Best and worst moments from the Nationals’ comeback win against the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park.
Worst déjà vu: Just like on Friday, the Nationals got off to a rocky start against NL Rookie of the Year favorite Corey Seager. Making his first postseason start, Tanner Roark’s first pitch was a flyout and the second went wild just over Seager’s head. Seager then smacked a solo homer — again, just as he did in his first at bat in Game 1 — out to right center. Things got a little eerie when Rich Hill struck out the side in the bottom of the inning — as Clayton Kershaw did Friday.
Worst command: After nearly hitting Seager in the first inning, Roark hit Andrew Toles to load the bases and prompt a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux for some calming words. Roark started the game throwing 16 strikes and 15 balls, unusually erratic for the right-hander, but he struck out Hill and induced Chase Utley to ground out to first to get out of the second inning unscathed. Roark’s 4 1/3 innings were uncharacteristic, at best.
Worst couple of innings: The Nationals had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the second inning when Jose Lobaton grounded into a double play. In the top of the third inning, Lobaton couldn’t hang on to Bryce Harper’s throw from right field, allowing Justin Turner to score on Josh Reddick’s single.
Best first hit: Baby-faced rookie Trea Turner got his first postseason hit, a lumbering, 73-mph single to center field. The outfielder has the potential to be a catalyst for Washington in these playoffs after batting .342 with 105 hits, 13 of which were homers, and a .567 slugging percentage in 73 games during the regular season. He’s maturing faster than expected in his first year in the pros.
Best momentum swing: Jose Lobaton more than made up for his earlier gaffe by blasting a three-run homer out to left field to put the Nationals on the board, 3-2, in the fourth inning. He’s just the second catcher in Nationals’ franchise history with a postseason home run, but that might not be surprising given Lobaton’s history in the playoffs. Three of his nine career playoff at-bats have been hits, and two have been home runs. This one got the crowd at Nats Park on its feet, and gave Washington’s offense its first sign of life all afternoon.
Best stranding runners in scoring position: Jayson Werth and and reliever Marc Rzepczynski unleashed a couple of emphatic “now we’re cooking” fist pumps after Werth made a sliding catch in the top of the fifth inning to send the Dodgers off with bases loaded and preserve the Nationals’ one-run lead. Los Angeles was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position through the fifth inning, having loaded the bases with one out three times. It ended the game 1-for-9.
Best Murphy moment: There were many, but none better than in the bottom of the fifth when Daniel Murphy singled to send Turner — who had stolen second base to get in scoring position — home. The run also sent Hill back to the clubhouse and made it 4-2 in favor of the Nationals. The “MVP” chant rang out in Nats Park for the first time this postseason. Murphy ended the game three-for-three with a walk, a run and two RBI.
Worst windblown hair: If ever there was a player designed for windy games it’s Jayson Werth, he of flowing locks and semi-unbuttoned jersey. The outfielder provided another highlight in the seventh inning by knocking a two-out double to get in scoring position with Murphy on deck. Murphy singled to send Werth home, the entire sold-out crowd basking in his fluttering (probably very tangled) tresses.
Best bullpen: The Nationals’ once-faulty bullpen was solid after Roark left in the fifth inning. Through 4 2/3 innings the bullpen allowed no runs, one hit, three walks and struck out five. They’ve pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the first two games of the series.
Best repeated history: The broadcast team from Fox Sports 1 dropped this tidbit minutes before the Nationals sealed their comeback win: The last time a Washington baseball team came from behind to win a postseason game was exactly 91 years ago Monday. That was Game 3 of the 1925 World Series against eventual champions Pittsburgh, a game Washington won, 4-3.
Best father-son bonding: Former Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche threw out the first pitch Sunday to his son Drake. The Nats even played LaRoche’s old Jason Aldean walk-up song, and the pair got a standing ovation at Nats Park.
Worst turnaround: The Nationals will play the Dodgers in Los Angeles at 1 p.m. PST thanks to a Red Sox rainout at Fenway Park. That’s a tight schedule — just 23 hours from the end of the game in Washington to first pitch across the country.
This post has been updated.