The Nationals Stay Alive In NL Division Series

The Washington Nationals stayed alive in a spot where most everyone had written them off. The St. Louis Cardinals got a leg up in the pivotal game of their series. Here’s a brief look back at the Game 3s of the NL Division Series that went down last night.

Washington 4 San Francisco 1: After the Nationals lost the first two games at home, they were left for dead. And the odds are still pretty strongly against them, but the rationale was that they had to face Giants’ ace Madison Bumgarner in Game 3. What that analysis failed to consider is that Washington starter Doug Fister is pretty good too.
Bumgarner pitched well—very well in fact—but for six innings, Fister matched zeroes with him. And in the seventh, it was the Frisco lefty that finally broke. With runners on first and second, a sac bunt was put down. Bumgarner forced a throw to third base and threw it away, clearing the bases. Washington got three runs in the inning, and Bryce Harper hit a home run for some insurance.
BaseballSt. Louis 3 LA Dodgers 1: John Lackey can still pitch in October. He did it for the Boston Red Sox last year, and did it several times for the Los Angeles Angels before that. Last night, it was seven strong innings for the Cards.
Then the bottom of the St. Louis lineup came through—Kolten Wong hit a two-run shot in the eighth. When it comes to unlikely people to hit a game-winning home run in the playoffs, Wong is almost as unlikely as Ozzie Smith, the shortstop who hit the walkoff in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS between these same two teams (this is the home run that inspired broadcaster Jack Buck to say “Go crazy folks, go crazy,” a clip often played on postseason montages.
But it’s one thing to get a big hit out of a light-hitting middle infielder at the bottom of the order. It’s another to hit him leadoff. That’s what Dodger manager Don Mattingly is doing with Dee Gordon. The second baseman is fast and a good defender, but also one of the least productive offensive players. Yet, he’s batting leadoff.
Do you really want to go down with a lineup that assures Dee Gordon will bat more frequently than any other player? Move up Yasiel Puig, drop Gordon down and win or lose with your best. Gordon is batting .154 for the series.
Mattingly will win or lose with his best when it comes to the pitching. Unsurprisingly, Clayton Kershaw will come back on short-rest for the late afternoon start today. If the Dodgers win, Zack Greinke does the same on Thursday in Los Angeles.
St. Louis sends Shelby Miller to the mound to try and clinch in a game that starts at 5 PM ET. The Nationals-Giants starts right after that, with San Francisco sending Ryan Vogelsong against Washington’s Gio Gonzalez. Both games are on Fox Sports 1.