Dodgers have tables turned in stunning Game 4 blowout
ARLINGTON, Texas — The pitching matchup, all eyes and computers agreed, was one of the biggest mismatches possible this deep into October.
On one side, the Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw, a future Hall of Famer, making his 28th postseason start in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. On the other, Bryse Wilson, a 22-year-old rookie with a career ERA approaching a touchdown, was making his playoff debut for the Atlanta Braves.
The Dodgers’ superior pitching depth was supposed to shine for the second consecutive night. The Braves were supposed to take a few rough hours and move on. Instead, Wilson dominated over six innings, Kershaw’s gas tank emptied in another forgettable postseason performance, and the bullpen combusted in the Dodgers’ 10-2 loss at a windy Globe Life Field on Thursday.
Suddenly, and unexpectedly, the Dodgers, owners of the regular season’s best record, are facing a 3-1 series deficit. They must win three games in three days to keep their World Series hopes alive. Game 5 is scheduled for Friday at 6:08 p.m. PDT.
Hernández: Clayton Kershaw doesn’t deserve all the blame
The disaster unfolded in slow motion. Ronald Acuña’s chopper bouncing over Clayton Kershaw’s outstretched glove. Acuña reaching first base, followed by an injury delay during which the outfielder’s left wrist was examined by a trainer. Acuña taking second base because Kiké Hernández’s throw on the infield single bounced down a set of stairs leading to the Dodgers clubhouse. Acuña scoring on a double to right by Freddie Freeman.
By the time Marcell Ozuna was stepping into the batter’s box, anyone familiar with Kershaw’s postseason history could sense what was about to happen.
Another run-scoring double, this one into the vacant space in left-center field.
And this when Kershaw departed the game, his team down by two runs in the sixth inning and his head bowed in defeat. The Dodgers were on their way to a 10-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves, which would move them to within a game of elimination in this National League Championship Series.
Kershaw was the pitcher of record, but this setback wasn’t entirely on him.
This was on the Dodgers offense, which couldn’t score against a 22-year-old pitcher with a career ERA of 5.91.
Braves still haven’t named Game 5 starter
The Braves head into Friday’s league championship series game with a 3-1 advantage. And they haven’t named a starter for the game that could clinch the best-of-seven series.
Manager Brian Snitker said the team hadn’t made a decision by the end of Thursday’s 10-2 defeat of the Dodgers. The only thing he could say for certain about Game 5 was that Max Fried, who struck out nine and gave up one run on four hits in the series opener Monday, would not be pitching on short rest.
The Braves could go the route of a bullpen game. Their top relievers are rested thanks to the four-inning effort of Huascar Ynoa in Game 3 and the offensive barrage coupled with the six-inning performance by rookie Bryse Wilson in Game 4.
Dodgers fail to keep momentum in Game 4 loss
Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood said before Thursday’s game that he and his teammates were jolted back to reality after the Braves “punched us in the face those first two games.”
The effects of the punch only lasted for one night. After routing the Braves in Game 3, the Dodgers fell by eight runs in Game 4 Thursday.
After the Dodgers’ 10-2 defeat, the Braves lead the NLCS, 3-1. The Dodgers are on the brink of elimination. A loss Friday would send the Braves to the World Series and the Dodgers home to Los Angeles.
Braves score two in eighth; Dodgers enter ninth trailing by eight
It’s another lopsided night in Texas. Marcell Ozuna knocked home his fourth RBI of the night with a single in the eighth.
The Dodgers enter the ninth trailing 10-2. AJ Pollock, Cody Bellinger and Edwin Ríos are due up against Braves reliever Shane Greene.
Dodgers trail Braves by seven in the eighth
Dylan Floro was one play away from pitching a perfect eighth inning. On a two-out groundball to short, first baseman Matt Beaty, who replaced Max Muncy in the seventh inning, failed to pick the throw from Corey Seager. The error allowed Cristian Pache to reach. Floro then issued a walk to Ronald Acuña Jr.
Jake McGee relieved Floro and surrendered an RBI single to Freddie Freeman on his sixth pitch.
The Braves lead 9-2 now.
Marcell Ozuna’s success changed Braves manager’s tune on DH in National League
Had he been asked a year ago, Braves manager Brian Snitker guesses he would have been in the camp opposed to introducing the designated hitter to the National League.
