MemberOctober 16, 2020 at 10:24 pm
With big hits and timely pitching, the Los Angeles Dodgers win game five of the National League Championship Series over the Atlanta Braves, staying alive with a final score of 7-3.
The Braves, 27 outs away from advancing to the 2020 World Series, tasked AJ Minter as the opener for their second straight bullpen game. Mookie Betts attacked the first pitch and anticlimactically flew out shallowly. Minter then struck-out Corey Seager swinging, but Justin Turner stayed on 97mph and ripped a two-out double. Minter got Max Muncy swinging to finish a less than ideal top of the first for the Dodgers. With Atlanta’s red-hot offense coming up, Dustin May took the mound for LA. May, looking to deliver a stellar performance in a huge spot, got Ronald Acuña Jr. to ground-out. Muncy couldn’t handle Freddie Freeman’s sharp grounder, resulting in a double with one-away. Freeman advanced to 3rd on a rare passed ball from Will Smith during Marcell Ozuna’s walk. Freeman scored on Travis D’Arnaud’s sacrifice-fly to the warning track, putting the Braves in front early, 1-0. May got Ozzie Albies swinging to mitigate the damage for his struggling offense. Smith quickly grounded-out to begin the second, and Minter struck-out Cody Bellinger and AJ Pollock soon after. Dansby Swanson worked a leadoff walk in the home half, but May responded with a strike-out of Austin Riley. With Swanson on the move, Nick Markakis’ base hit put runners at the corners. Cristian Pache’s bloop single brought home Swanson, doubling Atlanta’s lead. Their aggressiveness proved to pay dividends, contrary to LA’s performance. May left two on with a fly-out of Acuña Jr. and a strike-out of Freeman, though his pitch count rose rapidly. Joc Pederson and Chris Taylor both struck-out looking against Minter to open the away half of the third — just continuously deflating at-bats. Additionally, the Dodgers bad luck continued when Betts crushed a would-be homer just foul before striking-out looking. There are no words to better describe LA’s performance besides stating the fact that Minter punched-out the side. Joe Kelly entered to pitch the bottom half and was welcomed by singles from Ozuna and D’Arnaud. Albies advanced the runners with a ground-out, and on Swanson’s fly-ball, Betts made a spectacular acrobatic catch. Betts impressively transferred from his glove and made a nearly perfect throw to the plate while on the run and losing his balance, but it was just late. Ozuna seemingly scored; however, the Dodgers caught a break when it was determined upon review that Ozuna left 3rd base early — a poor mistake. Tyler Matzek relieved a dealing Minter in the fourth, and was immediately taken deep by Seager — a solo home run to dead center field, just out of the reach of a leaping Pache to get LA back into it, 2-1. Next, Turner lined-out sharply and Muncy did the same — two loud outs. Matzek proceeded to get Smith swinging, and Blake Treinen trotted in from the bullpen to pitch the home half. Treinen struck-it Markakis in the midst of a 1-2-3 frame. In the fifth, Matzek struck-out Bellinger swinging prior to exiting. Shane Greene’s initial pitch was punched up the middle for a base hit by Pollock. Pederson grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Greene got Taylor to ground-out as well. Back out for a second inning of work, Treinen retired the side in brief fashion to end the inning. Betts led-off the sixth with a much needed infield single, but Seager flew-out after a lengthy battle with Greene. Betts stole 2nd during Turner’s at-bat, but he was thrown out in a rundown. Betts stayed alive long enough to allow Turner to get to 2nd after his fielder’s choice. The Braves strong lefty Will Smith came in to face Muncy with two-down, and Muncy watched five sliders in a row before taking a fastball for a walk. Up came LA’s catcher, setting up the battle we all wanted to see: Will Smith vs Will Smith. The pitcher got two borderline calls to start the at-bat, but the catcher calmly watched three close pitches to full the count. Smith threw a low and in fastball, and Smith crushed it — an extremely clutch game-changing three-run homer to give the Dodgers the edge, 4-2. Smith got Bellinger to pop-out to finish the frame. Pedro Báez was given the bottom of the inning, and bookend strike-outs of D’Arnaud and Swanson fueled a perfect one. Jacob Webb struck-out Pollock and Pederson in the seventh, but allowed a two-out double to Taylor. Betts came through, rifling an RBI single through the hole to extend LA’s advantage to 5-2. On the next pitch, Corey Seager launched — and he knew it — a big time two-run shot to make it 7-2. Báez allowed a leadoff single in Atlanta’s turn, and was relieved by Victor González. Johan Camargo pinch-hit for Markakis and earned a walk, getting traffic for the Braves with the top of their order looming. González, struggling to find the zone with Pache at the plate, calmly made important pitches in a three-ball count. He ultimately worked a grounder to Turner, who started a momentum-shifting double-play thanks to a great turn in the middle by the recently inserted Kiké Hernàndez. Gonzalez then got Acuña Jr. to fly-out shallowly, stranding a runner at 3rd. Josh Tomlin came in for the eighth, and Muncy hammered a deep fly-ball to center field. Due to Globe Life’s unfriendly dimensions, Pache had a enough room to nonchalantly rob Muncy of a solo bomb. Subsequently, Smith just got under one, and Tomlin struck-out Bellinger. González remained in to face Freeman, who punched one against the shift. Taylor’s throw to 2nd was a strike, but Turner couldn’t hold on. Taylor simultaneously rolled his ankle, but after a visit from the trainers, he was okay. Brusdar Graterol took the ball from González, and his first pitch produced a fly-out of Ozuna. Freeman advanced to 3rd, and he scored on D’Arnaud’s ground-out. While the Braves pulled within five, 7-3, Graterol’s strike-out of Albies sent the game to the ninth. Tomlin stayed in, and the inning commenced with a single by Hernàndez. Pederson’s double-play erased it however, and Edwin Ríos, pinch-hitting for Taylor, struck-out to put the game in the bottom of the ninth. Kenley Jansen was turned to, and although it was not a save situation, I mean, c’mon. Three outs away from avoiding elimination and forcing a game six, Jansen struck-out Swanson swinging to start things. He then whiffed Riley on three pitches, hitting his spots with the cutter cutting. Emphatically slamming the door, Jansen blew 94mph past Camargo to complete a nearly immaculate frame. Vintage Kenley to end the ballgame.
There’s nothing else to say besides the boys in blue survive. They passed the baton at the plate and throughout the pitching staff, collectively playing a full game and getting the job done. With their backs against the wall, they’ll have to do the same thing tomorrow. Walker Buehler, continuously dealing with a blister issue this postseason, starts for the Dodgers. Buehler allowed one run over five innings in game one, and he’ll look to lead his team in another must-win. For the Braves, Max Fried gets the ball. Fried allowed one run over six in game one, and it will be a tough task for his opposing hitters. It’s a battle of two young aces. 1:38pm first pitch. Go Dodgers!
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