That cliché proved to be true.
LA’s opponent in the divisional series was the Washington Nationals. The Nats had never made it out of the DS in four tries since moving from Montreal in 2004 but enjoyed a feel-good regular season. Despite losing star slugger Bryce Harper in free agency they won 93 games and the NL wildcard after a slow start.
The top 3 in the Nationals rotation were as good as any in the National League. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasberg and Patrick Corbin could dominate on any given night but LA felt confident with a record setting lineup.
Game 1 went to script with the Dodgers winning. Several troubling trends emerged as the series wore on. Game 5 will haunt True Blue Nation until that championship drought ends. The Dodgers season was hanging by a thread and Kershaw’s playoff legacy was sealed. Despite winning 3 Cy-Young awards and an MVP, he is 9-11 with a 4.43 ERA in the postseason. His ERA in the NLDS is 3.99, in the NLCS it raises to 4.61 and in the World Series it balloons to 5.40.
Joe Kelly pitched a scoreless 9th and young Dodger catcher Will Smith almost won it with a near walkoff home run that died at the warning track. Kelly was still on the mound when Howie Kendrick stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the 10th inning. Kolarek and Jansen watched from the bullpen as Kendrick delivered a grand slam that eventually sent Washington to the next round and LA to next year.
Kendrick’s blast was a redemption story after a forgettable series by the infielder. It was the end of an unforgettable sequence of events in those fateful 8th, 9th and 10th innings for the Dodgers.
Roberts will return as manager despite his questionable decisions in the postseason but the front office will look to make changes between the lines. Even with 106 regular season wins and the third longest playoff appearance streak at 7 years, the Dodgers wait for another championship continues.