But after watching slugger Marcell Ozuna excel as a part-time defensive player, Snitker said earlier this week he sees the appeal of adopting the American League style of play beyond this shortened season.
Ozuna, whose defensive adventures have both been ridiculed and applauded, started 39 games at DH compared to 21 in the outfield. He hit .362 with 14 of his league-leading 18 homers when he had no fielding responsibilities. He hit .291 with four homers when playing on defense.
As a group, Braves’ designated hitters led all of baseball with a 1.000 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. The Dodgers’ deep bench enabled manager Dave Roberts to rotate through the DH slot twice as many players as the Braves — but the group was nowhere near as productive. Dodgers designated hitters combined for a .786 OPS.
Very few pitchers hit well, Snitker said before adding, “I’m not so sure having the DH isn’t gonna be good for this whole [game].”
Ozuna had just two hits in his first 13 plate appearances of this series. He has broken out of the mini-slump in game 4, hitting two homers and an RBI double after beginning his night with an inning-ending double play in the first.
Braves’ Marcell Ozuna takes another Dodger pitcher deep
It took no time for the Braves to take back the run they surrendered in the seventh inning. Marcell Ozuna crushed Dodgers reliever Dylan Floro’s third pitch of the inning. The ball flew over the center-field fence. It was Ozuna’s second homer of the night.
The Braves lead 8-2.
Dodgers leave bases loaded in seventh, trail Braves 7-2
Will Smith finally came to the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh inning...but he did nothing with the opportunity. With two out and three on, Smith scorched the fifth pitch of his at-bat against Braves reliever Chris Martin up the middle and right into the glove of second baseman Ozzie Albies.
The Dodgers haven’t done much offensively of late.
Edwin Ríos’ sacrifice fly cuts Dodgers’ deficit to five runs
Edwin Ríos is carrying the Dodgers. His sacrifice fly to center field sent home the team’s first run since he homered in the third. The Braves lead 7-2 with two out in the seventh.
Ríos has driven in both of the Dodgers’ runs tonight.
Dodgers load bases with one out in seventh
The Dodgers are trying to cook up a comeback.
With left-hander Will Smith on the mound, Justin Turner singled and Max Muncy walked to start the seventh inning.
AJ Pollock, who hit .345 with seven homers against left-handers during the regular season, was next to the plate, pinch-hitting for Joc Pederson.
He almost cranked his first homer of the postseason, driving the eighth pitch of his at-bat to deep right field. But the ball died on the warning track.
No matter. Cody Bellinger drew a walk to load the bases with one out.
Smith was replaced by Braves manager Brian Snitker for Chris Martin.
Freddie Freeman grounds out to end a half-hour-long inning
Roughly 30 minutes later, the Braves are finally done batting. Dodgers reliever Victor González got a groundball out from El Modena High product Freddie Freeman to end the long sixth inning.
The Braves scored six runs in the inning. For the game, they are 6 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
Braves extend inning, lead against Dodgers’ Victor González
Rookie Cristian Pache kept the Braves’ parade going. After Victor González issued a walk to his batter, Pache drilled a single up the middle to score Austin Riley and push Atlanta’s advantage to 7-1 in the sixth.
Gonzalez retired Ronald Acuña Jr., who started this rally with an infield single, for the second out.
This inning feels awfully familiar...
Brusdar Graterol inherited a runner. He didn’t strand him this time
Brusdar Graterol has been one of the Dodgers’ best relievers this postseason, partly because of his ability to enter “dirty” innings and clean up a teammate’s mess.
He wasn’t able to do that for Clayton Kershaw. After recording an out, Graterol gave up a hard-hit single to Ozzie Albies, which scored Marcell Ozuna. Dansby Swanson followed with a RBI double to left.
Austin Riley then smacked a single up the middle, extending the Braves’ lead to 6-1.
Dave Roberts just summoned from the bullpen the Dodgers’ third pitcher of the sixth inning. It’s Victor González’s turn. He enters with one out and a runner on first base.
Back-to-back doubles end Clayton Kershaw’s night
Clayton Kershaw is out of the game after surrendering a second consecutive double to a Braves hitter. Marcell Ozuna’s extra-base hit split the fielders in left-center and traveled deep enough for Freddie Freeman to extend the Braves’ lead to 3-1 in the sixth inning.
