LOS ANGELES — This time that year, walk-off hits room the ingredient of legend, once-in-a-lifetime moment of triumph. They inspire grown males to leave their feet and also jump because that joy. They stun the stoic right into tears. However rarely, if ever, perform they qualify as mere relief.

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But between the leaping and the hopping and the hugs that followed Chris Taylor’s walk-off homer Wednesday night, that is specifically what resolved in over the Los Angeles Dodgers, because that whom a ns in the wild-card game would have actually qualified as an agonizing disappointment.


That swing provided the Dodgers a 3-1 win over the St. Luigi Cardinals and broke one innings-long deadlock between a team that was claimed to be below all along and also one that appeared here ~ a stunning September win streak. The Dodgers will certainly now challenge the san Francisco Giants in a best-of-five division series start Friday night, ensuring the a team considered one the the sport’s finest would not be undone by the quirks that the current playoff format.


The Dodgers won 106 games, most ever before by a non-division winner — or, put another way, the most wins ever by a team relegated to a one-game wild-card playoff. In critical year’s expanded playoff format, or the one that may be coming if MLB and also the players’ union agree to it this winter, the Dodgers wouldn’t have seen their totality season based on the whims the one October night. But it was, and also they made it through it.


“I just love the way coming right into this game, understanding we had actually a integrated excuse as far as a one-game playoff elimination game, we were ready to success a ballgame,” Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said.


The relief prolonged to Taylor, too. The 2021 all-star had actually struggled so much in the season’s second half that he was dropped indigenous the beginning lineup versus Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright on Wednesday night, despite Roberts said over and over before the video game that the team would need him at some suggest like they had actually in year past. Taylor has been a clip of this Dodgers run, the type of versatile defender and steady offensive producer with which they have lined your lineup for fifty percent a decade.


But ~ making his very first All-Star video game this summer, Taylor hit .228 in August and .121 in September, “grinding,” as his manager placed it before the game. So he satellite Wednesday, waiting his turn, i beg your pardon came when Roberts sent out him come left ar in the seventh. The made many tough records there prior to his at-bat in the ninth, which came against hard-throwing Cardinals reliever Alex Reyes — and also ensured the Dodgers’ outstanding season didn’t melt away on one fluky October evening.


“It felt great to come through,” Taylor said. “Especially after ~ the last pair months, it’s to be a grind because that me. Obviously, i haven’t been play the best. To come with in the nine felt really, yes, really good.”


Analysis: The Dodgers make the right contact to pull Max Scherzer, and also that’s a shame


The Dodgers have actually made the playoffs for nine straight seasons. They only fell quick of the National league Championship series once in the previous six years. The year, 2019, the Washington Nationals beat them in the department series. This year, in require of reinforcements, the Dodgers ceded two promise prospects because that two crucial pieces of that Nationals team, future hall of Famer Max Scherzer and MVP candidate Trea Turner.


Those two, and an especially Wednesday night’s starter Scherzer, ended up being so main to the fate of the Dodgers (and the trajectory of this playoffs) over the past few months that Scherzer’s old teammate Juan Soto make the expedition to Los Angeles come sit behind house plate v their mutual agent, Scott Boras. The wore Turner’s No. 7 Nationals jersey and also his 2019 World collection ring. Nationals hitting coach Kevin long joined that in the prior row, attract a Scherzer Nationals jersey to ensure same representation.


“When you success a civilization Series, you develop a friendship and bond it is going to last a lifetime. For those 2 guys, Soto and K-Long, to it is in there, that mirrors you the type of love that it take away to win a people Series,” Scherzer said.


Juan Soto, who links baseball’s past, present and also future, could readjust the game


Their presence was a reminder of how fresh Scherzer’s ties to the Dodgers tho are and how lot his brand-new team has foisted top top his shoulders in such a brief time. After ~ longtime ace Clayton Kershaw’s late-season elbow injury, Scherzer suddenly finds himself as the anchor the a rotation to which he has belonged for mere main — and also to which huge expectations have actually been attached every year.


The pesky Cardinals gotten in Wednesday night with far less press as a team recognized for speed, defense, contact and all the things everyone concerns slid the end of baseball fashion for good. Lock scored very first when 2nd baseman Tommy Edman flipped a Scherzer breaking ball right into right field for a leadoff single, stole second, progressed on a deep flyball, climate scored as soon as Scherzer bounced a slider in front of catcher will Smith, that couldn’t block it. Edman scampered home, and the Dodgers trailed immediately. The press was on.


