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Dodgers dial up long ball, shut out Braves behind Hyun-Jin Ryu

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MLB: NLDS-Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers did what they do best Thursday night, clubbing a trio of homers on their way to a 6-0 win over the Braves. The big blow came in the second inning on a majestic three-run blast from Max Muncy that landed a few rows deep into the right field pavilion.

When they hit at least three homers in the regular season, the Dodgers were 27-1. It only makes sense that the offense that produced the second most home runs in baseball (235), hit three more to start the postseason.

The Dodgers now have the luxury of a 1-0 lead in the series with Clayton Kershaw taking the ball in Game 2.

Hyun-Jin Ryu made any fear of starting him in Game 1 over Kershaw disappear with seven shutout innings. The lefty was stingy, allowing four singles and no walks while striking out eight.

By the time the Braves had strung together back-to-back singles in the fifth inning, Ryu had set down 14 of the first 15 Atlanta hitters, including 12 in a row.

At 72 pitches and a pinch hitter away from turning the lineup over for the Braves, the bullpen started moving around. But before they could even take their jackets off, Ryu induced an inning-ending fly ball on the first pitch to Kurt Suzuki.

The big lefty allowed just one more hit the rest of the way, retiring seven of the last eight he faced. In 10 starts at Dodger Stadium in 2018, Ryu now owns a 1.02 ERA in 61 23 innings.

“(Ryu) pitched well,” said Dodger manager Dave Roberts. “He had command to both sides of the plate, command of the secondary. He was in control. There was a lot of soft contact. He was doing what he wanted to do, missing bats, the no-walk, and really competed well. It was good to see, and we needed that one.”

Joc Pederson immediately gave his pitcher some support by putting the Dodgers on the board with a solo homer on the third pitch he saw, surprising nobody on his own team. The 26-year-old set a franchise record with eight leadoff homers during the regular season, passing the mark set by Davey Lopes in 1979.

The Dodgers were on top of Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz from the start, knocking him from the game after two innings. After Pederson’s home run, Justin Turner doubled and Max Muncy walked. 10 pitches in and Los Angeles had a 1-0 lead and threatening for more.

Two batters later, Cody Bellinger walked to load the bases for Yasiel Puig. But the Dodger right fielder swung through a 97-mph fastball to become the third strikeout victim for Foltynewicz. Despite a 28-pitch first, the deficit could’ve been much worse for the visiting team.

The Braves’ right-hander looked like he had rebounded from the long first inning, getting the first two hitters in the second. However, it came off the rails again when the Dodgers went back to the top of the lineup.

Foltynewicz hit Pederson on an 0-2 pitch and walked Turner to set the table for Muncy. The Dodger first baseman launched the 97-mph fastball over the wall in center to give his club a comfortable 4-0 lead.

Braves’ manager Brian Snitker would only allow his starter to throw four more pitches to get out of the second inning, going to lefty Sean Newcomb for the third. Atlanta would need six pitchers to get through eight innings.

Kiké Hernandez provided an insurance run in the sixth inning, lining a ball into the left field seats to push the lead to five. And for good measure, they would tack on a run in the eighth on a David Freese pinch-hit sac fly.

That was more than enough for the bullpen, who completed two scoreless innings in relief to shut the door.

“We’re playing really good baseball,” said Roberts. “All of September I think we’ve all kind of come together — offensively, defensively, starting pitching, the pen — and this is when you want to play your best baseball.”

“We’re healthy, and this is a very focused and determined group.”

Maximum Muncy

Besides crushing another dinger Thursday, Muncy also walked three times to reach base in all four plate appearances. This caused quite a comparison.

Muncy even had a stolen base, which only one on this list (Murray) can claim.

Up Next

Dodgers look to take a 2-0 lead in the series with Clayton Kershaw on the mound against right-hander Anibal Sanchez.

Thursday Particulars

Home Runs: Pederson (1), Muncy (1), Hernandez (1)

WP: Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-0): 7 IP, 4 hits, 8 strikeouts

LP: Mike Foltynewicz (0-1): 2 IP, 3 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts