free pass with the bases loaded pushed home A.J. Pollock for a 1-0 lead. The Dodgers might have done more damage except that David Freese and Justin Turner both struck out on sliders in the dirt.


Who will win the Dodgers vs. Nationals Game 1


Easy inning for Walker Buehler to start game

Walker Buehler had an easy first inning against the Washington Nationals with two strikeouts and an easy ground ball to Max Muncy at second base.

Buehler seemed to have all his pitches working early as he struck out Trae Turner on a high fastball and Anthony Rendon on a curveball. Buehler needed 17 pitches to get through the first inning.


Plenty of fans still outside the gates as Game 1 looms


Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo is sidelined for the entire postseason

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA MARCH 25, 2019-Dodgers Alex Verdugo hits a double against the Angels at Anaheim Stadium Monday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Four rookies are on the Dodgers’ National League Division Series roster. A fifth, Tony Gonsolin, narrowly missed the cut. But none of them were with the club from the beginning this season. The only rookie on the Dodgers’ opening day roster was outfielder Alex Verdugo.

And it sounds as though Verdugo, dealing with a back injury for a month, will not be on the roster for the end.

“As far as baseball activities, he’s really not doing a whole lot,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So to see him ready at all in this postseason, very unlikely.”


TV information for Dodgers vs. Nationals if Cards vs. Braves goes long

Don’t despair if this St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves game continues to drag. TBS just announced that the Dodgers vs. Nationals game will shift to TNT if the first game doesn’t end before the 5:37 p.m. scheduled first pitch.

The Braves currently have a 3-2 lead in the top of the 8th inning.


The mariachis are also getting ready for Game 1


Nationals’ decision to start Stephen Strasburg in Game 2 smacks of desperation

The Nationals have blinked first, and the series hasn’t even started.

In a move that smacks of panic, Nationals manager Dave Martinez announced that their Game 2 starter would be Stephen Strasburg even though Strasburg threw 34 high-leverage pitches out of the bullpen in Tuesday’s wild-card win against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The first rule of playoff baseball is that, unless it’s an elimination game, you never ask players to play out of their comfort zone. You don’t change routines. You don’t mess with roles. To suddenly change everything just because it’s October is asking for trouble.

“Today he came in, without hesitation, he says, ‘I want the ball. I’m ready to pitch. I feel great,’’’ Martinez said. “So, he’s got the ball.”

Funny, but Strasburg doesn’t sound like a guy who really wants the ball.

“Sometimes you’re going to have to deal with some things that you wouldn’t expect, and bottom line is, you still have to go out there and compete,” he said.

On Tuesday he was pitching out of the bullpen for the first time in his big league career. And now he’s going to start a playoff game on two days rest?

Here’s guessing if the Nationals win Game One against the Dodgers, the Nationals come to their senses and change the equation and start Anibal Sanchez in Game Two while giving Strasburg his regular rest.


Cody Bellinger talks about the ‘MVP’ chants at Dodgers Stadium


Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg to start Game 2 with a Game 5 in mind

Washington Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg prepares to pitch in the eighth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.
(Getty Images)

The Nationals’ decision to start Stephen Strasburg in Game 2 Friday night after the right-hander threw 34 pitches over three scoreless innings in Tuesday night’s NL wild-card win over Milwaukee was made with a potential winner-take-all game in the best-of-five series in mind.

Strasburg, considered by many Nationals followers the best pitcher in a rotation that includes three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, would be in line to start Game 5—if necessary—against the Dodgers on regular rest Wednesday night.

“Yeah, in my mind, I like the way that sets up,” Washington manager Davey Martinez said before Game 1. “It had a lot to do with it.”

Strasburg went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 33 starts this season, striking out 251 and walking 56 in 209 innings. He replaced Scherzer in the sixth inning Tuesday night and allowed two hits. Martinez likened the outing to a “34-pitch bullpen session with intensity.”

When the Nationals arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Martinez told Strasburg, “I would love for you to go Game 2, but if you think you need your five days, I get it, I understand. We can push it back. Today he came in and, without hesitation, he says, ‘I want the ball. I’m ready to pitch. I feel great.’ ”

Martinez said it was important that Strasburg make the decision.