Kershaw did not retire a batter in the inning. Brusdar Graterol is in and he is tasked with stranding the Braves’ third base-runner of the inning.
Braves’ Freddie Freeman hits go-ahead double off Clayton Kershaw
Freddie Freeman had no trouble turning on the fastball Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw threw him on the inner edge of the plate in the sixth inning. Freeman, a National League MVP contender, drilled the 1-2 pitch past first baseman Max Muncy for an RBI double.
Ronald Acuña Jr. scored before Mookie Betts could get the ball back into the infield.
Ronald Acuña Jr. hurts wrist on infield single
Young Braves star and leadoff hitter Ronald Acuña Jr. took a tumble after legging out an infield single to start the sixth inning. He knelt on the ground for a few moments before being tended to by team trainers.
Acuña remains in the game at second base, which he was awarded because of Kiké Hernández’s throwing error on the play.
Dodgers can’t find much luck vs. Braves’ Bryse Wilson
Mookie Betts roped a sinking line drive to right field in the sixth inning. Like so many other pitches put in play by Dodgers hitters Thursday, it was caught. Betts and his teammates were retired in order — again — by Braves rookie Bryse Wilson.
Through six innings, Wilson pitched with traffic on the bases just one time. The right-hander handcuffed the Dodgers with his 97 mph fastball, which he threw as hard as 100.4 mph. The pitch produced five swings and misses and was called for strikes six times. In all, Wilson generated eight whiffs.
It appears the 22-year-old is done for the night. He was spotted hugging teammates.
Braves are ready to remove rookie Bryse Wilson
Braves rookie Bryse Wilson might be on a short leash when he begins his third trip through the Dodgers’ order.
Clayton Kershaw retired the Braves in order in the fifth. The game remains 1-1 heading to the sixth inning.
Braves rookie Bryse Wilson impresses, strikes out side in fifth
The Dodgers might have thought they’d get the upper hand after the Braves trotted out a rookie starter for the third straight game. But Bryse Wilson has impressed through five innings. He just struck out Cody Bellinger, Edwin Ríos and Kiké Hernández in a perfect fifth.
Since giving up Ríos’ homer in the third, Wilson has retired nine of 10.
Wilson, 22, just passed the 60-pitch mark. He has almost completed his second time through the batting order. Will his manager give him a chance to face Dodgers hitters a third time? Stay tuned...
Clayton Kershaw gives up game-tying homer to Marcell Ozuna
Marcell Ozuna grabbed hold of Clayton Kershaw’s down-and-in slider in the fourth inning and swatted it to left field for a solo homer and a 1-1 tie.
It was no cheap shot. The ball left Ozuna’s bat at 109 mph.
Ozuna, the Braves’ designated hitter who slugged a league-leading 18 homers in the regular season, had been held hitless in his last 10 plate appearances of this series.
Kershaw issued a walk to Travis d'Arnaud after the homer but made it to dugout without further damage.
Gusts haven’t slowed in Texas
A breeze is still rustling jerseys and whipping the locks of long-haired Braves and Dodgers. Players seem to have adapted to the conditions.
But play is still being affected by the wind. Joc Pederson might have a had a two-run home run in the fourth on a flyball he drove 411 feet to center field. Instead, he made the third out of the inning.
Dodgers’ Edwin Ríos homers in his first at-bat of the game
The Dodgers have taken a 1-0 lead in the third thanks to Edwin Ríos’ leadoff homer to right field.
Ríos launched Bryse Wilson’s hanging 94 mph fastball 399 feet.
Clayton Kershaw through two on 33 pitches
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw has surrendered a hit in each inning but he hasn’t otherwise faltered. The Braves have put five balls in play, and pretty much all have been softly-hit.
Roof at Globe Life Field will remain open despite conditions
According to the National Weather Service, the wind is gusting up to 21 mph in Arlington, Texas.
But it doesn’t seem there are plans to close the retractable roof at Globe Life Field.
Wind is whipping in Arlington
We might be in for a weird one. The wind is whipping in Arlington, Texas, where the roof remains open at Globe Life Field. The gusts make for interesting images. Clayton Kershaw jersey, pants and hair blew to the side the entire time he was on the mound in a scoreless first inning.
