LOS ANGELES -- Jayson Werth has always wanted to hit a homer out of Dodger Stadium. He has his share of games here -- 120 during the regular season, which includes the two seasons he spent with the Dodgers from 2004-05 -- and wondered if it was possible.Then, he crushed
LOS ANGELES -- Jayson Werth has always wanted to hit a homer out of Dodger Stadium. He has his share of games here -- 120 during the regular season, which includes the two seasons he spent with the Dodgers from 2004-05 -- and wondered if it was possible.
Then, he crushed a solo homer off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to begin the ninth inning of Game 3 of the National League Division Series, a huge insurance run in the Nationals' eventual 8-3 victory. The Nats will try to advance to the NLCS in Tuesday's Game 4 (5 p.m. ET on FS1).
Werth's homer traveled 450 feet and came off his bat at 110.5 mph, as projected by Statcast™, the longest and hardest-hit homer of the 2016 postseason.
But it still didn't leave the stadium.
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"That ball doesn't get out, I don't think I can do it," Werth said with a laugh.
Here is the on-field leader of these Nationals, on the verge of advancing in the postseason for the first time since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005, feeling relaxed and at his most productive self on the biggest stage of the year.
Werth is hitting .417/.500/.833 with a homer, two doubles and two walks during the first three games of the NLDS. He's having fun doing so as well, pumping his fist after sliding catches and banging on the rails of the dugout during rallies.
"I think after last year, with the injuries, and the way it ended and, you know, I felt like it was just like an opportunity lost," Werth said. "With getting Dusty [Baker] this year and the moves at the deadline, again, I just feel like this is -- you don't always get opportunities.
"I feel like it got taken away last year, and obviously I can't play this game forever. So I feel like this is -- I feel like this is our chance and I also feel like maybe this is my last chance to do it. For whatever reason, just been having fun."
And Werth has always thrived during the postseason. He began the day with a career .890 OPS in the playoffs and his homer Monday was the 15th of his postseason career, the fifth most among active players and tied for 11th most all-time with Babe Ruth.
"He's able to slow his heart rate down in big situations like that," second baseman Daniel Murphy said. "You can go back to situations this year, really high-leverage situations, that's when he puts on his best at-bats."
Werth recalled a conversation with Murphy about the postseason, when Werth asked Murphy about playing in the World Series. They agreed playoff games "are the only games to really play for," even if they were left exhausted from how invested and how much energy they spend locked in on every single game.
And last week, Werth offered some insight into his mind during the postseason that despite a sold-out crowd of 53,901 fans at Dodger Stadium, he feels "eerily calm" inside his head.
"It's strange, you'd think that they got all this buzz and you're going to have all this excitement, but for whatever reason, maybe because it's the postseason, but it's eerily calm," Werth said. "You'd think it would the opposite, but it's not. You find yourself out there and you're like, 'Why am I so calm?' That's just how it is, at least thats how it is for me.
"That's why it's so eerie, I feel like my heart should be beating really fast, it's not, I'm calm. I think it's, you play all year, you play your whole life and you get to this game and your focus is even more then you'd ever think it was."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.