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Dodgers Dugout: Breaking down the Game 1 victory over Nationals

Dodgers left fielder Joc Pederson
Dodgers left fielder Joc Pederson reacts after scoring on a 2-RBI single from Max Muncy against Washington Nationals in the 7th inning of Game 1 of the NLDS.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los AngelesTimes)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and games that last over three hours aren’t so bad when the Dodgers win.

Breaking down Game 1

--It was great to see the Dodgers being patient, drawing walks and working to count. It was only a matter of time before someone came through with a big hit, especially when the Nationals brought Fernando Rodney into the game. Rodney is to postseason leads what lighter fluid is to charcoal.

--The Dodgers’ patience allowed them to get to the Nationals’ bullpen, which was one of the worst bullpens in baseball this season. That patience is how they won 106 games and how they can win 10 more.

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--If Game 1 Walker Buehler shows up throughout the playoffs, the Dodgers won’t need to worry as much about whether Clayton Kershaw, great pitcher, or Clayton Kershaw, OK pitcher, shows up each start.

--I know that Kenta Maeda‘s contract has heavy incentives based on what he does as a starter. I understand he prefers to start. But if he ever went to the bullpen full time, he’d make a lot of money. The difference between starter Maeda, who nibbles at the corners, and reliever Maeda, who goes right after hitters, is remarkable.

--All of you who wanted to trade Gavin Lux for Felipe Vazquez, it’s OK, you are forgiven.

--I don’t think I’ve ever seen a batter hit a foul ball to the top of the stadium parallel to first base until Joc Pederson did it in Game 1.

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--Max Muncy is clutch. End of statement.

--I’m not sure why Nationals reliever Hunter Strickland decided throwing the same pitch to Pederson a million times in a row was a good idea, but hey, keep up that line of thinking for a couple more games at least.

--If Joe Kelly pitches like that all playoffs, then things are looking good.

--A lot of people wondered why Adam Kolarek was on the postseason roster. That three-pitch strikeout of Juan Soto is why.

--OK, I’m going to be honest here. I feel terrible about this, but was I the only one looking at that two-run lead in the seventh inning and already getting nervous about Kenley Jansen? I know he is the best closer in team history, but this is the world we live in now.

--I was a bit surprised the Dodgers went with Kershaw in Game 2 instead of Hyun-Jin Ryu since Ryu has been much more effective at home than on the road this season. But, this does allow the Dodgers to bring Kershaw back in relief in Game 5 if necessary, plus, Ryu is very effective when he gets more than five days of rest (a Game 3 start would be on seven days’ rest). On six-plus days of rest, Ryu is 4-1 with a 1.18 ERA in eight starts.

--Nationals outfielder Juan Soto on Buehler’s outing: “For me, it’s the same Buehler I’ve been seeing this season. It’s nothing special. He’s really good but he don’t have anything different for me.” And Soto had a lot of time to think about it while walking back to the bench after striking out.

--The TBS announcing team was, let’s just say, less than exciting. I think they had two color analysts, but they both sounded alike and barely spoke. And when they did speak, it was to offer great insight like “This is a key situation.” At least they weren’t biased against the Dodgers, so I’ll take them over Joe Buck. But guys, you’re not calling The Masters here.

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--Also, were the TBS cameras and production truck being operated by cats? The picture was jerky, kept stuttering. There were weird camera shots of nothing. It must have been “Bring Your Cat to Work Day.”

--When you watch the game, keep an ear out for Dodger Stadium organist Dieter Ruehle, who is a musical genius as far as picking the appropriate song for a situation. It’s worth watching the games just for that alone.

--Of course, the patient offense and great win means nothing when Game 2 gets underway. They have to do it all over again. Against Stephen Strasburg. That’s not going to be an easy task. The Dodgers will send Kershaw to the mound.

The Cody Bellinger postseason tracker

Game 1: 0 for 2, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1 run scored

NLDS: 0 for 2, 1 walks, 2 strikeouts, 1 run scored

Career postseason: .169 (20 for 118), 5 doubles, 4 homers, 13 RBIs, 10 walks, 47 strikeouts

Bullpen postseason tracker

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Game 1: 3 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts

NLDS: 3 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts

Alex Verdugo

For those of you hoping to see Alex Verdugo in the NLCS (if the Dodgers advance), we’ve got some bad news for you:

“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.”

The final NLDS roster

No surprises as far as the position players. For the pitchers, Dustin May and Ross Stripling grabbed the final two bullpen spots, beating out Tony Gonsolin and Caleb Ferguson. Teams can adjust their roster between series, so we could see Gonsolin and/or Ferguson in the NLCS.

