The Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers both entered Game 5 of the National League Division Series searching for an end to postseason failure. The Dodgers' minds were on a World Series Championship, after two seasons of reaching the Fall Classic and coming up short. The Nationals were looking for just their second postseason series win as a franchise.
The Dodgers, dominant all season long to the tune of a National League best 106 wins, looked the part early. Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler pitched wonderfully, allowing just 1 run over 6 and two-thirds innings of work. Nationals starter Stephen Strausburg struggled through 6 innings, allowing Los Angeles to take a 3-1 lead heading into the latter third of the game.
2nd Baseman Max Muncy opened the scoring with a 2 run homer in the bottom of the 1st, followed by an Enrique Hernandez solo home run in the bottom of the 2nd, to electrify the Los Angeles home crowd.
Carrying a 3-1 lead into the 7th, 3-time Cy Young Award Winner Clayton Kershaw entered the game in relief for the Dodgers. He recorded the final out of the 7th inning, his only recorded out on the night. Entering the 8th inning, the two hottest bats in the Nationals order were due up in 3rd Baseman Anthony Rendon and Left Fielder Juan Soto. Both came through in the clutch with back-to-back 400+ foot blasts to tie the game at 3.
A stunned crowd watched as an equally stunned Kershaw was withdrawn from the the game. Unlike the other decisive Game 5 on the day, this game would go to extra innings.
The Dodgers sent out Joe Kelly to try and slow down the red hot Nationals in the top of the 10th, but he found no such success. Right fielder Adam Eaton was walked, Rendon followed with a double, and Soto was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs. Nationals 2nd Baseman Howie Kendrick stepped to the plate and smashed a 410 foot grand slam to give the Nationals a 7-3 win.
The Wild Card winning Nationals' remarkable postseason run continues as they head to the NLCS for just the 2nd time as a franchise. With the win, they became the first team in major league history to rally from three or more runs down twice in elimination games during the same postseason. For the Dodgers it was more postseason frustration for a club that has made it to the postseason 7 consecutive years, and come away empty-handed each time.