At the start of the eighth inning of Game 3 of the NLCS, the Dodgers were down 5-2, and had a 7.9-percent chance to win the game, per the FanGraphs game log. When Justin Turner popped out to second base with a runner on, the Dodgers had just an 8.4-percent chance to win, and were five outs away from a 3-0 series deficit to the Braves.
“We were dead in the water. You could see it,” manager Dave Roberts said.
AJ Pollock singled, bringing up Cody Bellinger as the tying run. The win expectancy here was 13.8 percent. Better, but still dire.
Bellinger fell behind 1-2 against Luke Jackson, who was throwing 97 mph. He was a tick below that on his fourth pitch, which was up near Bellinger’s eyes.
“Not a hitter’s pitch right there,” Bellinger said. “Just one of those things. The ball’s coming in hard, some shadows you’re dealing with. I saw it well, and just tried to barrel it up, and tried to get Will [Smith, on second base] home.”
Chills. pic.twitter.com/AKcC4NPXvB— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 20, 2021
“This was a freaking big hit,” Roberts said.
“Sad thing is I’d do the same thing again,” Jackson said.
Bellinger’s home run gave the Dodgers life, but their work wasn’t done. The win expectancy at this point — 5-5, with one out in the eighth — was 55.9 percent. That jumped to 65.1 percent after Chris Taylor singled and stole second base, and when Mookie Betts doubled the Dodgers had an 86.4-percent chance to win.
The FanGraphs win expectancy chart for this game was wild.
Between Corey Seager’s home run in the first inning of Game 2 through seven innings in Game 3, the Dodgers had six hits in 53 at-bats.
They had six hits in nine at-bats in the eighth inning on Tuesday.
“We’re facing good pitchers. It was only a matter of time before we strung some hits together,” Bellinger said. “We’ve been in that situation before. It’s just baseball. It’s never ever going to be easy and just handed to us. We have to fight for it.”
Just how rare was the Dodgers’ comeback? Sarah Langs from MLB.com explains:
This was the 82nd time in Dodgers postseason history that they trailed by 3+ runs in the 8th inning or later— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 20, 2021
It's the first time they won such a game
Bellinger’s home run still resonated an hour after he hit it.
“It just flipped everything,” Roberts said. “We’ve got a very good ball club but we just needed that kind of shot in the arm. I’m expecting it to carry over to tomorrow.”