In a do-or-die Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS, Washington Nationals rallied back from a 3-1 deficit against the Los Angeles Dodgers to tie the game and send it into extra innings. Nats second baseman Howie Kendrick crushed a grand slam in the top of the tenth inning to put the Nationals ahead for good.

Howie Kenrick Washington Nationals grand slam upset NLDS LA Dodgers
An enthusiastic Washington Nationals 2B Howie Kendrick rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam in extra innings to eliminate the LA Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS at Dodger Stadium. (Image: Marcio Jose Garcia/AP)

The Nationals held on to the victory to clinch the NLDS and advance to the NLCS this weekend. The Nationals will now face the St. Louis Cardinals in a best-of-seven series.

The Los Angeles Dodgers won 106 games this season with a specific goal to return to the World Series for a third consecutive year after losing to the Houston Astros in 2017 and to the Boston Red Sox last year. The Dodgers were one of the favorites to win the 2019 World Series. At the start of the postseason, the Dodgers were 5/2 odds to win the title.

The Dodgers blew a 2-1 series lead in the NLDS. They had a chance to put away the Nats in Game 4, but Max Scherzer had other plans. Old Man Max held the Dodgers to one run and the Nationals extended the series to a fifth and final game.

Early Knocks on Strasburg

All eyes were on a duel between Walker Buehler and Stephen Strasburg. The Nats Starsburg had never allowed a home run in the postseason until now. He gave up two dingers in the first two innings and the Nationals fell behind 3-0.

The Dodgers knocked around Strasburg in the first inning and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Max Muncy crushed a 3-1 fastball to right-center for his third home run of the NLDS.

Strasburg got tagged again in the second inning. Kiki Hernandez led off the bottom of the second with a solo home run to put the Dodgers ahead 3-0.

Buehler… Buehler… Kershaw

Buehler held the Nationals to two hits over the first five innings. The Nats finally got on the board in the top of the 6th inning. After a leadoff double from Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto drove him home with an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-1.

Clayton Kershaw began to warm up in the middle of the 6th, but Buehler got through the rest of the inning with a double play and a strikeout. Buehler came out to pitch the top of the 7th inning. With Buehler scheduled to hit second in the bottom of the inning, Dave Roberts trusted him with three more outs.

Buehler only got two.

Roberts pulled Buehler after 6.2 innings after he allowed two runners with an HBP and walk. Buehler finished the night with one earned run, 4 hits, 7 strikeouts, and 3 walks. With seven Ks, Buehler became the first pitcher in MLB history to strike out at least 7 batters in his first 6 postseason starts.

Kershaw Collapse

Clayton Kershaw trotted to the mound amidst a thunderous applause for a relief stint in the top of the seventh inning. The triple Cy Young winner struck out Adam Eaton on three pitches and the Dodgers killed the rally with two runners on base.

Dave Roberts let Kershaw pitch the 8th inning instead of Kenley Jansen. Rendon and Soto smacked back-to-back home runs off Kershaw to tie the game 3-3. A stunned crowd fell silent as Soto rounded the bases and the Dodgers squandered the lead.

Game 5 headed into extra innings after the Dodgers were unable to score against Washington relievers Patrick Corbin and Dave Hudson. After getting on the scoreboard in the first two innings, the Nationals shutdown the Dodgers the rest of the game.

Free Baseball, Kendrick Salami

Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly got in trouble in the top of the tenth and the Dodgers empire quickly collapsed. He walked Adam Eaton and then gave up a ground-rule double to the red-hot Anthony Rendon. Kelly intentionally walked Juan Soto to load the bases for 2B Howie Kendrick, who was 0-4 at that point.

Howie Kendrick made Kelly pay by destroying a fastball to deep centerfield. Kendrick busted the game wide open with a 410-foot grand slam.

“He had been throwing a lot of breaking balls, but for some reason, I just had a gut feeling I should look for a fastball,” said Kendrick.

The grand slam by Howie Kendrick did not even land before half of the fair-weather LA crowd started making their way for the exit. The Nats took the lead 7-3 and never looked back. The Dodgers had no fight left in them in the bottom of the tenth. The do-or-die game ended with the Nationals celebrating a NLDS victory in a near-empty Dodger Stadium.

“As you all know, we were 19-31 at one point and turned this thing around,” said manager Davey Martinez. “This group is resilient, they won’t quit until the last out, and they play hard every single day.”

The Washington Nationals now head to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals in the 2019 NLCS. The Cardinals scored ten runs in the first inning to win their NLDS elimination game against the Atlanta Braves.

According to William Hill, the Washington Nationals are 3/1 odds to win the World Series.