The Washington Nationals may be allergic to their own home stadium in the postseason.

It seems that way after they dropped the opening game of their National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Nats were on the wrong end of a 4-3 decision, as they were unable to push across the tying run after closing a four-run deficit to one run in the fourth inning.

In the other National League series, the Chicago Cubs are attempting to build off their series-opening 1-0 win over the San Francisco Giants as they send ace Kyle Hendricks to the mound against former Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija in Game 2.

The Nationals have a 1-4 record at home in three different postseason series since the franchise relocated from Montreal following the 2004 season. They have to find a way to reverse that in order to avoid going down 0-2 prior to playing Game 3 in Los Angeles.

How? They need to jump out to a lead in the first few innings so they don’t have to rally back against the powerful Los Angeles bullpen.

Kenley Jansen is one of the best closers in the game, and he is that unit’s headliner, but the Dodgers have the weapons in the pen to hold onto a lead at any point once they get past the five-inning mark.

That will require some productive at-bats from Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy. The Nats did not get an RBI from any of those three players in Game 1, and that has to change in Game 2 and beyond.

The Dodgers received early home runs from rookie phenom Corey Seager and Justin Turner, and that gave Clayton Kershaw an early lead. Since the Dodgers were able to solve flamethrower Max Scherzer, they should be confident against Saturday’s starting pitcher, Tanner Roark.

Scherzer blamed himself for allowing those home runs. 

“It’s pitch execution,” he told Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post. “I’m accountable for that, and I’ll shoulder that, and I’ll take the blame for that. I know I’m capable of executing pitches at a higher level, and I’ve got to do it.”

The Dodgers will have tricky left-hander Rich Hill on the mound, and while his pitches often look hittable, he can be difficult to decipher. 

Roark went 16-10 this season with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP. The 36-year-old Hill pitched 34.1 innings this season for the Dodgers after coming over from the Oakland A’s, and he had a 1.83 ERA and a 0.786 WHIP in that span.

Prediction: The Nationals need this game and have the steady Roark on the mound. However, they are pressing and won’t be able to do much against Hill. Look for the Dodgers to squeak out a 2-1 victory and take a 2-0 lead to Los Angeles.


San Francisco at Chicago

Javier Baez’s eighth-inning home run was enough to give Jon Lester and the Cubs a 1-0 victory over Johnny Cueto and the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS opener at Wrigley Field.

“That’s classic playoff baseball in the National League right there,” catcher David Ross told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. “There was going to be good pitching; we knew that coming in. That’s a really good team.”

Look for more hitting from the Cubs in Game 2 against Samardzija, who does not have the same kind of command that Cueto or Madison Bumgarner has for the Giants.

Samardzija went 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA, but the Cubs should be able to solve him. Expect NL MVP candidate Kris Bryant and slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo to join Baez by contributing on offense.

On the other hand, the Giants will not have an easy time against the overachieving Hendricks. He led baseball with a 2.13 ERA this season and features three different changeups that can be rough on hitters.

The Giants don’t have a home run-hitting lineup, as Brandon Belt led the team with 17 dingers. If they are going to rally, they will need to string hits together, but that doesn’t often happen against Hendricks.

Prediction: After facing Cueto in Game 1, the Cubs are going to find their hitting stroke against Samardzija. The former Cubs pitcher is unlikely to be as sharp as his counterpart, and the Cubs will take advantage of his mistakes.

Even if the wind is blowing the other way, the Cubs will find the seats and come away with a 5-3 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series.

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