No. 2: NLDS Game 5, Dodgers vs. Nationals
Interestingly, before World Series Game 7, this was the only postseason contest in which both teams faced elimination. That alone makes it a strong favorite to be one of the best games of the past month, but there are plenty of other factors that elevate it. There was NL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer doing yeoman’s work for Washington, allowing one run in six-plus innings. There was late offense, as the Dodgers erupted for four runs in the seventh inning to take a 4–1 lead that the Nationals countered with two runs in the bottom half. There were two tense (and interminable) final innings that were so stressful that it’s a miracle that the Nationals Park crowd was able to stay conscious throughout.
In the end, however, there were two players who made this game such a thrill. The first was Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen, who entered in the seventh inning with the tying run at first and nobody out, for what appeared would be a nine-out save try. Janses got the first seven of those outs before yielding to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Just 24 hours after helping stave off elimination in Los Angeles and approximately seven hours after his manager, Dave Roberts, had said Kershaw would not be used no matter what in this game, the three-time Cy Young winner came out of the bullpen with two on and one out and retired the final two batters. He got Daniel Murphy, the NL's OPS leader in the regular season, to pop out, then used one of his vintage curveballs to strike out Wilmer Difo to finish Los Angeles' 4–3 victory.