MemberOctober 15, 2020 at 9:10 pm
The Atlanta Braves win game four of the National League Championship Series, belittling the Los Angeles Dodgers to take a commanding 3-1 lead with tonight’s 9-2 win.
Bryse Wilson, tasked as the opener in a Braves bullpen game, worked a fly-out of Mookie Betts and a ground-out of Corey Seager to quickly get things rolling. Wilson struck-out Justin Turner to complete a clean and smooth first frame. Clayton Kershaw, after being scratched prior to game two, took the mound feeling healthy enough, although noticeably intense winds affected him immediately. Ronald Acuña Jr. lined his first pitch into left for a base hit, but Kershaw responded with a strike-out of Freddie Freeman. Kershaw threw over to 1st multiple times, stepped off once or twice, and was visited by his battery-mate Austin Barnes. Marcell Ozuna hit a rocket right at Turner, who calmly fielded and threw to start an inning-ending double-play. Max Muncy, uncomfortably fighting the wind at the plate, struck-out looking to start the second. Wilson then worked fly-outs of Joc Pederson and Cody Bellinger to get his team back to the plate. Turner made a good play on Travis D’Arnaud’s soft chopper, but he couldn’t field Ozzie Albies’. Kershaw punched-out Dansby Swanson and got a pop-out of Austin Riley to leave Albies stranded. In the third, Wilson threw a fastball middle-middle and Edwin Ríos didn’t miss it, smashing a leadoff solo home run right into the wind to give the Dodgers the lead, 1-0. Wilson responded with three outs, and Seager couldn’t handle Johan Camargo’s laser right at him to open the bottom half. With Camargo on 1st, Cristian Pache attempted to bunt twice, and he failed. Kershaw proceeded to strike-out Pache swinging, and worked a double-play ball of Acuña Jr. to erase the baserunner. Seager roped two pitches in the top of the fourth just foul, one tailing and one hooking. Ultimately, he commenced the frame with a sharp-groundout as Freeman made a nice play. Turner then lined-out to center, and Muncy battled after falling behind to earn a two-out walk. Pederson flew-out to the warning track, just missing a homer. Freeman lined-out to a leaping Seager for the first out of the home half, and Ozuna tied the game at 1 moments later with a solo shot off of Kershaw. D’Arnaud walked to follow, and Kershaw made a terrific play to get Albies at 1st after a soft grounder. Kershaw left D’Arnaud at 2nd with a ground-out of Swanson. Wilson struck-out Bellinger on three pitches to begin the fifth, and he got Ríos and Kiké Hernàndez swinging as well. Kershaw countered with a swift frame of his own, fanning Pache to top it off. With his extreme efficiency, Wilson remained in for the sixth. He worked a ground-out of Barnes before Betts lined-out, and got Seager to fly-out to complete another spotless frame. Acuña Jr. led off Atlanta’s turn with a high chopper that caused havoc. Hernàndez barehanded and threw on the run, but it was late. The throw got by Muncy at 1st, rolling into the dugout to send Acuña Jr. to 2nd. Simultaneously, Acuna Jr. dropped to his knee in pain, but after an extended visit from the training staff, he proved to be okay. Dave Roberts elected to leave Kershaw in, and Freeman made him pay. Pulling a double, Freeman put Atlanta ahead 2-1, and Ozuna did the same to make it 3-1. At that point, Kershaw was finally pulled. While he failed to get the job done, he wasn’t necessarily bad by any means; additionally, you can only blame him and Roberts to the extent of his offense being nearly nonexistent. Brusdar Graterol relieved Kershaw and got an out before Albies’ bloop single put runners at the corners with only one-away. Swanson’s double down the line scored two more, extending the Braves advantage to 5-1. Riley’s base hit up the middle added another, and Graterol was yanked. Victor González entered and walked a batter before Pache’s single made it 7-1. González struck-out Acuña Jr. and got Freeman to ground-out, once and for all concluded a nearly intolerable frame. Now able to somewhat taste the World Series, the Braves turned to Will Smith for the seventh. Turner, providing a great at-bat that would have been useful earlier, singled on the ninth pitch he saw. Subsequently, Muncy walked on four pitches to get a hopeful counter-rally going. AJ Pollock, pinch-hitting for Pederson, fought off multiple pitches before flying-out to the warning track — stopped by the wind. Bellinger walked to load the bases, and perhaps the most painful thing to happen this series: Atlanta went to a new arm in their bullpen, denying us of a Will Smith vs Will Smith battle with LA’s catcher in the on-deck circle. With the call to the ‘pen coming before Smith was announced as the pinch hitter, Chris Martin got to face Ríos. Ríos lined-out to center, a sacrifice-fly, pulling the Dodgers within five 7-2. Matt Beaty came off the bench to bat for Hernàndez, and earned a walk to re-load the bases. Smith, now officially, stepped up to bat in place of Barnes. In what felt only right, Smith lined-out sharply, and Martin escaped the threat. On the other end of the spectrum, LA was again unable to get the big hit necessary. Dylan Floro entered and was taken deep by Ozuna, getting the run right back. Floro, with bookend strike-outs, got the next three outs. Tyler Matzek entered in the eighth and struck-out Betts before getting Seager to pop-out. Turner ripped a two-out double, but Matzek’s strike-out of Muncy left him stranded. A two-out rally behind an error brought home two more runs for the Braves to make it 10-2. The Dodgers went down in order in the ninth to end the ballgame.
It’s happened again. Kershaw’s downfall in the sixth, a terrible offensive performance, and a bullpen implosion by the boys in blue only pads an already existing postseason Dodgers narrative. With the frustrating and disappointing loss, LA falls behind to the Braves 3-1 in the NLCS, and are now officially on the verge of defeat. They’ll need to win three straight games tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday; however, their current performance and lack of intent, effort, and energy provides no confidence that they will do so. It will likely be Dustin May on the mound for them, with an Atlanta bullpen game at hand. The Dodgers have simply shown no sense of urgency at any point this series. They’ll need to play with an excess amount of urgency starting tomorrow. While tonight felt like their last chance, it actually was not. With the potential of this offense, if they would just not underperform, you can only hope that tonight is a loud wake-up call, and a win tomorrow sparks two more. Ahhhh… baseball. 6pm first pitch. Go Dodgers!
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