For the Dodgers and Nationals, it's all come down to this -- a winner-take-all Game 5 of their National League Division Series in Washington tonight (8 p.m. ET/5 PT on FS1). The winner gets to face the Cubs; the loser watches the rest of the postseason from home.The matchup has
For the Dodgers and Nationals, it's all come down to this -- a winner-take-all Game 5 of their National League Division Series in Washington tonight (8 p.m. ET/5 PT on FS1). The winner gets to face the Cubs; the loser watches the rest of the postseason from home.
The matchup has all the makings of a must-watch. The Nationals, looking for the franchise's first postseason series win since moving to D.C. and playing in front of their home crowd, send ace and NL Cy Young Award front-runner Max Scherzer to the mound. But his opponent is no slouch: Dodgers left-hander Rich Hill, who will be coming back on three days' rest with his team's season on the line.
Both pitchers will have their work cut out for them, too, facing lineups with some of the game's most dangerous hitters. The Dodgers will face Daniel Murphy -- their October nemesis -- Bryce Harper and Trea Turner. Scherzer runs up against Corey Seager, who homered off him in Game 1, Justin Turner and Adrián González.
• The most dramatic Game 5s in Division Series lore
:: NLDS: Dodgers vs. Nationals coverage ::
Before Los Angeles and Washington add another chapter to October lore, MLB.com takes a look back at Division Series history when everything has come down to a deciding fifth game:
• Nationals-Dodgers is the 27th Division Series pushed to a winner-take-all Game 5 in the Wild Card era, covering almost a third of the 88 total Division Series played. Heading into Thursday, it's happened 16 times in the American League and 10 times in the NL. The visitors have won 15 of the 26 showdowns.
(Note: There were also best-of-five Division Series played in 1981, due to a strike-shortened season that was split into two halves, each with its own division champions. The modern Division Series was first played in 1995, the first full season played with the Wild Card.)
• The Nationals and Dodgers both have recent history in a five-game Division Series -- and both fell short of advancing. Last season, the Dodgers lost to the Mets at Dodger Stadium thanks to Murphy's tiebreaking home run off Zack Greinke. In 2012, the Nationals lost a heartbreaker to St. Louis -- a game they led 6-0 after three innings and 7-5 entering the ninth.
The only other time for either franchise was in the strike-shortened 1981 season. The Dodgers beat the Astros en route to a World Series title, and the Expos beat the Phillies but lost to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series.
• The Cardinals' six-run comeback against the Nats in 2012 was also the biggest comeback for any winner-take-all postseason game in Major League history. Many of the Nationals who played in that game -- Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, Gio Gonzalez -- are still with the team.
• No Dodgers player has ever hit a home run in a Division Series Game 5. Harper and Zimmerman homered in 2012.
• The Yankees have played in seven, more than any other team. (The A's are second, with six.) Not surprisingly, Derek Jeter is the player with the most appearances, having played in six of those seven series finales.
• By game score, the top pitching performance was by Justin Verlander for Detroit in 2012 against the A's. He threw a four-hit shutout, walking one and striking out 11 -- good for a game score of 89. The second-highest game score? Also Verlander, who the next year dominated the A's once again.
• Verlander was only the second pitcher to throw a shutout, and no one's done it since. The first was the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter, a year earlier when he outpitched the Phillies' Roy Halladay in a brilliant 1-0 pitchers' duel. Rafael Furcal led off the game with a triple, Skip Schumaker followed with an RBI double, and the scoring was done.
• On the offensive side, three players have hit multiple home runs: Carlos Beltrán in 2004, and Jim Thome and Troy O'Leary -- in the same game in 1999. Beltran's two-homer, 4-for-5, 5-RBI game led the Astros to a win over the Braves, while O'Leary's Red Sox prevailed over Thome's Indians. O'Leary's grand slam and three-run homer gave him seven RBIs, a record for a postseason game (also done by three other players). But that game's most memorable moment was Pedro Martinez's legendary six-inning, no-hit performance in relief to close out the Tribe.
• Beltran's four hits in that 2004 game are tied for the most by any player, matched by only Jason Giambi in the A's loss to the Yankees in the 2001 ALDS -- the series featuring Jeter's iconic flip in Game 3, as New York overcame a 2-0 series deficit.
• Only twice has there been extra innings, most recently in the 2011 NLDS between the Brewers and D-backs. Milwaukee walked off in the 10th inning, with Nyjer Morgan singling home Carlos Gómez. In 1995, the Mariners and Yankees went to the 11th inning at the Kingdome. Seattle walked off, too, on a double by Edgar Martinez that brought home Ken Griffey Jr. in the longest Game 5 in Division Series history by time, at four hours, 19 minutes. Randy Johnson got the win despite giving up a run in the top of the 11th.
• The only other walk-off hit came in 2001, when the D-backs' Tony Womack singled home pinch-runner Danny Bautista to defeat the Cardinals.
• Five teams have gone on to win the World Series: the 2000 Yankees, the 2001 D-backs, the 2011 Cardinals, the 2012 Giants and the 2015 Royals.
• The youngest to play in Game 5 of a Division Series is Harper, who was 19 years, 362 days old in 2012. Last season, Seager was 21 years, 171 days old, the seventh-youngest. If Julio Urías were to pitch Thursday for the Dodgers, he would become the youngest pitcher at 20 years, 62 days days old.
• The oldest to play is Julio Franco, who was 45 years and 43 days old when playing for the Braves in 2003 vs. the Cubs. He broke his own mark that night, having set the record in 2002 against the Giants, when he was 44 years, 45 days old (also with the Braves).
• There has only been one pinch-hit home run, by the Yankees' David Justice against the A's in 2001. The homer was a solo shot off of Oakland's Tim Hudson in the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium in a 5-3 New York victory.
David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.
Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyRsports.