Kenley Jansen delighted the Dodgers
A week removed from his demotion, Kenley Jansen looked like a new pitcher — or the Jansen of old, depending on how you look at it.
Here’s what his teammates and manager had to say about his perfect ninth inning:
Corey Seager: “Kenley looked great tonight. It looked like he had some confidence tonight. Throughout the year, he was kind of tinkering with stuff and couldn’t really find what he was looking for. And tonight, he looked like he was out there throwing like we’ve always seen him do. He just pounded the zone. He wasn’t scared. He attacked guys. He was really good tonight. That was very comforting to see for him. That’s got to be a huge relief for him.”
Will Smith: “He looked good. He was attacking guys. He was coming in good. He was hitting spots. He looked good. We’re going to need him these next two games. He did his thing.”
Dave Roberts: “That was one of the highlights for all of us, just to see the way he commanded the baseball. He attacked and closed the game out. That was really good to see.”
Dave Roberts praises Seager and Smith, gives update on Taylor injury
Highlights from the Dodgers’ 7-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLCS on Friday.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dave Roberts had no shortage of good things to say about Corey Seager and Will Smith, the power-hitting pair who combined for the Dodgers’ three home runs in their Game 5 win.
Roberts also said Chris Taylor will get tests done on his right ankle, which he hurt while attempting a throw from right field in the eighth, eventually forcing him to exit the game.
“He might have heard something pop,” Roberts said. “He wanted to stay in the game, but I wanted to get it treated. Trainers felt the same way. So day-to-day. We’ll see how he comes in tomorrow.”
Best images from Dodgers’ win over Braves in Game 5 of NLCS
The Dodgers kept their World Series hopes alive for at least another day with a 7-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on Friday.
After falling behind early, the Dodgers surged into the lead in the sixth inning off a three-run home run by Will Smith. They extended the lead in the seventh off a two-run homer by Corey Seager — the shortstop’s second home run of the game.
Here are some of the best images of the game from longtime Los Angeles Times photographer Robert Gauthier.
Dustin May doesn’t provide Walker Buehler moment, but other Dodgers deliver win
In a little more than two hours, Dustin May would step onto the mound and attempt to save the Dodgers’ season. Dave Roberts, the Dodgers’ manager, stepped to a microphone and expressed his faith in his young pitcher.
May is 21. He had never started a postseason game, except for a one-inning stint as an opener. On Friday, as the Dodgers faced elimination, the team figured it would need him to go deep into the game.
“This,” Roberts said, “could be his Walker Buehler moment.”
Spoiler alert: It was not.
Spoiler alert: It did not matter.
The Dodgers shrugged off the conventional wisdom, at least for a night, and extended their 2020 season in their own way.
Will Smith’s homer helps Dodgers rally past Braves in Game 5 of NLCS, avoid elimination
Dodgers catcher Will Smith hits a three-run home run off Braves reliever Will Smith in Game 5 of the NLCS.
Will Smith versus Will Smith. It was an apt encounter for a big moment in Major League Baseball’s warped 2020 season. Will Smith, the catcher for the Dodgers, sought to continue the momentum his club had created facing elimination. Will Smith, the left-handed reliever for the Atlanta Braves, sought to wiggle free from a mess in the sixth inning of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Friday.
The clash ended on the sixth pitch — a 3-2, 94-mph fastball — after Will Smith, the hitter, laid off three close pitches as if he knew what the other Will Smith was thinking.
The pitch was not poorly placed; it darted to the inside part of the plate above the knees. But Will Smith, the hitter, anticipated the location after four getting four straight pitches inside. So he dropped his hands and barreled the baseball.
Jansen, Dodgers hang on for a win
Kenley Jansen threw some 93 mph fastballs (even touched 94!), struck out all three batters and escaped the ninth inning unscathed.
The Dodgers have staved off elimination for at least one night. Atlanta’s series lead was cut to 3-2 following the Dodgers’ 7-3 win.
