Takeaways from Dodgers’ NLDS Game 5 win over Giants

Takeaways from Dodgers NLDS Game 5 win over Giants

Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer, right, celebrates with Will Smith after striking out San Francisco’s Wilmer Flores in relief to end Game 5.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

After jogging down to the bullpen in the fourth inning, Scherzer was seen pacing back and forth as the game went on.

He wasn’t nervous, he said. He was just trying to prepare for a role he’d seldom had in his career.

“I was just trying to keep my legs loose,” Scherzer said. “That was going to be my biggest challenge tonight to come in the game [out of the bullpen]. I knew I could get my upper body loose, but I didn’t know if I could get my legs fully loose. I got them loose before I went down there and then I just paced around.”

As the tied game progressed through the later innings, Scherzer wasn’t exactly sure when — or if — he’d be called in.

Treinen threw only 12 pitches in the seventh, but after entering without a double-switch, was pinch-hit for when his spot came up the next inning with two runners on base. Jansen needed only 15 pitches in the eighth, but also was pinch-hit for when the pitcher’s spot came up again in the top of the ninth.

After the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth, Scherzer and Joe Kelly were left as their two best remaining options for the save.

Scherzer was the choice — Friedman said that, while using Scherzer wasn’t the team’s “Plan A,” either he or Jansen were the best options to close — and proceeded to pick up his first career save in the regular season or playoffs.

“I really wanted Kenley to have that ninth inning,” Scherzer said. “But the way the game unfolded, my number got called.”

Scherzer’s body might not have been used to making relief appearances, but his stuff hardly suffered. He struck out two batters. He worked around an error by Justin Turner. And when Wilmer Flores was controversially ruled to have swung for the final out, Scherzer led a crazed celebration in the middle of the field.

“You‘ve got to want to be in that situation,” Scherzer said, adding: “You have to believe in yourself, that you have what it takes to execute pitches in those situations and not be overcooked.”

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