Analysis: Baseball teams provided to follow the Yankees. Now new York is law the chasing.


The Cardinals ongoing to put males on against Scherzer, inning after ~ inning. That was never able to establish his secondary pitches, relying mainly on his fastball and slider to cave in there till his command resurfaced. In his first 11 starts with the Dodgers, Scherzer never walked more than 2 batters. That walked two in the an initial two innings Wednesday, together Wainwright hosted the Dodgers down.


“We didn’t win,” Wainwright said afterward. “But we came in here and made them real nervous.”


After Justin Turner homered to tie the score in the fourth, a hit and a walk provided the Cardinals two men on v no one the end in the 5th for the heart of their order, through Scherzer heading towards 100 pitches. Scherzer hadn’t been locked in all night, but he had been making it job-related — the sort of night ~ above which the pushes through five and hands the sphere off, learning he did what that could. That muscled a fastball by Tyler O’Neill for the an initial out. Climate Roberts walked to the mound.


Managers who try to take Scherzer the end of games prior to he is ready have most frequently been greeted with a high-decibel retort. Matt Williams, Dusty Baker and also others have headed out only to turn ideal around and also say later they just wanted come hear Scherzer say he still had something left. Scherzer admitted later on he was “pitching on pins and also needles.”


Roberts said later he had seen Scherzer acquiring fewer swings and misses than usual, observed his slider backing increase — not biting turn off the plate yet sitting on it. He required a groundball, and also he couldn’t take the risk.


Scherzer couldn’t also look in ~ Roberts, who got to for the ball only to uncover Scherzer shiver his hand instead, trying come stave off the inevitable. Roberts had actually to pull the sphere out that his glove due to the fact that Scherzer i will not ~ hand it come him.


“I’ll never ever expect him to it is in happy,” Roberts said. “But the was my call.”


Do the Braves have actually a chance? just how are the Giants doing it? write-up Sports writers answered her MLB questions.


Reliever Joe Kelly induced the weak groundball and struck out Dylan Carlson to end the inning, ensuring the score stayed tied. The Dodgers’ bullpen permitted just two more hits all night, therefore the teams stayed deadlocked in one of those games that would more than likely be won by everyone batted critical — if it to be to be winner by anyone at all. Scherzer said later on he turned to Kelly in the dugout and predicted that Taylor would end it with a homer.


“I had actually that vision for him. I’ve played through him and faced him and also seeing every this, ns was like, this is the right man for the appropriate spot. He’s going to placed a good swing ~ above it,” Scherzer said. “Sure enough, he did.”


The Dodgers were that team since they had actually the much better record, the only reward they got for win 106 gamings in the continual season. Taylor made it reward enough.


— Chelsea Janes


This story has been updated. Uncover updates and analysis by Jesse Dougherty in Washington below.


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Dodgers advancement to NLDS on kris Taylor’s walk-off homer


By Jesse Dougherty12:36 a.m.
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The stage was set for Albert Pujols, Cardinals legend, to make some more history. It just would have actually been against St. Louis, in a narrative shift, and also not because that it.


But with no outs in the 9th inning, through the score tho tied, Pujols lined out to facility fielder Harrison Bader. Reliever T.J. McFarland, the Cardinals’ dugout and all of St. Louis might take a deep breath. And also after McFarland tallied another out and walked Cody Bellinger v two outs, Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt turned come right-hander Alex Reyes.


The winning run was 270 feet from residence — then 180 ~ Bellinger took 2nd on a pitch that bounced right into catcher Yadier Molina’s mitt. Then the Dodgers winner it, 3-1, top top a inside wall walk-off homer for chris Taylor. The had entered in a double-switch designed to let reliever Blake Treinen go multiple innings. He had actually struggled in ~ the plate towards the finish of the season, top Manager Dave Roberts to save him the end of the wild-card video game order.


Taylor, though, had the critical swing of a challenge that left next to no separation in between the 2 teams. His one swing was the difference.


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To the nine we go, quiet tied 1-1 with elimination on the line


By Jesse Dougherty11:55 p.m.
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Paul DeJong has some hops, apparently, an offered them come snare a liner before it shot a gap and maybe unraveled the wild-card video game at Dodger Stadium. No, DeJong, who had actually just gotten in in in ~ shortstop in a double-switch, made sure the contest stayed knot headed into the ninth inning, taking a hit away from Justin Turner. Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos clapped his glove. DeJong jogged in with the ball and will currently lead turn off the ninth. St. Louis can sure usage a base runner.


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Cardinals reliever luis Garcia records 5 outs to hold Dodgers down


By Jesse Dougherty11:21 p.m.
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The video game is tho tied, 1-1, after luis Garcia and Blake Treinen traded zeros in the seventh. Garcia offered his hard fastball and slider to record five outs and also quiet the Dodgers. The was also after Cody Bellinger punched a two-out solitary and stole second against Yadier Molina, placing himself in scoring place for Mookie Betts. However Garcia did what Treinen completed the optimal half. The stranded a runner without much of a fuss. He also kept the pressure on Treinen, who returned to at least start the eighth because that the Dodgers. Los Angeles double-switched kris Taylor right into the lineup, and into the pitcher’s spot, enabling Treinen to job-related a second inning.


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Cardinals escape jam to save score tied through six innings


By Jesse Dougherty10:59 p.m.
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If Paul Goldschmidt doesn’t make the capture at very first — or if A.J. Pollock in which method beats luis Garcia’s toss to the bag — then Trea Turner scores and the Dodgers take a command in the bottom that the 6th inning. However Goldschmidt did make an acrobatic record on Garcia’s strike from in prior of house plate, helping the Cardinals to escape a jam and also hold a 1-1 tie in place.


After advertise starter Adam Wainwright right into the sixth, St. Luigi Manager Mike Shildt traction him in ~ 95 pitches as soon as Turner dribbled an infield single. And also like Dave Roberts’s rapid hook of Max Scherzer, the decision payment off when Garcia, a right-handed reliever, got Pollock to tap a grounder between the mound and also catcher Yadier Molina. Garcia fielded it, made a tight-window throw and also the video game rolled on, quiet knotted with the bullpens in full swing.


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10:37 p.m.
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Jesse Dougherty: through two outs in the height of the 6th inning, Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt do the crucial decision the letting starter Adam Wainwright hit because that himself. Reliever Alex Reyes to be warming in the bullpen. Harrison Bader had just to be hit by Brusdar Graterol to reach through two outs. A fifty percent inning before, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts hooked Max Scherzer in ~ 94 pitches, even though Scherzer had just notched a strikeout with two and also one out. Schildt, then, proved the contrast of two philosophies to navigating a do-or-die game. Wainwright was at 83 pitches once he stepped into the box and subsequently base out. That offered Shildt a home window to press him a little deeper.
Jesse Dougherty, Reporter extending the Washington Nationals.
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Joe Kelly rewards Dave Roberts’s decision come hook Max Scherzer at 94 pitches


By Jesse Dougherty10:23 p.m.
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Max Scherzer walk not desire to come the end of the game. He hardly ever does. Yet with 2 on and also one under in the fifth, Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts walked come the mound and swapped Scherzer for reliever Joe Kelly. It retained the baseball people from evil a high-pressure matchup between Scherzer and also Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado, two peak players. Yet Kelly, a hard-throwing righty, got Arenado to ground the end to third before striking out Dylan Carlson to strand a jogger at third.


Scherzer’s last line: 4 1/3 innings, 3 hits, one deserve run, three walks, 4 strikeouts and seven three-ball counts, juicing his key total. He even tried to remain in the game prior to Kelly retained a 1-1 tie intact.


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Justin Turner knots the score, 1-1, v a solo homer in the fourth


By Jesse Dougherty9:55 p.m.
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It was a hanging curveball, a pitch that floated right into Justin Turner’s wheelhouse, and also the third baseman rocked it for a solo homer right into the Dodgers’ bullpen past the left ar wall. ~ that, though, Adam Wainwright recovered to strikeout the next two batters — will Smith and A.J. Pollock — before inducing one inning-ending popup. Yet the blast did tie score ahead of the fifth inning. New ballgame for every involved.