Check this space tomorrow for more on Game 6, which begins at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Kenley Jansen will get the ninth
Kenley Jansen will get the ninth inning for the Dodgers. Just his second appearance since allowing three runs in Game 2 of the NLDS. He pitched the sixth inning of Game 3, when the Dodgers were ahead by double-digits.
Braves take back one run in eighth
A Marcell Ozuna flyout and a Travis d’Arnaud ground ball helped the Braves manufacture their third run of the game. But Brusdar Graterol, who replaced Victor González after Freddie Freeman’s double, didn’t budge any further.
The Dodgers head to the ninth leading 7-3.
Chris Taylor gets hurt on eighth-inning play, remains in game
Globe Life Field made Freddie Freeman’s leadoff double in the eighth very hard for Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor.
Taylor remained in the game. But the replay wasn’t pretty.
Max Muncy nearly homered. But Cristian Pache was there
A few feet higher and Max Muncy might have started the eighth inning with a homer off Braves reliever Josh Tomlin.
Muncy charged a line-drive to center field, the 3-1 pitch from Tomlin traveling 107 mph and 415 feet. But Braves rookie outfielder Cristian Pache was there to catch the ball before it could sneak over the fence.
That was the only bit excitement for the Dodgers in the top of the eighth. They were retired in order. Their lead remains 7-2.
Dodgers’ Victor González bounces back to retain five-run lead
One night after allowing an inherited runner to score, Victor González nearly did the same thing in the seventh Friday. But he settled down after a walk, inducing a double-play from breakout rookie Cristian Pache and a flyball out.
The Dodgers lead 7-2 in the eighth.
The Dodgers are up 7-2. Here’s who they have left in the bullpen
ARLINGTON, Texas — All of a sudden, the Dodgers have a five-run lead with three innings to go.
Now, they have to decide how to manager their bullpen…
Here are the relievers left for the Dodgers:
- RHP Pedro Báez, who is returning to the mound to start the seventh for his second inning of work
- Left-handers who pitched last night: Victor González and Jake McGee – who each allowed inherited runners to score in the game.
- Right-handers who pitched last night: Dylan Floro and Brusdar Graterol – who were both charged with runs in Game 4, including three against Graterol.
- Left-handers who didn’t pitch last night: Adam Kolarek and Alex Wood – who both pitched the previous two nights.
- Right-handers who didn’t pitch last night (a.k.a. former closers looking for redemption): Kenley Jansen – who manager Dave Roberts said he “wouldn’t be surprised to see” in tonight’s game.
UPDATE: After Báez allowed a single to begin the seventh, he was replaced with González.
Corey Seager homers again
Corey Seager didn’t wait long to send home Mookie Betts. He drove the first pitch he saw from Braves reliever Jacob Webb to right field for a two-run blast.
The Dodgers lead 7-2 in the seventh.
Mookie Betts’ single gives Dodgers 5-2 lead
Mookie Betts hit a two-out single with a runner on base and sent home the Dodgers’ fifth run of the night.
Before the play, Chris Taylor doubled.
He had originally reached base on a hit-by-pitch but an umpire review overturned the call. Replays determined Jacob Webb’s pitch hit the knob of Taylor’s bat, not his wrist.
The overturned call proved crucial.
Pedro Báez shuts down Braves in sixth
That was efficient. The Dodgers summoned Pedro Báez after taking a two-run lead. The 32-year-old struck out two in a perfect, 12-pitch sixth.
Will Smith wins the battle, gives Dodgers 4-2 lead
The Dodgers’ Will Smith won the battle. He slugged a 3-2 fastball from Braves reliever Will Smith for a three-run homer and a 4-2 Dodgers lead.
That was only the third hit the Dodgers’ Smith logged in this series. He was 2 for 16 entering the day.
Will Smith vs. Will Smith is happening
After Max Muncy saw six pitches from Braves reliever Will Smith to draw a walk, Dodgers catcher Will Smith came to the plate with two on and two out.
It’s the first time two players with the same name have faced each other in the postseason.
The players previously faced each other in the regular season.
