WASHINGTON -- With Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg looming on the series horizon, it wasn’t just Nationals Game 1 starter-turned-reliever Patrick Corbin who appeared in the sixth inning Sunday night.
“The Dodgers showed up in the sixth inning,” Enrique Hernández said after contributing to a record-breaking seven-run blitzkrieg with two outs in a 10-4 win over the Nationals for a 2-1 lead in the National League Division Series, with Russell Martin, Justin Turner and Max Muncy homering.
In the current 2-2-1 format of the Division Series, teams to take a 2-1 lead have gone on to win the series 39 of 52 times (75%). In all best-of-five series, teams to take a 2-1 lead have gone on to win the series 61 of 84 times (73%). And in Division Series in the current 2-2-1 format, teams to be up 2-1 heading into Game 4 on the road have won the series 20 of 28 times (71%). Those series have ended in four games 16 times.
The Dodgers came completely out of their patient approach against Corbin in a Game 1 win, wildly chasing sliders in the dirt, then chased Strasburg curveballs in a Game 2 loss. With a second look at Corbin, they unleashed the juggernaut offense they featured during a 106-win season, providing a mathematical and emotional lift for the second time they see Scherzer and, potentially, Strasburg. Martin and Hernández had two-run doubles and Turner a three-run homer.
“It’s huge,” said Hernández. “They got Scherzer going tomorrow, and we’re on the road. It’s not the same being down 2-1 on the road with Scherzer on the mound than being up 2-1 on the road with Scherzer on the mound. If there’s a Game 5, we’re going home. It’s huge, and I like our chances.”
Corbin allowed two-run doubles to Martin and Hernández, before Turner slugged a three-run homer off Wander Suero, Turner’s first since Sept. 3. Turner also doubled and singled and is third on the franchise postseason home run list with eight, trailing Duke Snider (11) and Steve Garvey (10). Martin added a two-run homer off Hunter Strickland in the ninth.
“I think seeing [Corbin] just the other night helped out some guys that weren’t able to pick up on the spin and pick up motion of it,” said Muncy. “Still one of the best ones out there, but guys were able to make the adjustment to go after ones in the zone and lay off ones in the dirt.”
All seven runs in the sixth inning scored with two outs, tying the postseason record for most two-out runs scored in an inning according to STATS, a mark set by the 2007 Red Sox and matched by the 2010 Giants. The seven runs were the most in a postseason inning in franchise history.
David Freese beat the shift with a two-out single, becoming only the fourth player (and first since Johnny Blanchard in 1960) with three hits off the bench in a postseason game.
“We never doubt ourselves,” said Freese. “You can’t doubt yourselves against a team like the Nationals, because they’re certainly not doubting themselves. Hopefully we come out tomorrow and get it done, but tonight was good, to come into his house and kind of start off slow but get it going.”
Cody Bellinger, who started the sixth inning with his first hit of the series (he later doubled), reflected the Dodgers’ confidence facing Scherzer on Monday night.
“We know what he’s got,” said Bellinger. “We’ve faced him a few times and we know he’s going to be crazy on the mound, staring at you. You have to be ready for it. It’s going to be a fun game.”
The sixth inning helped paper over a disturbing and continuing trend of Dodgers strikeouts, 15 in Game 3 after 17 in Game 2 and 12 in Game 1. The Dodgers also overcame a shaky start by Hyun-Jin Ryu, who allowed a first-inning walk and home run, leaving with a 2-1 lead after five innings.