On a day when the wind gusted through Nationals Park at an estimated 25 m.p.h., hitting left field and threatening to limit any potential damage by right-handed batters like Justin Turner and Jayson Werth, Jose Lobaton hit his first home run of the postseason.
Lobaton struck in the fourth inning on a 1-1 Rich Hill curveball, driving in Daniel Murphy and Danny Espinosa to take the lead 3-2 in the fourth inning. According to Statcast, the pitch was barreled 102.6 mp.h. off the bat, good for 394 feet in the left bleachers. Not only was it the first lead the of the Nationals’ 2016 playoff run, but it marked just the second time that a Nationals’ batter hit a three-run jack in postseason history.
The last and only batter to hit a three-run postseason homer for the Nationals was outfielder Jerry White. Tied 1-1 in the 1981 NLCS, White went yard in the sixth inning against Los Angeles hurler Jerry Reuss to clinch Game 3 for the Montreal Expos. The Expos went on to lose the NLCS in five games, while the Dodgers eventually clinched the World Series against the Yankees in six.
The Nationals currently lead the Dodgers 4-2 in the sixth.
“We haven’t had many games like this,” Dodgers manager Dave Robert said after last night’s loss to the Yankees. That’s for sure.
There were no wild walkoff hits. There were no home runs by Dodger batters. There were two, including a grand slam, from Didi Gregorius, however, and he and New York batters pounded Hyun-Jin Ryu, perhaps the stingiest pitcher in baseball this year, for seven runs on nine hits in four and a third as the Yankees beat the Dodgers 10-2 in Dodger Stadium.
Aaron Judge, who has been slumping something terrible, opened up the scoring with a solo home run in the third. Two batters later Gary Sánchez matched him with a blast of his own. An A.J. Pollock RBI single in the bottom half of the inning made it a 2-1 game but after that the Yankees stepped on the gas with a five-run fifth highlighted by a Didi Gregorius grand slam. Gleber Torres would homer in the sixth, Judge would single home a run in the eighth and Gregorius would strike again in the ninth with a solo homer for his second blast of the night. That one gave the Yankees 57 bombs in the month of August, which sets a team record. There’s still a week left in August too.
As for the Dodgers, Ryu was uncharacteristically rusty, though it probably should be noted that this was his second poor outing in a row. struggled through his second straight sub-par outing. The last time out he lost to Atlanta. allowing all four Braves’ runs in 5 2/3 innings as the Dodgers fell 4-3. His ERA came in to this game at a still-MLB-best 1.64, but those seven runs in fewer than five — his shortest outing in nearly two months — puffed it up to an even 2.00.
The Yankees scored just nine runs in their three losses in Oakland. Last night they beat that by one. And they brought themselves to within one game of the Dodgers for the best record in all of baseball, which would determine home field in the World Series should these two powerhouses meet.
For now, though, Roberts is limiting the implications of all of this to Friday night, saying “fortunately, it only counts for one loss.” Yep. But man, it was an ugly one.