According to the FOX broadcast, players are actively trying to combat the wind. Freddie Freeman of the Braves told his teammates he couldn’t see after he struck out in the first inning. He put on protective glasses before returning to first base in the second inning.
Max Muncy seemed bothered during his second-inning strikeout as well.
Dodgers go quietly in the first
The Dodgers did not reprise Wednesday’s first-inning performance in Game 4. Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Justin Turner were retired in order by rookie Bryse Wilson to start the game.
Betts did put a charge into his flyout to center field. The ball left his bat at 104 mph.
Meet Bryse Wilson, the Braves’ NLCS game 4 starter
It’s time for yet another Braves rookie to take the mound in the postseason.
This time, the onus falls on Bryse Wilson to keep the heavy-hitting Dodgers off the board.
Wilson, 22, last pitched in a game on Sept. 27. Like Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers, Wilson has kept loose by throwing bullpens or pitching in simulated games. Despite not throwing more than 77 pitches in either of his final regular-season starts, he could throw as many 110 pitches Thursday, manager Brian Snitker said.
Wilson gave up seven earned runs over 15 ⅔ innings in the regular season. Opponents hit .286. The right-hander did, however, limit hard contact. The average exit velocity of balls put in play against him was 89.7 mph.
Now it’s time for a fun fact from the Braves’ pre-game notes: Wilson and Game 2 starter Ian Anderson are the second set of teammates in history to start games in a league championship series before turning 23. Don Gullett and Ross Grimsley of the 1972 Cincinnati Reds were the first.
What to know about Dodgers-Braves NLCS game 4
First pitch: 5:08 p.m. PDT
Dodgers notes: Clayton Kershaw is ready to go after being scratched from his Game 2 start because of back spasms. Thursday marks the left-hander’s 10th NLCS start of his career. In his last outing, he gave up three runs and struck out six without issuing a walk. ... The Dodgers have five left-handers in the lineup, including four straight in the middle of the order. ... Shortstop Corey Seager went 3 for 4 with a double, homer, three runs scored and three RBI in the first four innings of the Dodgers’ 15-3 rout Wednesday. He is now 11 for 30 this postseason.
Braves notes: Because of rookie Huascar Ynoa’s gutsy four-inning relief performance Wednesday, the Braves’ bullpen is actually in good shape heading for Game 4. But manager Brian Snitker still is counting on rookie starter Bryse Wilson to provide length. ... Before the Dodgers’ too-late rally in a Game 2 loss, Braves pitchers had only yielded six runs in their previous 64 innings. But the six innings that followed? A whopping 22 runs. ... Facing Kershaw is a nightmare scenario for the Braves. The Dodgers ace has gone 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA (15 earned runs in 68 2/3 innings) and 72 strikeouts in 10 starts against the Braves. ... But the Braves have a good counter in second baseman Ozzie Albies, who is batting 6 for 13 in this series, including a 4 for 6 mark with a double and two homers against left-handers.
Dodgers’ Julio Urías is most likely done for NLCS after five-inning start in Game 3
The Dodgers had a 14-run lead through three innings Wednesday night, and the managerial wheels were spinning just about everywhere except inside their dugout.
With such a huge early cushion in an eventual 15-3 National League Championship Series Game 3 blowout of the Atlanta Braves in Globe Life Field, manager Dave Roberts seemed to have a big decision to make.
Should he pull starter Julio Urías after two innings and 51 pitches or three innings and 71 pitches to save the valuable swingman for a potential Game 7 relief appearance? Or should he let the 24-year-old left-hander continue, expending bullets in as low a leverage situation as can be found in baseball?
Leadoff hit for Mookie Betts sets table in Dodgers’ historic rout
Mookie Betts could have described his team’s lack of production as some kind of cosmic accident. Many people around baseball do this. They bemoan the existence of variance and luck. They justify their failures by championing their processes.
That’s not what Betts does.
He’s a leader.
So, when asked about the Dodgers’ offensive problems in the first two games of this National League Championship Series, he pointed the finger at himself.
Joc Pederson goes from left out to joining Dodgers’ left-handed Game 3 lightning
Joc Pederson seemed like an afterthought on the Dodgers playoff roster two weeks ago.
The architect of several huge October moments, the slugger was not in the starting lineup for the Oct. 1 National League wild-card series-clinching win over Milwaukee even though he had four hits, including two homers, in five career at-bats against Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff, who started that night.
