“I don’t mind lefties,” said the Dodgers’ David Freese, “but man, he’s tough.”
The Dodgers started the sixth with Bellinger and Corey Seager, elite left-handed hitters who are not removed for pinch-hitters. Bellinger singled for his first hit of the series, but Seager and the next hitter, A.J. Pollock, struck out.
Now was the chance for Dave Roberts, the Dodgers’ manager, to flip his lineup and grab the platoon advantage. Three of the next four batters were right-handed pinch-hitters — Freese, Chris Taylor and Hernandez — and all would reach base and score.
“I loved the matchups to combat Corbin,” Roberts said. “It’s just a complete buy-in from our guys that you might not start the game, but you certainly have an opportunity later on in the game to impact it.”
The Nationals’ infielders shifted Freese up the middle, and he rolled a single through the wide hole at second base. He was not trying to do it, Freese said, but managed to fight off an inside pitch and send it to the right spot.
Catcher Russell Martin came up next; he had fanned twice against Sanchez, but as a right-handed hitter, he matched up better with Corbin and doubled off the wall to score two runs.
Martin, who added a home run later, is playing in his 10th postseason. He has never reached the World Series, and his playoff average before the double was .183. At 36, he said, he had learned a few things since his first trip to the postseason in 2006.
“I’m definitely calmer now,” Martin said. “I’ve always been an intense baseball player and just person in general, but I think now I just know how to take a deep breath. I had a lot of yoga classes in between those games and now.”