The Dodgers flew into Atlanta to start the NLCS after narrowly knocking off the Giants in the NLDS. There was sure to be some jet lag and exhaustion after that tiring series with the Giants, but the Dodgers seem to have problems with the first games of a series after an off-day. Even though the Braves don’t have Ronald Acuna Jr. and have lost Jorge Soler due to Covid, they are still a formidable opponent. The NLCS rematch started in similar fashion as last year with a Dodger thud. The Dodgers lost game 1 of the NLCS.
There were several reasons the Dodgers lost on Saturday night in Atlanta. Poor pitching strategies was one part of it. I understand the reasoning for wanting to hold Max Scherzer back for game 2, but to use another bullpen game and not have David Price on the roster seemed foolish. The Dodgers had to use their entire pitching staff, opening with Corey Knebel again. Knebel was fine, but it didn’t work. The Dodgers had to turn to Tony Gonsolin, who has an 8.68 career ERA in the postseason (he allowed 9 earned runs and 9 walks in last year’s NLCS) and he was unsurprisingly terrible again. With the Dodgers ahead 2-1 he allowed a no-doubter home run to game hero Austin Riley that tied the score at 2-2 in the fifth.
Much will be said about Chris Taylor‘s tootblan in the top of the ninth. With the game tied at 2-2 and closer Will Smith on the mound Taylor drew a walk. Cody Bellinger pinch-hitting roped a single into right, but Taylor got confused and rounded second base too far, stopping halfway in between. Former Dodger Joc Pederson‘s throw was online to second and Taylor was tagged out for the third out of the frame. It was even stupider that my description.
Throughout the game the Dodgers put traffic on the bases, but could only muster two runs off Atlanta starter Max Fried. AJ Pollock doubled and Taylor singled him home in the top of the second to tie the game at 1-1. The Braves had scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the first. Will Smith’s solo home run in the fourth gave the Dodgers a short lived lead. The Dodgers were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.
Riley drove in two of the three Atlanta runs. In the bottom of the ninth with Blake Treinen on the mound (The Dodgers only had Brusdar Graterol and Even Phillips left if the game went into extras) Ozzie Albies flared a single to center and then stole second. Riley immediately singled him home to end the game. On a funny note, Freddie Freeman struck out four times on the night. The series continues tomorrow as the Dodgers try to get a split. Max Scherzer gets the ball for the Dodgers while the Braves will counter with Ian Anderson. Can we not fall behind 3-1 again this year?