(The Sports Xchange) – The wind was whistling in from left field at the start of Sunday’s game between the Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, and Washington catcher Jose Lobaton pointed this out to the home plate umpire.
“Wow, that wind is really bad for hitters,” said Lobaton, a reserve most of the season behind starter Wilson Ramos.
But Lobaton, a switch-hitter batting on a rare occasion from the right side, was able to blast a three-run homer through the wind to left field in the fourth inning for a 3-2 lead, and Daniel Murphy added three hits and two RBIs as the Nationals beat the Dodgers 5-2 in Game Two of the National League Division Series.
“I think I hit it really good,” the 31-year-old from Venezuela said of the homer off starter and loser Rich Hill.
“When it went out it was like, ‘That is pretty cool.’ I think everyone is going to feel good (going to Los Angeles). That is what we wanted.”
The series, tied at one game each, will shift from Washington to Los Angeles on Monday.
Ramos tore a knee ligament in the final week of the regular season and now Lobaton and rookie Pedro Severino, who started Game One, are splitting catching duties.
“Losing Willie is tough for us,” Lobaton said. “He is my friend. It is part of the game. We have to keep going forward. I have to try and do something for the team. I didn’t try to hit a homer and I got a homer.”
Lobaton now has three postseason hits and two of them are homers.
“He hammered that ball. He got a breaking ball up the zone,” said Murphy, who was on second when Lobaton went deep. “He does a great job of coming to work every day. No matter when he gets in there he puts up quality at-bats. It was just a massive swing.”
Said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts: “You know the wind was blowing in, and you’ve got to click it to get it out. It was an elevated breaking ball, and again, he put a good swing on it.”
The wind played havoc all day and Jayson Werth, the Washington left fielder, caught a liner off the bat of Howie Kendrick for the final out with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth.
“A game saver,” Murphy said.
Another game changer was the Nationals bullpen, which recorded 14 outs and gave up just one hit after starter Tanner Roark was pulled after 4 1/3 innings and giving up two runs.
Lobaton last hit a postseason home run on a walk-off homer for Tampa Bay against Boston in Game Three of the 2013 ALDS.
“He stays ready all the time,” said Dusty Baker, the Washington manager. “He’ll probably be starting … tomorrow. Boy just keep it coming.”
(Editing by Andrew Both)