By Will Beverina
Two home runs let up by Max Scherzer were too much for the Washington Nationals to overcome, as they dropped game one of the National League Division Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-3, on Friday evening.
The much anticipated matchup of Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw turned out to be the deciding factor of the game, just not in the way that was expected. Both aces gave up every run for their respective teams, while the bullpens of the Nationals and Dodgers shined on the night.
The scoring started when Scherzer, prone to giving up home runs this year, allowed rookie Corey Seager to go yard on him in the first inning. The solo shot gave LA a 1-0 lead early.
Kershaw looked up to the task initially, mowing down Washington batters with three strikeouts in the first inning, and even touching 97 MPH with his fastball.
Scherzer seemed to have composed himself with a strong second inning before he once again allowed another home run in the third inning. After a Chase Utley RBI-single made the score 2-0, Justin Turner hit a fly ball to center field. The 2-run shot gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead in the top of the third.
Washington made an effort to come back. With Kershaw already up to 40 pitches after the second inning, the Nationals continued to chip away at him, eventually coming up with two runs in the third when Anthony Rendon sent a line drive to left field that allowed Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper to score. With the lead cut to 4-2 and Kershaw now at 66 pitches after three innings, the game looked attainable for Washington.
That feeling only escalated when a Trea Turner sacrifice fly in the fourth inning allowed catcher Pedro Severino to score. The 4-3 cut to the deficit had Kershaw looking human, and it looked like the Nationals had a chance after his outing was cut short in the fifth.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers bullpen was up for the moment, blanking Washington in four scoreless innings. The Nationals weren’t without their chances, however. The hometown team was 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, a stat that was particularly ugly when Danny Espinosa racked up three strikeouts with six runners on base. The 4-3 score would stand, and Washington now finds itself in a hole with game two approaching.
The second game of the series will be at 4:08 p.m. on Saturday at Nationals Park. Tanner Roark and Rich Hill are the starters for Washington and LA, respectively.