“The biggest thing was I wanted him to come to me and I wanted him to own it,” Martinez said. “I wasn’t going to pressure him into doing anything because he’s done a lot for us already. He’s a big reason why we’re here. He came in and gave us three unbelievable innings [Tuesday]. So I wanted it to be his idea.”


Matt Kemp surfaces in Jackie Robinson jersey, wants to keep playing

One by one, the Dodgers stopped by the bench to visit the former teammate, who was on their bench in a Jackie Robinson jersey before Game 1 of their National League division series against the Washington Nationals.

Matt Kemp embraced every one of them.

“What are you doing?” Joc Pederson asked. “Throwing out the first pitch or something?”

Kemp laughed.

“Absolutely not,” Kemp replied. “That would mean I’m done.”

Kemp, 35, intends on playing next season.

In his second go-around with the Dodgers, in 2018, he was the NL’s comeback player of the year. Before the start of this season, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood. He fractured a rib colliding with an outfield wall in late April and was released by the Reds while on the injured list.

Kemp was surprised by the move.

“I wasn’t causing trouble,” he said. “They had too many options. I don’t think I was in their plans.”

He signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets, but played in only eight games for their triple-A affiliate in Syracuse.

“I still felt weird from when I broke my first rib,” Kemp said. “I was like, ‘I’m wasting your time right now. I need to go home and try to get healthy.”

Kemp returned to his home in Texas for physical therapy.

Once he recovered, he started working out at first base in an effort to make himself more attractive to teams. He received instruction from former All-Star first basemen Tino Martinez and Fred McGriff in Tampa.

“It ain’t about the money,” Kemp said. “I just love competing. I like to play baseball. You don’t think I want to be out here with my boys?”

If he wants to compete, why not pick up another sport, like golf?

“No, I like this,” he said. “It’d be different if I didn’t feel like I could go out here and contribute. I actually feel like I know I can still play.”

He playfully boasted he could play first base better than Joc Pederson, whose made a since-aborted attempt to move there.

“Don’t set the bar too high,” he was told sarcastically.

“That’s not setting the bar,” Kemp said. “That’s just being real.”

He laughed again.

Asked if he would consider playing overseas, he responded, “Like to Japan? I wouldn’t mind. I want to play baseball, man. But I want to play here first.”


Getting ready for Game 1 of NLDS between Dodgers and Nationals

Parking at Dodger Stadium isn’t cheap, but at least some of the fans attending tonight’s game will get a huge Dodgers flag to look at as they walk into the stadium.


Clayton Kershaw is indeed wearing Skechers


What can the Dodgers expect from Walker Buehler?

Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler delivers against the Colorado Rockies on Sept. 2.
(Associated Press)

What can the Dodgers expect from starter Walker Buehler tonight in Game 1 of the National League Division Series? Swagger, certainly. The 25-year-old right-hander from Vanderbilt never lacks confidence. Also, electric stuff. He’ll touch 97 mph with his fastball and sit at 96.

Occasionally, however, Buehler lacks command. Especially lately. Buehler didn’t walk more than two batters until his 18th start of the season, but he walked three or more in six of his last 13 starts. And he walked a season-high four in his last start, Sept. 27 against the San Francisco Giants.

Fangraphs projects Buehler to go 6 2/3 innings today against the Washington Nationals. He’s projected to face 27 batters and give up five or six hits while striking out seven or eight batters while walking two. The problem with this projection is that Buehler is likely to be significantly better or worse because he often pushes extremes.

He gave up five or more runs in eight of his 30 starts. He gave up zero or one run in 13 starts. So while he’s more likely to dominate than get hit hard, there’s a 27% chance he indeed gets hit hard.


A touch of romance before the Dodgers and Nationals play Game 1

How about a touch of Dodgers romance ahead of the NLDS. DJ Peters, a triple-A outfielder with the Dodgers’ Oklahoma City affiliate, proposed Wednesday to his girlfriend, Shea. Her answer is pretty clear!

