Scherzer ea­ger to take mound in de­ci­sive tilt

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Stephen Whyno AP Sports Writer

WASH­ING­TON >> While go­ing to ace Clay­ton Ker­shaw on short rest helped the Los An­ge­les Dodgers stave off elim­i­na­tion in their NL Divi­sion Se­ries against the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als, it also has raised the ques­tion:

Who will start Game 5 for the Dodgers?

“I know Ker­shaw isn’t pitch­ing,” Na­tion­als man­ager Dusty Baker said. “Thank God.”

While there will be no Ker­shaw and LA man­ager Dave Roberts still has not named his starter, the Na­tion­als will hand the ball to Cy Young Award can­di­date Max Scherzer in the de­ci­sive Game 5 at home Thurs­day night.

With a spot in the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries against the Chicago Cubs at stake, Scherzer is the man Wash­ing­ton wants on the

mound and he’s em­brac­ing the pres­sure.

“I’ve kind of said over the past few days, I’ve said that a hand­ful of times through­out my ca­reer, ‘Hey, this is the big­gest start of my ca­reer,”’ Scherzer said Tues­day. “How you han­dle that, go­ing out there us­ing the emo­tion of that sce­nario, that ev­ery­thing is on the line, look, I’m not go­ing to shy away from it. This is the big­gest start of my ca­reer.”

Scherzer (20-7, 2.96 ERA) lasted only six in­nings and lost Game 1 after giv­ing up home runs to Corey Sea­ger and Justin Turner. While Scherzer is look­ing for some redemption, the Dodgers are look­ing for­ward to an­other shot at him.

“I mean, we beat him once al­ready,” first base­man Adrian Gon­za­lez said. “We put some pretty good at­bats against him in Game 1, and we’re con­fi­dent that we can do that again.”

The Na­tion­als also had some good at-bats against LA lefty Rich Hill, beat­ing him in Game 2. Hill (12-5, 2.12) will most likely be the Dodgers’ starter in Game 5, though Roberts will use a “col­lec­tion of arms” and could quickly turn to fresh 20-year-old lefty Julio Urias if there’s trou­ble.

Wash­ing­ton’s bullpen has been strong, but Scherzer is in the spot­light.

“I know who Max is and how he goes about it,” right fielder Bryce Harper said. “I think there are things we can do in the bullpen, as well, if Max doesn’t get to the ninth. He’s got a lot of help. So hope­fully we’ll get a cou­ple of runs early and do what we can to stay with our ap­proach and stay within our­selves (and) just have a lot of fun.”

Scherzer con­sid­ers the big stage plenty of fun. He said it doesn’t mat­ter that it’s not him against Ker­shaw again and ex­pects the Dodgers’ best ef­fort and a charged at­mos­phere.

“It’s go­ing to be a heck of a ball­game,” Scherzer said.

“These are two great teams. We’ve seen great pitch­ing, we’ve seen great of­fense, great bullpens, clutch hit­ting. We’ve seen it all. So the op­por­tu­nity to go out there in Game 5, back in D.C. with our fans, it’s go­ing to be a heck of an ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Some other things to watch in Game 5 between the Dodgers and Na­tion­als:

Left, left, left

The Dodgers can trot out a lineup of seven left­handed bat­ters, start­ing with Chase Ut­ley and Sea­ger and con­tin­u­ing down to Gon­za­lez, Joc Ped­er­son, switch-hit­ting catcher Yas­mani Gran­dal and An­drew Toles. That’s a pow­er­ful crew that can do dam­age if Scherzer makes even a cou­ple of mis­takes.

Murph-to­ber

Na­tion­als sec­ond base­man Daniel Mur­phy has picked up where he left off last Oc­to­ber with the New York Mets. Mur­phy is 6 for 13 with six RBIs in the se­ries but has yet to hit a home run. He had seven

in the play­offs last year, in­clud­ing three against the Dodgers.

Bullish ‘pen

Na­tion­als re­liev­ers have com­bined to al­low two runs on 10 hits in 14 2/3 in­nings in the se­ries. Left­ies Sammy So­lis, Marc Rzepczyn­ski and Oliver Perez have flum­moxed the Dodgers, who de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion for strug­gling against left-handed pitch­ers.

Bad aim, not blood

Pitch­ers have com­bined to hit 11 bat­ters through four games, the most in a play­off se­ries in ma­jor league his­tory. That’s not be­cause things have been chippy. “I think our guys have done a lot of break­ing balls to the left­ies and caught their feet,” Scherzer said. “That’s just base­ball. No one on ei­ther side is try­ing to hit any­body with ev­ery­thing on the line right now.”

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