It would have been a tough sell trying to convince people that Austin Barnes would be the offensive MVP of Game 2 of the Wild Card round. With the likes of Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Justin Turner, Corey Seager and more, would Barnes seriously be the one who would deliver what would be the go-ahead RBI?
Well, in a season that has been unforgettable, Barnes delivered in the clutch on Thursday night for the Dodgers. His RBI with two outs in the fifth inning put the Dodgers ahead, as they went on to win the game and the series.
“That opened up the gates for us, with that knock,” Clayton Kershaw said. “Can’t say enough about him.”
Barnes almost didn’t get the opportunity to come up to the plate in the fifth. Brewers third baseman Luis Urias failed to complete a potential inning-ending double play when his throw to first was low and couldn’t be snagged. Instead of AJ Pollock ending the inning, Barnes came up with runners on first and second and two outs.
Brandon Woodruff jumped ahead in the counting, as Barnes fell behind. On the next pitch, Barnes took a fastball that was just outside. You could make the case for the call going either way, but it went in the Dodgers’ favor. That call proved to be costly for Milwaukee, as Barnes singled up the middle later in the at bat, bringing in the go-ahead run for LA.
“At the bottom of the lineup, you’re just trying to get on base,” Barnes said when asked about his at bat. “I wasn’t trying to do too much. He threw it up and away and I was lucky enough to find a hole. Runs were at a premium. With the way both guys were throwing the ball, it was huge.”
The Dodgers went on to win the game 3-0, with all three runs coming in that fifth inning. After Barnes gave his team the lead, Mookie Betts followed with a two-run double, putting LA ahead three runs.
There are a lot of ‘what-ifs’ from that inning. What if Urias turned a clean double play to end the inning? What if Woodruff got the call? What if Barnes struck out?
The way Kershaw was pitching, I don’t think Milwaukee had any chance to score that game. My guess is the Dodgers would have scored sooner rather than later, but who really knows in baseball. What matters is that Barnes delivered in the clutch, and the Dodgers will be moving on to the next round largely because of his at bat.
“Austin throughout his career has had a really good ability to look over a baseball and control the strike zone, and that’s exactly what he did in that at-bat,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He took a borderline call, a fastball away, got a pitch middle-middle and stayed through it. I’m really happy for Austin.”