The Dodgers’ MLB-best offense sleepwalked through the first 15 innings of this NLCS. They finally came alive late and showed their might, but the comeback fell just short in an 8-7 loss to the Braves in Game 2 of the NLCS win on Tuesday night at Globe Life Field,
Atlanta, after exhaling, owns a 2-0 series lead.
The Braves put up two crooked numbers in Game 2, and led 7-0 into the seventh inning.
The Dodgers also put up two crooked numbers, and incredibly got the tying run to third base in the ninth inning.
A three-run home run by Corey Seager in the seventh inning put them on the board, and Max Muncy homered in a four-run ninth. Cody Bellinger tripled to pull the Dodgers within a run, but A.J. Pollock grounded out to end the comeback to strand Bellinger.
It was too little, too late.
The Dodgers were the third team to try scoring against Braves rookie Ian Anderson this postseason, and were the third team to fail in that quest. The right-hander has a spotless ERA in 15⅔ innings this October, with 22 strikeouts.
Sure, Anderson walked a career-high five (this was his ninth major league start) and was pulled after 85 pitches in four innings. That must have been incredible consolation for the Dodgers as they watched the Braves round the bases repeatedly.
Tony Gonsolin began his first postseason game on fire, retiring his first nine batters faced, with four strikeouts. It was an excellent start, especially considering that Gonsolin lasted pitched in a real game 17 days ago. The delay was through no fault of his own. The Dodgers just swept both of their shorter series, failing to provide any games for Gonsolin to pitch.
But the cost was heavy in Gonsolin’s second time through the Braves order. A walk to Ronald Acuña Jr. to open the fourth inning was followed by Freddie Freeman crushing a down-and-in pitch into the seats for the second night in a row, giving Atlanta a 2-0 lead.
Gonsolin’s second time through the lineup was a minefield, littered with that homer, a double, single, and two walks, then he walked Acuña again to end his night. When Gonsolin exited, the Dodgers trailed 3-0. Pedro Báez provided no relief, allowing a single, two walks, and a rocket to center field that was caught for a sacrifice fly, giving Atlanta a 6-0 lead.
The first inning featured a pair of ridiculous web gems, one in each half of the frame. Chris Taylor robbed Marcell Ozuna of a single with a tremendous dive up the middle. In the bottom of the inning the Dodgers had two runners on and two outs when Austin Riley picked a scorcher at third base, then Freeman made an acrobatic catch at first base, somehow keeping a toe in the bag to rob Will Smith for the final out.
Ozuna’s 95.8-mph smash had an expected batting average of .550 per Baseball Savant, while Smith had an exit velocity of 100.8 mph and an xBA of .540. Such is life.
One one hand, it seems ridiculous to fret over the Dodgers’ first two losses of the postseason. After all, two wins is not four wins, so the NLCS is by no means over. Down 7-0 in this game, they didn’t quit, and forced the Braves to use closer Mark Melancon for a second straight night.
“This team’s got a lot of fight. We’ve done it all year. We were one swing, one anything away from tying the game,” Seager said. “It’s never over until it’s over.”
If there’s a team that is built to win four out of five, it’s the Dodgers. After all, the Braves have to run out of former first-round draftee starting pitchers at some point, right?
Game 2 particulars
Home run: Corey Seager (2), Max Muncy (1); Freddie Freeman (2), Ozzie Albies (2)
WP — Tyler Matzek (1-0): 2 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP — Tony Gonsolin (0-1): 4⅓ IP, 3 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
Sv — Mark Melancon (2): ⅓ IP, 1 hit
Julio Urías gets the start in Game 3 on Wednesday (3:05 p.m. PT, FS1), with Kyle Wright on the mound for the Braves. Game times for the remainder of the series have been announced as well.