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9:43 p.m.
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Jesse Dougherty: Harrison Bader’s nine-pitch at-bat in the 4th was important in 2 ways: the turned over the lineup, an interpretation that Adam Wainwright, the pitcher, would end the inning instead of leading off the next. And it additionally kept adding to Scherzer’s key count, i beg your pardon is in ~ 78 through four frames. The Dodgers will almost certainly have actually to speak to their bullpen sooner than they’d like to. Bader, the Cardinals’ facility fielder, provided a lift to his team’s effort — and the remainder of that lineup — through fouling turn off a 3-2 fastball, then a 3-2 slider, prior to Scherzer plunked him through an within curve.
Jesse Dougherty, Reporter spanning the Washington Nationals.
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Adam Wainwright dances out of bases-loaded jam in 3rd inning


By Jesse Dougherty9:32 p.m.
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Adam Wainwright’s command slipped in the first, pitting that in a bases-loaded, two-out matchup through MVP candidate Trea Turner. Yet Turner broke his bat ~ above a 3-2 curveball and hit right into a dual play turn by 2nd baseman Tommy Edman. Regardless of being one of the sport’s more quickly players, and despite win the NL batting title through a .328 average, Turner bounced into 18 twin plays during the continual season (tied because that seventh month among qualified hitters). This one maintained a 1-0 lead because that the Cardinals heading right into the fourth.


9:23 p.m.
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Jesse Dougherty: Cardinals shortstop Edmundo Sosa hasn’t had actually the finest defensive night. In the very first inning, he gained his glove on a ripped grounder from Mookie Betts and also let it trickle into shallow left. In the third, Betts poked a liner behind shortstop and also Sosa gained glove on it again, despite it fell to the grass. Sosa is in the lineup due to the fact that his bat is much better than Paul DeJong, who entered the year as the surefire starter. But Sosa’s i can not qualify to make 50/50 plays has slowed Wainwright’s rate in the early inning — if only since it has compelled him to throw more pitches than needed.
Jesse Dougherty, Reporter covering the Washington Nationals.

Max Scherzer has actually thrown 43 pitches through two innings


By Jesse Dougherty9:05 p.m.
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To spike Max Scherzer’s key count with two frames, the Cardinals operated to back-to-back-back 3-2 counts to begin the top of the second. That contained an at-bat for starter Adam Wainwright, who made Scherzer throw 6 pitches despite showing sacrifice bunt ~ above the an initial one. Scherzer has actually not succumbed a run since throwing a wild key in the first, yet could have actually his outing shortened by the early on inefficiency. Or he could settle in, giving the offense a prolonged chance to reduced into a 1-0 hole.


9:00 p.m.
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Jesse Dougherty: The Cardinals gotten in the postseason v the league’s ideal defense. At an early stage on, through no outs in the second, Tommy Edman proved why. Top top catcher will Smith’s grounder up the middle, Edman, play second, slide for the ball and threw to an initial in one fluid motion. Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis’s very first baseman, made a long stretch behind the bag to capture Edman’s throw, a step before Smith reached the bag. The play retained a leadoff jogger off base because that Adam Wainwright. It additionally was an on-the-nose illustration that a club that led the majors in outs over average, a catch-all protective statistic, in 2021.
Jesse Dougherty, Reporter spanning the Washington Nationals.

Max Scherzer’s command is shaky early on


By Jesse Dougherty8:48 p.m.
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Via invoice Shaikin the the L.A. Times:


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Cardinals lead 1-0 after first inning


By Jesse Dougherty8:39 p.m.
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When the 3rd out of the inning was recorded, Adam Wainwright organized the ball at the finish of an it s okay sign, together if he’d just completed a magic trick. And he kind of had, catching a 100 mph line journey off Justin Turner’s bat. Every it take it was sharp reflexes and also a slight motion of his glove.


Wainwright discarded the Dodgers with 13 pitches in the first. Scherzer threw 19, allowing a operation on a spiked slider that gained away from will Smith for a wild pitch.


8:30 p.m.
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Jesse Dougherty: to strike first, Cardinals leadoff guy Tommy Edman sprinted residence on a wild pitch because that Max Scherzer. And while part pitchers carry out spike breaking balls when ahead in the count — a tactic to acquire batters to swing in ~ something lock can’t maybe hit — Scherzer is rarely among them. The closestly he’ll get to doing the is cram back-foot sliders or cutters come left-handed hitters. In this case, increase 0-2 versus the right-handed Nolan Arenado, catcher will Smith set a short target and also Scherzer bounced a slider means low and wide of the zone. Smith, a catcher who does not go come one knee with a jogger on third, can not slide in prior in time, permitting Edman come score. The damage was a 1-0 deficit for the Dodgers just four batters into the game.

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Jesse Dougherty, Reporter covering the Washington Nationals.
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Updated October 18, 2021

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