Stephen Strasburg
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Stephen Strasburg dominates Dodgers in NLDS Game 2 victory

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Just one day removed from a painful Game 1 shutout in Los Angeles, the Nationals picked themselves back up with a decisive 4-2 victory over the Dodgers on Friday. Thanks to a tremendous effort from Stephen Strasburg and several key plays by Anthony Rendon and Asdrubal Cabrera, they held the NL West contenders at bay long enough to even the National League Division Series, 1-1.

With All-Star hurler and former three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw pitted against former All-Star Stephen Strasburg, Game 2 of the NLDS promised a bonafide pitcher’s duel — and it didn’t disappoint. Kershaw went six strong innings, scattering three runs, a walk, and four strikeouts in his first postseason outing since he pitched back-to-back losses in the 2018 World Series.

The only thing missing was some pivotal run support, something even Kershaw couldn’t muster as Juan Soto robbed him of a line drive base hit with a terrific diving catch. Try as they might, the Dodgers just couldn’t get ahead of Strasburg, who one-upped Kershaw’s efforts with six innings of one-run, 10-strikeout ball. According to MLB Stats, his lights-out performance cemented him as the only pitcher in MLB history with 10+ strikeouts in three of his first four playoff appearances. He also beat out Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax’s record for lowest postseason ERA (0.64 to 0.95, minimum four starts).

The Nationals’ offense, meanwhile, kept them a step ahead of their rivals after they broke out for an early lead. Howie Kendrick plated a run with an RBI single in the top of the first inning — his first postseason RBI since the 2015 NLDS (when, funnily enough, he collected three RBI for the Dodgers) — while Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the second. The Dodgers eventually spoiled Strasburg’s shutout in the sixth, as Justin Turner eked out a sac fly to get the team on the board and Max Muncy followed up with a solo shot off of Sean Doolittle in the seventh, but it wasn’t quite enough to bridge the gap.

After Doolittle wrapped the seventh inning, the Nationals tabbed Game 3 starter Max Scherzer for a rare relief appearance in the eighth. He did so with aplomb, whiffing Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, and Joc Pederson in order and preserving the club’s tenuous two-run lead. In the ninth, he was swiftly replaced by Daniel Hudson, who allowed a leadoff double, intentionally walked the tying run, and loaded the bases before finalizing the win with a game-ending strikeout to Corey Seager.

Los Angeles will look to regain its foothold in the series on Sunday, when lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu will begin Game 3 at 7:45 PM EDT. Given Scherzer’s last-minute appointment on Friday, it’s unclear whether he’ll be sent back out for another full outing on Sunday. If so, it’ll mark his first formal start since the NL Wild Card Game, during which he claimed his first win after tossing five innings of three-run, six-strikeout ball against the Brewers.

Larry Walker to wear a Rockies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque

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I guess this came out the day he was elected but I missed it somehow: Larry Walker is going to have a Rockies cap on his Fall of Fame plaque.

While it was once solely the choice of the inductee, for the past couple of decades the Hall of Fame has had final say on the caps, though the request of the inductee is noted. This is done to prevent a situation in which a cap truly misrepresents history. This issue arose around the time Wade Boggs was inducted, as he reportedly had a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to pick their cap on his plaque which, to say the least, would’ve been unrepresentative.

There have been some mildly controversial picks in the past, and some guys who would seem to have a clear choice have gone with blank caps to avoid upsetting the fan base of one of his other teams, but Walker’s doesn’t seem all that controversial to me.

Walker played ten years in Colorado to six years in Montreal and two years in St. Louis. His numbers in Colorado were substantial better than in Montreal. His MVP Award, most of his Gold Gloves, most of his All-Star appearances, and all of his black ink with the exception of the NL doubles title in 1994 came with the Rockies too. Walker requested the Rockies cap, noting correctly that he “did more damage” in a Rockies uniform than anyplace else. And, of course, that damage is what got him elected to the Hall of Fame.

Still, I imagine fans of the old Expos will take at least some issue here. Those folks tend to be pretty possessive of their team’s old stars. It’s understandable, I suppose, given that they’ve not gotten any new ones in a decade or two. Add in the fact that Walker played for the 1994 Expos team onto which people love to project things both reasonable and unreasonable, and you can expect that the Expos dead-enders might feel a bit slighted.

Welp, sorry. A Rockies cap is the right choice.  And that’s Walker’s cap will feature.