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Will Smith, Dodgers beat Braves in Game 5 of NLCS, stay alive



Will Smith versus Will Smith. It was an appropriate match for a game-changing moment in Major League Baseball’s crooked 2020 season.

With his team after a run, Will Smith, the catcher for the Dodgers, tried to continue the momentum his club had created towards elimination. Will Smith, the left-handed reliever for the Atlanta Braves, tried to wiggle free from a mess in the sixth inning of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series Friday night.

The clash ended at the sixth pitch – a 3-2, 94-mph fastball ̵

1; after the hitter, Will Smith, dismissed three tight lanes as if he knew what the other Will Smith was thinking.

The place was not badly located; it shot to the inside of the plate above the knees. But Will Smith, the hitter, expected the placement after getting four consecutive spots inside. So he dropped his hands and tapped baseball.

Both Will Smiths knew the result outside of bats. The jug does not bother to look. The hitter could not stop looking. He saw the ball throughout his course as he ran to first base with bat in hand. He turned the timber as the ball landed over the left field wall for a three-run home run to give the Dodgers their first lead in a 7-3, season-saving victory at Globe Life Field.

Dodgers catcher Will Smith hits a three-run home run from Braves reliever Will Smith in Game 5 of the NLCS.

“I will always bet on our Will Smith,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

Corey Seager squeezed Smith’s power screen with two home runs and three RBIs. He is the first shortstop to hit four home runs in a playoff series of any length. Mookie Betts collected two hits, drove in the Dodgers second run and made the defensive play. Six relievers combined to give a run in seven innings after Dustin May lasted just two. Kenley Jansen, the besieged former closer, flashed increased speed and slammed into the side in the ninth to seal the result.

Dodgers' Corey Seager (5) returns to the excavation after hitting a two-run home run in the seventh inning on October 16, 2020.

Dodgers’ Corey Seager (5) returns to the excavation after hitting a two-run home run in the seventh inning – his second homer in the game.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Braves now lead the series 3-2. Game 6 is Saturday. Max Fried starts in Atlanta. The Dodgers again give the ball to Walker Buehler with their season on the line.

“The whole goal is to win,” Seager said. “We have not done that yet.”

The Braves scheduled a bullpen game Friday. The Dodgers did not. And yet the Dodgers went into a disastrous development first to their bullpen. They hoped May could give them between 75 and 90 spots through the sixth inning, but he threw 55 spots in two innings before being drawn.

The novice right-hander got no favors in the first place. Freddie Freeman doubled a ball that first baseman Max Muncy could have stopped. Freeman advanced to third on a pass from Smith and scored on Travis d’Arnaud’s sacrificial fly to put Atlanta on the board first.

The Braves scored again in the second half when Cristian Pache – after failing to drop a sacrificial bundle – lined up a hanging 0-2 curve ball to the center field for an RBI single. It was one of the 19 basket balls that May threw in his outing – an unusual ratio for the right-hand man who threw a basket ball only 13.4% of the time in the regular season.

Highlights from the Dodgers’ 7-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLCS on Friday.

AJ Minter, meanwhile, ousted the Dodgers in his start when he threw five innings against Nebraska for Texas A&M in 2015. Before the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker said the club wanted an inning from Minter. He instead gave Atlanta three dominant innings. Left-handed allowed a baserunner – Justin Turner doubled – and compiled seven strikes, getting his last five outs that way.

But the game changed when Minter left the mound. It was the same formula that the Dodgers used to start their only second win in the series: Betts made a crowd and a replay review that went straight to Los Angeles.

In Game 3, Betts knocked out a single to lead out of the game. The excavation broke out when the call was reversed. The Dodgers then became the first team to score 11 runs in a post-season inning.

On Friday, the Braves, who already led by two, welcomed Joe Kelly with two singles to begin the third inning. After a groundout, the runners moved to second and third, Dansby Swanson lifted a flying ball to low right field. Betts jumped in, reached up to his feet and caught the ball before touching a blade of artificial turf.

Marcell Ozuna scored from third base and beat Betts’ throw to give Atlanta a seemingly 3-0 lead. But the Dodgers were confident Ozuna was leaving too soon. They appealed, but third base judge Will Little ruled that Ozuna traveled on time. A review revealed the truth: Ozuna jumped off the bag before Betts caught the ball. He was barred from completing an inning end double and deleting a run.

“It’s the game of the year for me,” Roberts said.

Moments later, with left-hander Tyler Matzek on the mound to Atlanta, Seager belted a 415-foot home run to immediately center field to lead the fourth inning. It was a two-run turn in a matter of minutes. Dodgers, down 2-1, did not look back.

The pitcher Will Smith entered the game with a runner on second base and two outs in the sixth inning. He got behind Muncy 3-0 before Muncy took two strikes. Muncy does not settle at all; he took a fastball to ball four. Betts called it the game. It set the stage for the first meeting of the same name in postseason history.

“It’s a common enough name,” said Smith, who went to high school with another person named Will Smith and was not impressed with the development.

It ended with Will Smith, the normally reserved catch, scrambling the biggest home run of his life from another man named Will Smith. He issued a roar before smashing first base coach George Lombard’s hand in celebration. Half of the 11,119 present broke out. The Dodgers’ season was alive.




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