Mookie Betts didn’t score but he did another little thing
With one out, Mookie Betts took off for second base as Braves reliever Shane Greene threw a slider off the plate and just beat the throw from catcher Travis d’Arnaud. The steal eliminated the possibility of a double play on Justin Turner’s ensuing ground ball.
It also allowed Betts to engage the Braves, who chose not to get the easy out at first base, in a rundown. He juked back and forth between second and third base until Turner pulled into second base.
Greene was replaced with Will Smith.
Mookie Betts leads off sixth with infield single
Mookie Betts legged out on an infield single on a ground ball to third base to start the sixth inning.
Dodgers hoped new familiarity with Braves ‘pen would help. It hasn’t
Given the constraints of the regular-season schedule, the Dodgers didn’t get to face the Braves before the playoffs this year. They had to rely on scouting reports and videos to prepare for the first-year players. Experience from past years helped them ready to face more established players.
But homework doesn’t replace the real thing. The Dodgers hoped the deeper they got into this series, the more comfortable they would become with the Braves’ relief corps.
Not so. In Friday’s game, they have so far faced A.J. Minter, Tyler Matzek and Shane Greene. All had pitched in at least one NLCS game. Matzek and Greene had pitched in two.
Through five innings Friday, the three pitchers have combined to strike out nine and give up one run on three hits.
Treinen gives Dodgers two key, quick innings
After three shaky innings from the Dodgers pitching staff, Blake Treinen has settled things down. In two innings, he’s retired all six batters with just 19 pitches, 14 of them for strikes. Pedro Báez is now warming in the Dodgers’ bullpen. Braves still lead 2-1 entering the sixth.
Dodgers end Capistrano Valley’s Tyler Matzek scoreless streak
Before Corey Seager led off the fourth inning with a homer for the Dodgers, Braves reliever Tyler Matzek hadn’t given up in a run in 6 ⅓ postseason inning.
Matzek, a native of Mission Viejo, was a first-round pick of the Colorado Rockies back in 2009. A few years ago, the yips nearly ended his career.
But a couple of stints in indy ball helped Matzek recover. The Braves signed him in August of 2019.
This season — his first with major league action since 2015 — Matzek made 21 regular-season appearances and posted a 2.79 ERA. He rolled the momentum into the playoffs. Entering Friday, he had struck out 11 and given up four hits.
Matzek made appearances in Games 2 and 4 of this series. The Game 2 outing last two innings.
On Friday, he pitched 1 ⅓ and struck out two after Seager homered.
Matzek was replaced with one out in the fifth inning by Shane Greene.
Seager homers. Dodgers on the board, down 2-1
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dodgers fans here haven’t had much to cheer the last two nights. That’s changed in the last 10 minutes.
The overturned call on Ozuna got a rise out of the LA contingent. Then, they really exploded as Corey Seager hit a leadoff home run in the next half-inning that just cleared the center field fence. As he rounded the bases, “Let’s go Dodgers” chants broke out around the stands.
It’s Seager’s fourth home run of the playoffs and his third in the last four games. The Dodgers are on the board, trailing 2-1 in the fourth.
Braves almost scored a third run but Marcell Ozuna erred
With runners in scoring position, the Braves’ Dansby Swanson lofted a flyball 243 feet to right field. Usually such a play wouldn’t be deep enough to score someone from third base.
But Marcell Ozuna, who hit two homers and a double a night ago, took a chance on Mookie Betts. The Dodgers’ right-fielder had to lunge for a shoe-string catch. Ozuna, the Braves’ lead runner, saw Betts losing balance and took off for home. The only problem was he left too soon.
Ozuna slid head-first into home plate, beating Betts’on-target throw. He was called safe. The Dodgers challenged the call, which was overturned to end the inning.
Minter outlasts May as Dodgers turn to the bullpen in the third
ARLINGTON, Texas — So much for the Dodgers’ pitching advantage.
AJ Minter, a reliever making his first career start, has outlasted Dodgers starter Dustin May.
