The Los Angeles Dodgers will live to fight another day.
Behind a dramatic three-run home run by catcher Will Smith – who appropriately came up against Atlanta Braves reliever Will Smith – and seven strong innings from their besieged bullpen, Dodgers escaped elimination with a 7-3 victory in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
Closing 2020 LCS has proven to be quite a task. Earlier on Friday, the Houston Astros forced a Game 7 in the ALCS after falling behind the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0. The Dodgers – now down 3-2 in the NLCS – look set to do the same in Game 6 on Saturday.
Atlanta knocked out Dodgers starter Dustin May after flattening single runs in the first and second innings. Travis d̵
From there, a parade of Dodgers’ relievers – a total of six – kept Atlanta’s high-performing offense in check. It is noted that fighter closer Kenley Jansen struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning.
The Dodgers offense got off to a slower start against Braves’ “starter” AJ Minter. The 27-year-old had never started before in 139 MLB appearances, but looked good to throw three goalless innings. When Minter was out, the Dodgers scored seven unanswered runs, starting with Corey Seager’s fourth inning solo home run.
It set the stage for Will Smith’s game-changing turn against Will Smith.
Los Angeles scored three more in a somewhat controversial seventh inning.
Chris Taylor tried to steal first base by behaving as if he had been hit by Jacob Webb’s pitch. The call was overturned repeatedly. Taylor then doubled and set the table for Mookie Betts’ race-scoring single and Corey Seager’s second home run – a two-run shot.
Mookie Betts is not just an MVP caliber hitter. He is an MVP caliber defender, as evidenced by this wonderful catch to start a critical double play.
After repeated rounds, Braves runner Marcell Ozuna was ruled out of leaving the base prematurely. It was clear he did not believe Mookie was making that piece.
The moment would weave big as Atlanta missed a chance to extend its lead.
It’s at Game 6 on Saturday (16:38 ET, FS1) as the Dodgers face another must-win to save their season.
In terms of pitching, there is not much of a decision for Braves manager Brian Snitker. He goes back to Game 1 starting Max Fried. The 26-year-old left-handed player has set the tone for Atlanta in the post-season and posted a 2.64 ERA through three starts while hitting 18 strokes in 17 innings. In Game 1, Fried knocked out nine while limiting the Dodgers to a six-innings run.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is expected to start Walker Buehler, who went five strokes over five innings in the series opener. Worth noting, Buehler has had a blister problem for the past few weeks and it has certainly affected his effectiveness. All in all, Buehler has gone 11th in three post-season starts.
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