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Braves tee off on Dodgers bullpen in 9th to take Game 1 of the NLCS

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Blake Treinen and Jake McGee allowed homers in a decisive 4-run ninth inning

National League Championship Series Game 1: Atlanta Braves v. Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Kelly Gavin/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Runs were at a premium on Monday night, until the ninth inning anyway. Blake Treinen and Jake McGee allowed rockets for four runs in the ninth inning, breaking a tie in a 5-1 Braves win over the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS.

After a three-game division series that produced only three home runs, Globe Life Field yielded four on Monday. Solo shots provided the first three runs of the game, including Austin Riley’s very loud home run to open the ninth.

Treinen, who pitched in all three games of the NLDS, only the second time a Dodger pitched in three straight days this season, faced only four batters in the NLCS opener, retiring just one.

His first three hitters faced hit rockets off him (from Baseball Savant):

  • Riley 109.8-mph home run
  • Ronald Acuna Jr. 105.8-mph double
  • Freddie Freeman 104.6-mph flyout to center

Freeman’s ball allowed Acuña to advance to third, then Marcell Ozuna drove him home and drove Treinen out of the game with a 3-1 lead.

“I just felt that run right there [of Braves hitters] was good for Blake, and he’s going to have to do it again. It just didn’t work out,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But I trust he’s going to get those guys out.”

Jake McGee entered, making his first appearance this postseason, and surrendered a two-out home run to Ozzie Albies, a 106.3-mph blast, to expand the lead to four runs.

Incremental progress

Roberts said he expected Walker Buehler to be more efficient than his last time out, and in a way he was, and not just for not wasting a square inch of fabric in his pants. After throwing 95 pitches in five innings in Game 1 of the NLDS, he was at 94 pitches through five innings on Monday.

Buehler walked a career-high five though, one more than last week, but still managed to hold Atlanta to only one run, a solo home run by Freeman in the first inning, through five innings, thanks to seven strikeouts. That home run was the only hit allowed by Buehler until singles to his first two batters faced in the sixth.

That Buehler was even allowed to start the sixth was telling, considering the five walks and that he pitched exactly four innings in his previous three starts after getting activated from the injured list.

“I gotta stop walking guys and get deeper into games,” Buehler said after the game. “Physically I feel good and I was happy to get a little deeper into a game, but I have to do more.”

The blister issue, according to Tom Verducci on the Fox broadcast, included Buehler covering not just his right index finger but his middle finger as well during a bullpen session Saturday. But despite all that, in Game 1 of the NLCS Buehler was the first Dodgers pitcher all season, in their 66th game, to throw 100 pitches.

Roberts confirmed after the game that Buehler has been dealing with two blisters for about a month.

“They kind of take turns,” Roberts said. “But I do feel we came out of it really well today.”

Key moments

Buehler left a 1-1 game with runners on first and second and nobody out in the sixth inning. But both runners could have been in scoring position, at least, were it not for Mookie Betts expertly playing Travis d’Arnaud’s — you know, the slugging former Dodger who bats cleanup for the Braves — ball into the right field corner into a single instead of extra bases.

But it was still a jam, and Brusdar Graterol proved up to the task, needing only six pitches to induce a pop out, strikeout, and comebacker to end the threat. On Graterol’s final out, he took a batted ball off the palm of his right hand, which was why he wasn’t sent out for the seventh inning. Roberts said Graterol would be available to pitch on Tuesday.

Max Fried was wonderful for the Braves, striking out nine in his six innings. His only run allowed was a fifth-inning homer by Kiké Hernández, validating Roberts’ decision to start him for the first time this postseason.

That was the Dodgers’ only run of the game.

“I thought the first two innings we did a really nice job, and then the second time through we got a little bit out of our game,” manager Dave Roberts said. “To [Fried’s] credit, he just kept nibbling and spinning us to death, and got through six.”

Dustin May was used in relief in this one, recording five outs in the seventh and eighth. He worked around a leadoff double in the eighth, exacerbated by an intentional walk and hitting Pablo Sandoval with a pitch. In came Victor Gonzalez with the bases loaded, and the rising rookie struck out old friend Charlie Culberson on four pitches to keep things tied.

Injury news

Braves left fielder Adam Duvall injured his left oblique on a swing in the second inning and had to leave in the middle of an at-bat. The way Braves manager Brian Snitker talked about the injury during an in-game on the Fox broadcast, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Duvall would have to be replaced on the roster.

“I think he did it pretty good, too,” Snitker said.

Game 1 info

Home runs: Kiké Hernandez (1); Freddie Freeman (1), Austin Riley (1), Ozzie Albies (1)

WP — Will Smith (2-0): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

LP — Blake Treinen (0-1): ⅓ IP, 3 hits, 3 runs

Up next

Clayton Kershaw gets the start in Game 2 on Tuesday night, with an earlier start time on a different network for the next two days (3:05 p.m. PT, FS1). Ian Anderson starts for the Braves, making his ninth major league start.