WASHINGTON – With all of that October experience, no wonder Justin Turner and the rest of the Los Angeles Dodgers managed to produce a postseason inning unlike any other: seven runs, all scored with two outs and two strikes.
Turner’s three-run homer capped a startling and record-setting rally in the sixth as the Dodgers roughed up $140 million starter-turned-reliever Patrick Corbin and beat the Washington Nationals 10-4 on Sunday night to grab a 2-1 lead in their NL Division Series.
Russell Martin and pinch-hitter Kike Hernandez added a pair of two-run doubles in the sixth as LA became the first team in major league history to score that many two-out, two-strike runs in one postseason inning. Martin tacked on a two-run homer in the ninth.
The Dodgers can advance to the NL Championship Series for the fourth consecutive year by closing the best-of-five NLDS in Game 4 at Washington on Monday, when LA sends Rich Hill to the mound against Max Scherzer.
And to think: Things were not looking all that good for the Dodgers, who entered the sixth trailing 2-1 after Juan Soto’s two-run homer off eventual winner Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first and Max Muncy’s solo shot off Washington starter Anibal Sanchez in the fifth.
That seemed to wake up LA’s offense.
Well, it was either that or the fact that Sanchez, who struck out nine, was gone to begin the sixth. In came Corbin, the lefty who started – and lost – Game 1 of the NLDS and hadn’t made a relief appearance since 2017, when he only made one.
It continued Nationals manager Dave Martinez’s penchant for pushing his starters to appear in relief in the playoffs, which had been deemed necessary because of his club’s NL-worst bullpen – and had been working.
Needless to say, not this time against the Dodgers, who lost in the World Series each of the past two years and led the league with 106 wins in 2019, 13 more than the Nationals.
After Cody Bellinger snapped his 0-for-8 start to the series with a single, Corbin struck out the next two hitters. That’s when it all fell apart for Washington.
Pinch-hitter David Freese, the MVP of the 2011 NLCS and World Series for St. Louis, singled to put runners on the corners for LA. Then Martin came through in his first game of this NLDS, hitting a two-run double on a 2-2 slider that landed on the warning track in left-center, putting the visitors ahead 3-2.
Hernandez connected on a 1-2 slider from Corbin for yet another two-run double to left-center, making it 5-2 with a hit off the base off the wall.
After Muncy was intentionally walked, Corbin departed, replaced by Wander Suero, who promptly served up a full-count fastball that Turner lofted to the back of the visiting bullpen beyond left field.
Suddenly, it was 8-2, and with baseball’s ERA leader this season, Ryu, done after going five innings and allowing two runs, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pieced together the remaining 12 outs with five relievers.
That included closer Kenley Jansen, who hadn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 28, and threw a 1-2-3 ninth Sunday, including a pair of strikeouts.
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