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Aníbal Sánchez carries Nationals to 2-0 win over Cardinals in NLCS Game 1

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The Nationals have seen all varieties of wins and losses through their first seven games of the 2019 postseason. There have been shutouts, like their 6-0 defeat in Game 1 of the NLDS, blowouts, like their 10-4 loss in Game 3, and nail-biters, like the stunning 4-3 win that allowed them to squeeze past the Brewers in the Wild Card playoff. On Friday, they marked their postseason campaign with an even more satisfying win, grabbing the series lead with a 2-0 victory over the Cardinals in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

This time, the charge was led by veteran right-hander Aníbal Sánchez, who marked his second start of October with 7 2/3 no-hit innings against St. Louis. Sánchez was nearly untouchable, wielding a pitch count of 103 and allowing just three baserunners on a walk and two HBP before giving up his first base hit on an eighth-inning single to José Martínez. Even after that moment — one that was swiftly followed by Sánchez’s removal from the mound — the Cardinals couldn’t catch a break, and Dexter Fowler grounded out to end both the inning and any last-minute rally the club might have mounted.

Behind the combined efforts of Sánchez and closer Sean Doolittle, the Nationals became the first team to allow just one hit in a postseason game since the Tigers nearly no-hit the Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2013 ALCS. The offense propped up the pitchers’ efforts with a pair of runs to get the team across the finish line, too: Howie Kendrick and Yan Gomes orchestrated the first run of the NLCS with a pair of doubles in the second inning, and Kendrick’s RBI single gave the Nationals a little bit of a cushion to work with in the seventh.

With the win, the Nationals take a 1-0 lead in the series, with at least three games still left to play. Game 2 of the NLCS is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, when right-handers Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright are scheduled to go toe-to-toe at 4:08 PM EDT.

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.

Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.