Marlins Man

A lot of you emailed me to ask what was the deal with the guy wearing the bright orange Marlins shirt behind home plate in Game 1. Here’s the story:

His name is Laurence Leavy and he’s 62 years old. He first came to prominence during a nationally televised Miami Heat NBA game in 2012. The Heat had left white Heat T-shirts on the seats before the game as part of their “whiteout night,” hoping all their fans wearing white would look cool on TV. Leavy had a seat behind one of the backboards. Unfortunately, his seat didn’t have a white T-shirt on it, so he kept wearing what he had on already: A bright orange Marlins jersey. He stood out among the sea of white and quickly became a social media sensation.

Since then, he has shown up at random sporting events, always in a prominent location, always wearing a bright orange Marlins shirt. People on social media started calling him “Marlins Man.”

As you can probably guess, based on where he sits, Leavy has a lot of money. He owns a workers’ comp firm and owns over 100 thoroughbred horses. He also gives back to those less fortunate, donating many “Marlins Man” jerseys to be auctioned off for charity. He has many followers on his Twitter and Facebook page and often will buy drinks for those sitting around him at games, since he can at times be a distracting presence.

If you noticed during Game 1, many people were fist bumping and high fiving him. He seems to be just an exuberant sports fan who loves to travel to big games and get on TV.

You can find out more about him by clicking here.

The Dodgers vs. Stephen Strasburg

No, this isn’t the title of a bad TV courtroom drama, it’s simply a list of how current Dodgers (including those not on the postseason roster) have fared against the Nationals’ Game 2 starter:

A.J. Pollock: .500 (7 for 14), 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer

Russell Martin: .500 (3 for 6)

Matt Beaty: .500 (1 for 2)

Jedd Gyorko: .412 (7 for 17), 2 doubles, 1 homer

Justin Turner: .286 (4 for 14), 2 homers

Kiké Hernandez: .222 (2 for 9), 2 homers

Cody Bellinger: .133 (2 for 15), 1 double

David Freese: .091 (1 for 11)

Joc Pederson: .091 (1 for 11), 1 homer

Corey Seager: .083 (1 for 12), 1 homer

Chris Taylor: .063 (1 for 16)

Max Muncy: .000 (0 for 10)

Will Smith: .000 (0 for 2)

Alex Verdugo: .000 (0 for 3)

Team: .196/.291/.405, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 8 homers

Strasburg is 3-5 with a 2.54 ERA against the Dodgers lifetime and 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA against them this season.

Clayton Kershaw vs. the Nationals

Trea Turner: .375 (6 for 16), 1 double

Ryan Zimmerman: .353 (12 for 34), 2 doubles, 1 homer

Gerardo Parra: .317 (13 for 41), 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer

Michael Taylor: .313 (5 for 16), 3 doubles

Howie Kendrick: .286 (6 for 21)

Matt Adams: .286 (4 for 14), 1 double, 1 homer

Anthony Rendon: .280 (7 for 25)

Asdrubal Cabrera: .250 (3 for 12), 1 homer

Adam Eaton: .111 (1 for 9), 1 triple

Kurt Suzuki: .100 (1 for 10)

Wilmer Difo: .000 (0 for 5)

Brian Dozier: .000 (0 for 3)

Juan Soto: .000 (0 for 1)

Yan Gomes: .000 (0 for 2)

Victor Robles: .000 (0 for 2)

Team: .260/.298/.372, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 4 homers, 12 walks, 58 strikeouts

Kershaw is 12-3 with a 2.23 ERA against the Nationals lifetime and 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA against them this season.

Dodgers poll

We asked: “Who will win this NLDS and in how many games?” After 2,270 votes, here are the results:

Dodgers in 4, 59.5%

Dodgers in 5, 25.6%

Dodgers in 3, 7.1%

Nationals in 4, 4.3%

Nationals in 5, 3.5%

Nationals in 3, no votes.

NLDS schedule

All times Pacific

Game 1: at Dodgers 6, Washington 0

Game 2: Tonight at Dodgers, 6:30 p.m., TBS, AM 570

Game 3: Sunday at Washington, 4:45 p.m., TBS, AM 570

Game 4*: Monday at Washington, 2:15 p.m. (if Atl-StL series is over) or 3:40 p.m. (if Atl-StL series is still going), TBS, AM 570

Game 5*: Wednesday at Dodgers, 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m., TBS, AM 570

*-if necessary.

In case you missed it

Read all our coverage and sign up for our Dodgers newsletter for even more analysis:

Brash Walker Buehler sets tone for Dodgers, who begin playoffs with decisive win

Inning-by-inning recap of Game 1

Bill Plaschke: Nationals look overwhelmed in playoff opener against Dodgers

Dylan Hernandez: Dodgers’ bullpen dominates while Nationals’ relievers capitulate

Alex Verdugo likely sidelined for the entire postseason

Howie Kendrick’s errors and Patrick Corbin’s walks cost Nationals in loss

Dodgers’ Adam Kolarek makes the most out of his long-awaited postseason debut

And finally

Highlights from Game 1. Watch it here.

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston. Subscribe to this newsletter by clicking here.


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