The Nationals head into the late innings of NLDS Game 1 down 4-3, but accomplished one of their goals: getting Clayton Kershaw out of the game early.
After Kershaw started the game out hot, striking out the side in the first inning, Nats hitters went to work on the All-Star lefty. They scored three runs off him on eight hits over five innings, working his pitch count to 101 — the most he's thrown since his return from a back injury in September.
For most other pitchers, that's a modest-but-not-terrible pitching line. But this is Kershaw, who doesn't give up much of anything. Friday night was the first time he allowed three or more runs since June 26, before his injury. And with the Nats down 4-0 by the third inning, found a way to to claw back against the best pitcher in the game. However, they were just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position against him, with the lone hit an Anthony Rendon two-out, two-run single in the third inning.
All things considered, knocking Kershaw out of the game before the sixth inning is a victory. But the offense has to keep the pressure on the Dodgers bullpen.
The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018.
Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.
Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.
The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.
Only the Marlins have had as many.
"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."
"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand."
The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.
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While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news.
Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report.
Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:
"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."
"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.
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