The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers kicked off Game 1 of the NLCS in excellent fashion. The game was tightly contested until the final inning. Ultimately, Atlanta came out on top 5-1 to snatch a 1-0 series lead, backed by the strength of strong pitching and three home runs.
The Braves found their way into the NLCS with a commanding series sweep of the Miami Marlins in the NLDS as they pitched two straight shutouts to close it out. They made no roster changes ahead of the NLCS, clearly comfortable with what has worked thus far. The Dodgers also swept their side of the NLDS in commanding fashion over division rival San Diego Padres. They made a couple of additions to their roster ahead of the series; Alex Wood and Edwin Rios were added while removing Gavin Lux and Terrance Gore.
Atlanta jumped out to an early lead against Los Angeles ace Walker Buehler. Freddie Freeman smashed a bomb off Buehler in the top of the first. Max Fried took this lead and ran with it, as he cruised through four scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. Buehler settled down after the homer, as he got through five innings with seven strikeouts and three hits allowed. He had trouble with his control, issuing walks to five Braves hitters. However, he gave the Dodgers the opportunity to win the game as it was still just 1-0 when he exited the contest. He was replaced by rookie Brusdar Graterol, who escaped a jam with nobody out and two runners aboard. He sat down Dansby Swanson, Cristian Pache, and Nick Markakis in order. Pache had come into the game for Adam Duvall who left with an injury in the second inning.
The Dodgers capitalized on the only mistake Fried made all game in the fifth inning, when Enrique Hernandez led off the inning with a home run. Fried wound up getting through six innings, allowing just that one run with four hits and two walks while striking out nine. Chris Martin replaced Fried in the seventh frame and he pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Dustin May replaced Graterol in the eighth and worked his way into a bases-loaded jam. With two outs, Victor Gonzalez came in and struck out pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson swinging. The game stayed stagnant through one more half-inning as Will Smith came in and sat down the side in the bottom half of the eighth.
Dave Roberts went to Blake Treinen in the ninth inning, and the move immediately backfired. Austin Riley led the inning off with a homer as the Braves took a 2-1 lead. Even a one-run lead seemed huge in this game, but the Braves wound up adding three more. Marcell Ozuna came through with an RBI single to drive in Ronald Acuna Jr., who had doubled. That knocked Treinen out of the game, with Jake McGee replacing him. McGee got Travis d’Arnaud out before surrendering an Ozzie Albies long ball, a two-run shot that was Atlanta’s third home run of the night. Mark Melancon came in to close the game in the bottom half. He retired Max Muncy, Will Smith, and Cody Bellinger in order on three groundouts to secure the 5-1 victory and 1-0 series advantage.
Only two hitters had a multi-hit game and both of them were Braves. Ozuna and Albies were those two as the Braves outhit the Dodgers, 8-4. Outside of Treinen’s blowup, the Dodgers pitching staff had a solid game, but their offense offered little support. Atlanta’s bullpen was brilliant in shutting down the big boppers of the L.A. lineup. Martin, Smith, and Melancon combined for three shutout innings. If this series ultimately comes down to the bullpens, the Braves have a great chance of advancing to the World Series. Dave Roberts‘ bullpen management will be a major factor as this has done in the Dodgers during the past several postseasons.
The Braves and Dodgers meet for a critical Game 2 at 6:05 p.m. EST on Tuesday. Ian Anderson takes the bump for Atlanta. Tony Gonsolin toes the slab in place of Clayton Kershaw, who is a game day scratch for the Dodgers due to back spasms. The postseason prognosis for Duvall is not a good one after leaving in the second inning with an abdominal injury on a swing.
Manager Brian Snitker talked about it after the game: “I don’t expect the outcome to be good. He popped that thing pretty good… I hate it for him.”
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 6:05 p.m. EST
Stadium: Globe Life Park
Location: Arlington, TX
Braves’ Pitcher: Ian Anderson | 2-0, 0.00 ERA (postseason)
Dodgers’ Pitcher: Tony Gonsolin | 2-2, 2.31 ERA (regular season)
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