NEW YORK — The Dodgers, appearing to ease slowly toward their playoff life-and-death showdown with the Nationals in Washington, are becoming faceless inscrutable machines as they defeat the Braves, 8-2, in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
On the fourth pitch of the night, two-time MVP Clayton Kershaw — as befitting a horse of his caliber — flattened Nick Markakis on a high fastball, then fanned the next five Braves in succession. The five-hit inning for Kershaw, who struck out 10, was the Dodgers’ 11th run in 22 playoff innings.
Outfielder Yasiel Puig started that inning with a walk. Kershaw then singled, and when Austin Barnes came up in the seventh with a runner on first and two out, Kershaw clapped his hands to signal a potential double-play grounder.
Fortunately for Barnes, Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz sailed the ball into left field, and the runners moved up to second and third. Then the Dodgers suddenly sent 16 batters to the plate, scoring six runs, getting three hits and two walks.
The Dodgers’ lead in the NL championship series is now 2-0, and the danger is real.
Washington returns home to the nation’s capital on Saturday afternoon in Game 3, and if the Nationals win, they will advance to their first World Series since 1933, the year before the original franchise left Washington and moved to Los Angeles. The players are already unperturbed.
“We haven’t really listened to the stuff that’s been around the league — what the ‘experts’ think, that kind of stuff,” the pitcher Max Scherzer said on Friday before the game. “But we’re playing good baseball, and we’re going to try to stay positive and stay confident.”