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Nats, Cardinals win elimination games on the road

The Washington Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals are headed to the National League Championship Series. We break down the two stunning road upsets to close out the NLDS.

Washington Nationals celebrate in the locker room after they defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in game 5 of the National League Division Series at Nationals Stadium in Washington, CA on October 9, 2019. Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The two National League Divisional Series each went five games, and we had two road teams offer stunning upsets to advance to the National League Championship Series. The St. Louis Cardinals blew out the Atlanta Braves early, while the Washington Nationals shocked the Los Angeles Dodgers late.

The Cardinals ended Game 5 before most people had settled into their seats. They put up a record ten runs in the first inning en route to a 13-1 victory. They did not hit a single home run, but seven of the first eight and ten of the first 13 batters reached base in the first inning. Freddie Freeman’s error opened the floodgates, and while the Dodgers hammered the Mike Foltynewicz, we’ll always wonder how things might have gone if Freeman had made the play. Meanwhile, Jack Flaherty went six innings and gave up one run on four hits and struck out eight in the easy Cardinals victory.

Later in the evening, the Nationals required extra innings to upset the favored Dodgers. LA jumped on Stephen Strasburg early, putting up three runs in the first two innings. The Nationals couldn’t get anything going against Walker Buehler until a run in the sixth inning. Clayton Kershaw came on in relief in the seventh to strike out Adam Eaton with two on. However, in the eighth, he gave up back-to-back home runs to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto to tie the game.

The Dodgers got a man on in the ninth and hit a pair of hard-hit balls, but both were right at Nationals outfielders, and we were off to extra innings. The Nationals pounced in the tenth inning. Adam Eaton walked, Anthony Rendon doubled, and Juan Soto was intentionally walked to load the bases. On an 0-1 count, Howie Kendrick hit a gran slam to center, and was all she wrote. Sean Doolittle set down the Dodgers in order in the bottom half of the inning and the Nationals had finally ended their playoff series futility. The Nationals became the first team in major league history to rally from 3+ run deficits twice in playoff elimination games.

The National League Championship Series gets going on Friday, October 11th when the Cardinals host the Nationals. First pitch is set for 8:08 p.m. and will air on TBS.