Tyler Kepner, who covers baseball for The Times, has a dispatch about this evening’s matchup in Los Angeles:
Ahead of the action today, Dave Roberts could appreciate the scene that is set to unfold at Dodger Stadium: two ace pitchers, one for his Dodgers and one for the Washington Nationals, in the decisive game of the best-of-five National League division series.
“Game 5, win or go home, Buehler-Strasburg — those guys are premier pitchers in this league,” said Roberts, the Dodgers’ manager. “As a fan, as a player, you live for moments like this.”
The Dodgers and the Nationals have alternated victories in this series, with Walker Buehler winning the opener for Los Angeles and Stephen Strasburg the second game for Washington. Both aces rested as the teams split in D.C., setting up a finale in the shadows (first pitch: 5:37 p.m. P.S.T., televised by TBS).
The winner will meet the Atlanta Braves or the St. Louis Cardinals in the best-of-seven N.L. Championship Series starting Friday. The Dodgers, who had the N.L.’s best record at 106-56, will host Game 1 if they advance.
Strasburg has given up one run in nine innings this October, with 14 strikeouts and no walks. Buehler has fired 13 shutout innings in his last two postseason starts, allowing only three hits. If he falters, Clayton Kershaw will be ready in relief.
“The thing that’s kind of lost in playoff baseball is that it’s really fun,” Buehler said. “The pressure and things like that, if you spin it in your head the right way, it can make it more fun.”
As fun as baseball can be, it has also been cruel to the Dodgers and the Nationals, consistent winners in the regular season who always fall short in October. The Dodgers have the most victories in the majors across the last eight seasons, with 757. The Nationals rank second, with 730. Yet neither franchise has captured a championship in that time.