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Max Scherzer Shuts Down Dodgers as Nationals Cruise to Win; Force NLDS Game 5

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 07: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals delivers in the sixth inning of game four of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park on October 07, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Nationals preserved their season for at least another game and avoided a familiar National League Division Series fate in the process.

Washington evened its series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at two apiece with a 6-1 victory in Monday's Game 4 at Nationals Park. The Nationals are attempting to avoid a fifth NLDS loss in the last eight years and can thank Max Scherzer and Ryan Zimmerman for pushing the series back to Los Angeles.

As for the Dodgers, they will now need to win at home if they are going to reach their fourth straight National League Championship Series.

         

Notable Player Stats

  • Max Scherzer: seven innings pitched, one earned run, four hits, three walks and seven strikeouts
  • Ryan Zimmerman: 2-for-4, one home run, three RBI and one run
  • Anthony Rendon: 1-for-2, three RBI and one run
  • Trea Turner: 3-for-5 and two runs
  • Rich Hill: 2.2 innings pitched, one earned run, two hits, four walks and two strikeouts
  • Julio Urias: 0.2 innings pitched, three earned runs, three hits, zero walks and zero strikeouts
  • Justin Turner: 1-for-4, one home run, one RBI and one run

            

Nationals Legends Preserve the Season

The Nationals are trying to make history with their first playoff series victory since the move to Washington, and it only feels right the franchise heroes were the ones to put them on the verge of doing just that.

Washington will only go as far as its starting staff considering the team finished dead last in the league in bullpen ERA this year, and giving the ball to Scherzer in Game 4 and Stephen Strasburg in Game 5 is quite the formula for success.

Christopher Crawford @Crawford_MILB

Max Scherzer is just going to stand on the mound if there's a rain delay. He dares you to put the tarp over him.

The duo worked together in Game 2 with Scherzer striking out the side in relief in the eighth after Strasburg allowed one run in six innings, but the former did all the heavy lifting Monday. The three-time Cy Young winner and seven-time All-Star was brilliant again, rising to the moment with key strikeouts that played off the crowd's energy and setting the tone in the elimination scenario.

He saved his best for last, battling at over 100 pitches in the seventh inning to strike out Chris Taylor and retire Joc Pederson with the bases loaded to preserve the lead.

Washington wasn't going home with Scherzer on the mound with even a semblance of run support, and Nationals legend Zimmerman provided one of the most memorable moments of his career.

MLB @MLB

The Franchise. #NLDS https://t.co/I7hMvTl0Bz

Thomas Boswell @ThomasBoswellWP

Before G4, Zim said, "I plan on playing more games. I feel like a lot of people think I'm not going to play more games. But I feel good. I feel like I can still be very productive beyond this year." Talk about a "contract push!" (Never too old for 10-minute goosebumps.)

Thomas Boswell @ThomasBoswellWP

This is why they play baseball. Ryan Zimmerman, unseen for months, consigned by some to MLB scrap heap, blasts monstrous 5,000-foot high --too high to see at its peak-- 3-run homer onto CF grass through stiff crosswind that shoulda KOed it. Instead, LAD on the deck, down 5-1 (5).

The first baseman has been in Washington his entire career dating back to 2005 and looked like the prime version of himself when he launched a three-run homer into the night sky to cap off a four-run fifth inning that broke the game open. It was the turning point after Anthony Rendon—who has also been with the Nationals his entire career—drove in the first two runs.

Washington Nationals @Nationals

Anthony Rendon led @MLB in RBIs this season with 126. Anthony Rendon has 3 RBIs in Game 4 of the NLDS. BOTTOM 6 // #Nats 6, Dodgers 1 https://t.co/9DQ9apDpiE

Nationals on MASN @masnNationals

You'll never believe what just happened .......................................... .......... ................. ........ ......... Wait for it .... ......... .......... ............................ ......... ........ .......................... ........... Rendon recorded an RBI! https://t.co/1bLAajlHqz

Rendon (.319/.412/.598 with 34 homers and 126 RBI) carried the offense all season after the loss of Bryce Harper and gives the Nationals a one-two punch with Juan Soto that could win a decisive game in Los Angeles.

If they do, Scherzer will have another chance to show off his brilliance in this postseason.

          

Dodgers' Impressive Season Will Once Again Be for Nothing with One More Loss

The Dodgers can match up with anyone on paper with the threesome of Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but Rich Hill was something of a question mark heading into the playoffs.

While he finished with a formidable 2.45 ERA, he made just 13 starts and is 39 years old. He didn't have much in the tank Monday and struggled with his command before he was pulled in the third inning after allowing a run and leaving the bases loaded.

The bullpen couldn't lock it down from there, and that, along with a disappearing act from the offense outside of Justin Turner's solo homer in the top of the first, means the Dodgers will be under immense pressure in Game 5.

Los Angeles Dodgers @Dodgers

Start it off, @redturn2! https://t.co/zkhtDpJAlB

They were the ones with the massive payroll who finished with a National League-best 106 wins. They are the ones looking to reach a third straight World Series and attempting to finally parlay one of these impressive regular seasons into their first championship since 1988.

A first-round loss would be seen as nothing short of a spectacular failure and bring many of the same questions that have haunted this franchise in recent years.

There is no doubt which side will feel the pressure with the series on the line.

           

What's Next?

The series shifts back to Los Angeles for a decisive Game 5 on Wednesday.

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