The Los Angeles Dodgers are off to the NLCS after finishing off the Washington Nationals with an amazing Game 5 victory that included Game 4 starter Clayton Kershaw coming in to nail down the save.
The Dodgers got all four of their runs in the seventh inning after they were being held in check by Nats ace Max Scherzer through six. The big swing of the inning came from Justin Turner, as he smoked this two-run triple off Nats reliever Shawn Kelley:
But, the Nats scored two runs themselves in the bottom half of the seventh, and in the bottom of the ninth were threatening vs Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen who was on his third inning of work. Jansen understandably was running out of gas, and at pitch no. 51 (a career-high) with runners on first and second, Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts pulled Jansen… in favor of Kershaw.
This was nothing short of stunning, as Kershaw just threw 110 (max effort) pitches TWO DAYS AGO. But in an elimination game, Roberts decided it was worth the risk and put Kershaw in to face Nats star hitter Daniel Murphy. Kershaw got Murphy to pop out, and then clinched the series victory for the Dodgers with this strikeout of Wilmer Difo:
After the game, FS1’s Jon Morosi was interviewing Jansen and Kershaw, and Kershaw cut it off in awesome fashion, saying, “Alright, Kenley’s the best closer in the game; we’ve got some champagne to pop!”
So, the Dodgers will now face the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, with Game 1 set for Saturday night at Wrigley Field. It will be interesting to see if Kershaw being used tonight will impact what game he is started in the series, as it was previously assumed he’d be able to go Game 2 on Sunday.