The left-handed-hitting Pederson had already lost his share of a left-field platoon with AJ Pollock after hitting a career-low .190 with a .681 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, seven homers and 16 RBIs in 43 regular-season games.
A furious first inning sets tone for Dodgers’ Game 3 victory and the rest of the NLCS
It started with hustle, Mookie Betts jumping on the first pitch and flying down the line to beat out a grounder.
It continued with heat, Corey Seager hacking at the next pitch and drilling a double to left to score a sprinting Betts.
It flowed with homers, Joc Pederson going deep, Edwin Ríos going deeper one pitch later, balls soaring into the Texas sky, Dodgers pounding on the dugout rail.
It continued with high jinks, Justin Turner kicking at a pitch in the dirt and being awarded first base.
Former Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen relegated to mop-up role in rout of Braves
The Dodgers led by two touchdowns. They already had given Mookie Betts and Corey Seager the rest of the night off. The Atlanta Braves had done the same for Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr.
Suspense had vanished in the first inning. This was the sixth, and time for an arm the Dodgers would be hesitant to trust with the game on the line. The bullpen gate opened, and out trotted the most enduring closer in franchise history, the Dodgers’ all-time saves leader.
Kenley Jansen, the three-time All-Star who has pitched his way out of the closer’s role this October, entered the game with a 15-1 lead.
Dodgers’ offense explodes in historic rout over Braves in Game 3 of NLCS
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dodgers asserted that anxiety was absent in their clubhouse before Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. They faced an 0-2 series deficit but said the mood was light. They cracked jokes. They remained calm. They were confident their superior depth would emerge. The team with the best record in the regular season was poised to pounce.
“We weren’t worried about anything,” first baseman Max Muncy said. “And tonight, we went out and showed what we can do.”
Riding the wave of a seven-run burst over the final three innings of Game 2, the Dodgers erupted for a record-setting 11 runs in the first inning Wednesday to launch a 15-3 rout.
Sad when the Dodgers traded him, Ross Stripling roots for his former teammates
ARLINGTON, Texas — Ross Stripling’s heart sunk when he saw the name flash on his phone.
Andrew Friedman was calling. On the day of the trade deadline. Oh, no.
Stripling recalled Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, saying all the right things on that Aug. 31 call. It was a difficult decision. There aren’t enough starter’s innings for you. We think it’s only fair for you to have a legitimate starting opportunity. So, we traded you to the Toronto Blue Jays.
“Just shocked, man,” Stripling said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning. “Stunned. Didn’t see that one coming.”
Left-handed hitters will fill middle of Dodgers’ batting order in Game 4
The Dodgers’ lineup will have a different look in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves.
For their first eight postseason games, Los Angeles used lineups that alternated between right-handed and left-handed hitters one through nine. On Thursday, they’ll have four straight left-handed hitters in the middle of the order opposite rookie right-hander Bryse Wilson.
Dodgers rewrite MLB record book with NLCS scoring barrage vs. Braves
The Dodgers said they wanted to carry over the momentum from their late-game rally in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, but no one could have expected this. In a record-breaking display, the team scored 11 runs in the first inning of Wednesday’s Game 3 and had a 15-0 lead by the third. The Dodgers went on to win, 15-3.
Here are a few of the all-time records the Dodgers either broke or matched with their early-game flurry at the plate:
11 first-inning runs: Most by any team in a single half-inning in MLB playoff history; third-most runs in the first inning of any MLB game since 2010.
Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw will start NLCS Game 4 against Braves
Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, scratched from his scheduled Game 2 start because of back spasms, will start Game 4 against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, manager Dave Roberts announced after Game 3 Wednesday night.
Kershaw’s back issue flared up after Saturday’s bullpen workout and forced the Dodgers to start Tony Gonsolin in Game 2 — an 8-7 loss to the Braves — on Tuesday. Kershaw had “a pretty aggressive” bullpen workout before Tuesday’s game in Globe Life Field and received treatment Wednesday.
“He was letting [the ball] go, and he came out of it great,” Roberts said before Game 3. “Every day it’s been better. … I talked to him briefly [Wednesday]. He’s in a good head space. I just know that we’re in a better place than we were [on Tuesday]. What that means, I don’t know quite yet.”