Washington Nationals force Game 5 with statement victory

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: Stephen Strasburg
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 11: Stephen Strasburg /
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Nats forced Game 5

With their statement victory in Game 4, the Nats forced a decisive Game 5. Many experts predicted that the series would go five games, but the Nats appeared to be on the brink of elimination on numerous occasions.

Fortunately, they have survived and the series will come down to a winner-take-all game tonight.

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As of Wednesday night, the Nationals had not yet named a starting pitcher, but Dusty Baker said it will most likely be either Gio Gonzalez or Tanner Roark. Baker also mentioned that ace Max Scherzer should be available out of the bullpen.

Whoever starts for the Nats will be opposed by Kyle Hendricks, who shut down the Nats in Game 1. Opposing Hendricks is a tall task, but the Nats offense should fare better against Hendricks this time around.

The Nats were extremely passive at the plate in Game 1, but they should have learned their lesson and come out swinging tonight. They have also seen Hendricks recently, which should be beneficial.

The Nats have yet to advance past the NLDS since returning to DC in 2005, and Game 5 struggles have played a big role in that.

Five years ago, to the day, the Nats played against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS. The Nats jumped on the Cardinals early, building a 6-0 lead in the first three innings. The bullpen eventually melted down, and the Nats lost the game 9-7.

Last year’s NLDS against the Dodgers also went five games. Again, the Nats got a lead early, scoring a run in the second. However, another bullpen meltdown cost them the game, as Scherzer, Marc Rzepczynski, Blake Treinen, Sammy Solis, and Shawn Kelley combined to allow four runs in the seventh.

People say that the third time’s the charm, and this is the Nats’ third time playing an NLDS Game 5 at home in the last five years. Hopefully, they are able to finally win one and advance to the first NLCS in team history.

Next: Is Baker's job on the line?

With the Nats down 2-1 in the series, Game 4 was a must-win. Fortunately, they pulled it off and forced a Game 5. There are many possible takeaways from their statement win, but Stephen Strasburg’s dominant start, Trea Turner recording his first hit of the series, the Cubs’ shaky bullpen, Dusty Baker reverting back to the original batting order, and the Nats forcing a Game 5 are among the most intriguing.