Peters, a fourth-round pick in 2016 from Glendora, hit 23 home runs between Oklahoma City and double-A Tulsa in 2019.


Predictions on Dodgers vs. Nationals NLDS from LA Times journalists


Nationals announce starting lineup for Game 1


Dodgers announce starters for next two games vs. Nationals

Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch against the San Diego Padres on Sept. 26.
(Getty Images)

As he was mulling who to start in Game 2 of the National League Division Series, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts considered the bullpen too.

He knew whoever he picked to start Friday night would likely also be available as a reliever in a potential Game 5. Through that lens, his choice was easy. He went with the most experienced pitcher in his arsenal.

Clayton Kershaw will take the mound at Dodger Stadium in the second game of their best-of-five series against the Washington Nationals. Hyun-Jin Ryu, a Cy Young Award front-runner who had been the Dodgers’ best starter for most of the season but struggled with inconsistency down the stretch, will start Game 3 in Washington on Sunday.

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Dodgers set starting lineup for Game 1


Greetings from Dodger Stadium: The calm before the storm


LA Times cover to the Dodgers vs. Nationals special section


Plaschke: Excitement of another Dodgers’ postseason tempered by fear of another failure

Dodgers teammates Cody Bellinger, right, and Max Muncy, center, celebrate with Will Smith after scoring against the Giants on Sept. 29.
(Getty Images)

October is back!

Oh no, October is back.

How great that the Dodgers are in the playoffs for a seventh consecutive season!

How cruel that they might put us through another month of hell.

This could be the team that breaks a franchise record 31-year drought and wins a World Series championship!

This could be the team that finally breaks us in two.

It is with truly mixed emotions that Los Angeles again begins its annual journey into madness, embarking on a dizzying path through Chavez Ravine carved by a relentless belief in something that has thus far been rendered nonexistent.

Once again, Let’s Go Dodgers!

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Hernandez: Walker Buehler downplays Game 1 start, but it’s a big deal

Dodgers starter Walker Buehler delivers during a game against the New York Mets on Sept. 15.
(Getty Images)

From wondering aloud whether the rotation order matters to offering the opinion that people make too big a deal about who pitches when, Walker Buehler did what he could to downplay the significance of his assignment.

Buehler was chosen over Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu to start for the Dodgers on Thursday in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals.

Nothing Buehler said could obscure the magnitude of news that was announced by manager Dave Roberts on the eve of the series opener.

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Rookies Dustin May, Will Smith, Gavin Lux and Matt Beaty make Dodgers roster

Dodgers rookie Gavin Lux walks off the field during a game against the New York Mets on Sept. 14.
(Associated Press)

The Dodgers unveiled their roster for the National League Division Series on Thursday morning, and surprises were minimal.

The team, as expected, will carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers. About the only notable person left off was rookie right-hander Tony Gonsolin. Fellow rookie right-hander Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, made the roster as did veteran Rich Hill, who was deemed healthy enough to start Game 4, if necessary.

The 21-year-old May is considered a frontline starter in the future but will pitch as a reliever in the postseason. He started in four of his first five games in the majors before the Dodgers transitioned him to the bullpen for the remainder of the regular season.

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Kenley Jansen is an evolving pitcher in a familiar role: closing for the Dodgers

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is expected to be out eight to 12 weeks after undergoing foot surgery on Tuesday morning.
(Justin K. Aller / Getty Images)

The seventh consecutive division title was already clinched. Their place atop the National League standings was already sealed. The Dodgers were just waiting for October to start playing consequential games again. But they found another reason for a postgame celebration last week before the regular season came to a close.

It happened in the visitors’ clubhouse at San Diego’s Petco Park. It was low-key but meaningful. Kenley Jansen had just become the 30th pitcher in major league history to secure 300 career saves. He was the fifth to accumulate the total with one team. So when they gathered in the room after the win, teammates showered Jansen with beer, making sure to avoid splashing his freshly tightened braids.

“It was just spontaneous,” catcher Russell Martin said. “He told me after the game, ‘That’s 300.’ I was like ‘Oh ... that’s cool, man.’

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