In another game fraught with drama, inaccuracies and questionable decisions, the Atlanta Braves defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 on Sunday at Truist Park to take a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series and move to midway through his first World Series appearance since 1999.
Puerto Rican outfielder Eddie Rosario went 3-for-4 and drove in the winning run with a single off Kenley Jansen that shortstop Corey Seager couldn’t handle as the Braves left the Dodgers on the ground for the second night in a row, the first time anything. This has been the case since 2014, when the Kansas City Royals swept the Baltimore Orioles.
The playoff will rest on Monday, to resume Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, where Wednesday and Thursday games are guaranteed. In Game 3, rights Charlie Morton and Walker Buehler will start for the Dodgers and Braves, respectively.
Atlanta took a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers in the league final for the second year in a row. Since a 7-4 format was adopted in 1985, teams that won the first two games advanced to the fall classic 22 of 35 times (63%). One of the exceptions occurred last October, when the Dodgers rallied from being down 1-3.
“We’re going to Los Angeles 2-0, but we still have two more games to win,” said Rosario, an Atlanta acquisition in the final months of the season hitting .409 (22-9) with three RBIs in six games of the postseason.
Rosario is the fifth player with four hits, including one to put the opponent on the field, in postseason history.
“I feel like that was the guy who needed to be there tonight,” said third baseman Austin Riley, who decided Saturday’s game in the ninth and tied Sunday’s game in the eighth.
With Los Angeles winning 4-2 in the eighth inning, the Dodgers appealed to Mexican left-hander Julio Urias, the designated pitcher, to start Game 4 on Wednesday in a relief role. Urías allowed three hits and two runs that tied the score 4-4, spoiling the strategy.
A Riley double over the head of the center fielder pushed Curazolean 2B Ozzie Albies from second base, who in turn had sent Rosario to the plate, who scored on a close sweep that required confirmation from the replay center in New York.
“Julio was also available last night. It was a perfect spot for him in eighth place to then have Kenley in ninth,” Roberts said, defending his move. The manager also confirmed that Urías will be a starting pitcher with two days off.
“No problem. Julio will be fine,” Roberts said.
The reality is that if the Dodgers’ offense doesn’t heat up in Los Angeles, then there will be trouble. The team is hitting .233 in eight games in the postseason and 65-14 in the Championship Series.
Before third baseman Chris Taylor hit a double that produced two rounds in the seventh against reliever Luke Jackson, the Dodgers were 40-4 with runners in scoring position in their last five games.
The Dodgers scored two runs with the game’s first two batters, a single by Mookie Betts and a home run by Seager, off Ian Anderson, who only pitched three innings. In six postseason starts in the past two years, Anderson has allowed no runs and has 23 strikeouts in 16.2 innings against his other rivals, but four rounds, 10 walks and nine strikeouts in nine innings against the Dodgers.
Atlanta tied 2-2 at the end of the quarter. With one out, Riley traded walk and outfielder Joc Pederson, a former Dodgers member, unloaded a monumental 454-foot spike through right field against right-hander Max Scherzer.
Pederson has 11 playoff homers in the past five years, tied with the Dodgers’ Justin Turner for the NL lead. Seager is third with 10.
After Scherzer struck out pinch-hitter Orlando Arcia with a runner at first base with no out in the fifth inning, Roberts relieved the Los Angeles starter with 79 pitches and 4.1 innings. Only one (Max Fried, 6.0 IL on Saturday) of the first four starters pitched at least five innings in the end of the old circuit.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, starting pitchers are averaging four innings so far in the current major league postseason.