MemberOctober 12, 2020 at 8:32 pm
The Atlanta Braves score four in the top of the ninth to stun the Los Angeles Dodgers, taking game one of the National League Championship Series by a final of 5-1.
Walker Buehler’s third outing of the postseason commenced with a pop-out of Ronald Acuña Jr. on the series’ initial pitch. Three pitches later, Freddie Freeman crushed a solo home run on Buehler’s 97mph two-strike fastball, lifting the Braves to an early lead, 1-0. With the help of a spectacular defensive play by Justin Turner, Buehler got the second out. After a walk to Travis D’Arnaud, Buehler worked a ground-out of Ozzie Albies to get the Dodgers to the plate. Getting the ball for Atlanta was Max Fried, who grew up and played high school ball in Studio City, CA rooting for the team he was about to face. Fried struck-out Mookie Betts and Corey Seager to get his day started, then was smacked up the middle by Justin Turner for a base hit. Max Muncy followed Turner’s tough at-bat by battling to earn a walk, bringing up Will Smith with two-on and two-out. Fried struck-out Smith to escape unscathed, although his pitch count already neared 30. Buehler started the second with a strike-out of his former college roommate Dansby Swanson. Adam Duvall, after fouling a ball off, exited the game with a hip injury, and was replaced by top-tier prospect Christian Pache. Pinch-hitting behind in the count, Pache ultimately walked, but Buehler responded with strike-outs of Nick Markakis and Austin Riley. Albies robbed Cody Bellinger of a leadoff single in the bottom half, but AJ Pollock’s sharp ground-ball got up the middle. Kiké Hernàndez went down swinging, but Chris Taylor walked on four-pitches. Betts walked from the on-deck circle with two-on and two-out again, and he lined out sharply to center field, unable to get LA on the board. Buehler opened the third with a strike-out of Acuña Jr. before losing a battle on ball four to Freeman. Freeman advanced to 2nd on Marcell Ozuna’s sharp ground-out, but Buehler left him stranded. With bookend strike-outs of Seager and Muncy, Fried pitched a very quick frame to end the inning. Buehler struck-out Albies but walked Swanson to open the fourth. Swanson stole 2nd, and Buehler walked Pache — a career high fifth — to put two-on with one-away. Buehler answered with a punch-out of Markakis and a pop-out of Riley to make it out of the top half alive. In the home frame, it took Fried one pitch to get Smith to fly-out, and he got Bellinger swinging before completing another clean inning with a fly-out of Pollock. Buehler punched-out Acuña Jr. to begin the fifth, and pitched a perfect frame thanks to the solid defense behind him. In the Dodgers’ turn, Fried attempted to triple-up on the curveball and left one hanging. Hernàndez didn’t miss it, crushing a majestic solo shot to tie the game at 1. Fried got the next two outs prior to Seager’s single, and got the third behind a great defensive play by Swanson at short. Buehler remained in for the sixth and was welcomed by knocks from D’Arnaud and Albies. With the go-ahead run in scoring position, Buehler was relieved by Brusdar Graterol. Graterol telepathically said “I got this,” and set Swanson, Pache, and Markakis down in order to work out of the jam. That closed the book on Buehler’s day who, despite being erratic and struggling to throw first-pitch strikes, pitched his heart out as he always does and gave his team a good chance. His final line: 5+ IP, 1ER, 3H, 5BB, 7K. Fried got Muncy to chase on a full count, and also struck-out Smith in a quick frame to keep the game even through six. Dustin May took over in the seventh and struck-out Riley with a dirty sequence. A loud out from Acuña Jr. proceeded Freeman’s ground-out, finishing a very swift half. Fried’s day was over when LA came to the plate, and Chris Martin was the man on the mound for the Braves. Hernàndez made Martin work in the midst of a nine-pitch AB; however, the Dodgers couldn’t get anything going. May went back out for the seventh, and Ozuna led it off with a double. May got D’Arnaud to ground-out to left side, keeping Ozuna from advancing, and got Albies to chase for out number two. Swanson was given the free pass, and Pache was pinch-hit for by none other than Pablo Sandoval. May hit Sandoval, loading the bases. Victor González was given the heavy task, and Charlie Culberson pinch-hit for Markakis. González came through, striking-out Culberson with a very good slider to strand a trio. González was unafraid to display his emotions — flailing his arms in excitement as he proudly walked towards the dugout. Atlanta turned to their all-star lefty Will Smith (how fun it is that I must clarify which Will Smith I’m referring to), and he made easy work of Betts, Seager and Turner. With the Braves’ big guns coming up, Blake Treinen entered. Riley took Treinen deep, an absolute blast, to give Atlanta the edge late, 2-1. Acuña Jr. followed with a double, and he advanced to 3rd on Freeman’s sacrifice-fly. Ozuna extended the advantage to 3-1 with a bloop single, and Treinen was wisely yanked. Jake McGee entered and allowed the dagger to Albies, a two-run shot to make it 5-1. McGee got a strike-out to finally put an end to a heart-wrenching top half of the ninth. With all of their energy in the dugout across, the Dodgers went down without a fight against Mark Melancon to end the ballgame.
The boys in blue fall to the Braves in game one of the NLCS due to a poor offensive performance and costly mistake pitches. With this best-of-seven series being played with no off-days, the Dodgers can only look ahead. Tomorrow, LA faces an extremely important nine innings of baseball, as they must win and even the series at 1. Clayton Kershaw, who has had one magnificent start and one solid start this postseason, will be on the hill. His opposition will be young righty Ian Anderson, who had a spectacular regular season and has been even better in the postseason. Can’t say anything besides they must flip the script tomorrow. Limit the mistakes, have consistently good at-bats, play with energy, and win a baseball game. 3pm start time. Go Dodgers!
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