Ernie Johnson: The pressure's on... the Dodgers in NLDS Game 5

Chris Lingebach
October 09, 2019 - 3:45 pm

Pressure is something that's hard to quantify. But when the entire country is watching and your season is on the line, you know it when you see it.

That said, both the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers bring their own share of baggage into Wednesday's NLDS Game 5.

The Dodgers carry the weight of consecutive World Series failures, and the Nationals the burden of never having advanced past the divisional round in the postseason. Which weighs more?

Longtime TBS play-by-play announcer Ernie Johnson will be calling the game, and was asked, during an appearance with 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny, if there might be more pressure on the Dodgers?

"I could certainly buy into that," Johnson said. "I mean, when you mention the Dodgers this year, you mention the World Series at the same time. When you've been there in back-to-back years and you win your division by 21 games, sure. This has gone longer than they certainly hoped it would."

"When it all comes down to one game," he continued, "and it's one pitch, or one bad hop, or one missed read, or one play that you don't make that you should make, where you give somebody an extra out, it can swing the whole game and swing the series. So yeah, there's pressure there, but I think certainly you look at the Nats and say, 'Oh, we're playing free and easy. We've got nothing to lose.' Sure you do!

"And you know you've got that monkey-on-your-back kind of thing that, come on, when are you gonna get through the NLDS and make it to the League Championship Series? And so, sure, there's pressure on both sides, but I would think, if you had to say who's more pressure on, I would say it would be the Dodgers."

Johnson shot down the theory that the Nats are playing with house money, though.

"I don't think it's house money at all," he said. "I think you get to this point and it's: you know you can play with these guys, and that you have every chance in the world right now with Stephen Strasburg on the mound tonight to win this series. Now, can you get that done?"

"The thing that's jumped out about me after doing a couple of Sunday games in Washington and seeing this team up close is, to me, the joy has returned to playing baseball on this team," he said. "And you could look at various things. Whether you look at (Gerardo) Parra's pickup from San Francisco and the whole 'Baby Shark' or whatever, but there's more to it than that.

"I just think that this is a pretty tight bunch and a pretty cohesive team that truly enjoys being around each other. It's a great clubhouse to be around. And I think when you don't have the burden of expectation as much as in previous years, and Washington certainly had that, that when you get to this point, you are playing a little more free and easy, but I don't know if anybody plays really free and easy when it comes down to a Game 5."

"This is who manages the emotions of that moment and who's able to produce," he said.

First pitch is scheduled for 8:37 p.m. on TBS.

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