May was replaced to begin the third inning by Joe Kelly. Minter, meanwhile, completed three innings of scoreless baseball in a career performance. As he returned to the dugout, the Braves contingent of the partially-filled Globe Life Field crowd rose to their feet in appreciation.
Minter’s night is likely done now on a designed bullpen night for the Braves. But suddenly, the Dodgers find themselves in a bullpen game of their own too after May’s two-inning, two-run start.
Dodgers have no answer for Braves’ A.J. Minter
Joc Pederson struck out to start the third inning, the fourth Dodgers’ left-hander to go down whiffing at a pitch from Braves opener A.J. Minter.
Minter, a left-hander, has struck out six of nine he has faced through 3 ⅔ innings. He remained in the game to face Mookie Betts a second time.
Update: Betts struck out. Third time he has struck out in 12 at-bats against left-handers this postseason.
Dodgers’ Dustin May may not be long for the game
Dodgers rookie Dustin May hasn’t pitched like his usual self. He has given up rather hard contact through two innings and he is struggling to locate.
The Braves have taken advantage. Dansby Swanson drew walk on seven pitches to start the second inning. He eventually scored on Cristian Pache’s one-out single, extending the Braves’ lead over the Dodgers to 2-0.
May allowed three baserunners in the second before getting a flyout from Ronald Acuña Jr. and striking out Freddie Freeman to end the frame.
May has pitched with a different approach Friday.
May has thrown 32 of 55 pitches for strikes. He may not be long for the game. Blake Treinen was up in the Dodgers bullpen while May was pitching in the bottom of the second. Joe Kelly started warming in the top of the third.
May’s curveball usage up, strike-throwing down through two laborious innings
ARLINGTON, Texas – During the regular season, Dustin May threw strikes almost 66% of the time, the 14th highest among qualified MLB pitchers.
Tonight, however, May has thrown only 32 of his 55 pitches through two innings for strikes. Twice he’s walked a batter, four times he’s been in a three-ball count, and only six of 11 at-bats have begun with a strike.
One potential reason: He’s throwing far fewer two-seamers and far more curveballs so far. During the regular season, May threw the curve only 13.4% of the time. Today, it’s been his most-used pitch.
An emotional pitcher on the mound, he clinched his arms and shook his head after Cristian Pache, in only May’s second 0-2 count of the night, drove in a run with a single up the middle with one out in the second to make it 2-0.
The Dodgers bullpen was active in the second. May will need a quick or two if he wants to even get into the middle innings of this game.
A.J. Minter retires Dodgers in order in second and might not slow down
A.J. Minter doesn’t look like someone who’s going to pitch just two innings for the Braves. He is through two innings and the only misstep has been the double he gave up to Justin Turner in the first.
Minter’s fastball is averaging 96.5 mph. It has drawn five swings and misses.
Manager Brian Snitker said he expected maybe one inning out of Minter, who has struck out four in two innings.
Max Muncy’s non-play at first base leads to Braves’ first run
First base has not been kind to the Dodgers’ Max Muncy.
He missed a chance to stifle Freddie Freeman’s ground ball down the first-base line, resulting in a double.
Freeman advanced to third base on a wild pitch and eventually scored on Travis d’Arnaud’s sacrifice fly to deep right field.
The Braves lead 1-0 after one inning.
Dodgers’ Justin Turner smacks double in first, but stranded
If this is the last game of Justin Turner’s Dodgers career, he isn’t going away without a fight.
Turner roped up-and-in heat from Braves opener A.J. Minter to left field for a two-out double. It was his third of the playoffs.
He wasn’t brought home, though. Max Muncy struck out to end the inning. It is time for Dustin May to make his second postseason start near his hometown of Justin, Texas.
Meet A.J. Minter, Braves’ opener for NLCS game 5
Left-hander A.J. Minter has never started a game in his professional career, but that doesn’t worry the Braves. Minter, a second-rounder in the 2015 draft, once was a starter for Texas Tech before an elbow injury ended his junior season.
But what actually gives the Braves confidence is the 27-year-old’s stuff. His mid-90s four-seamer held batters to a .208 average and .375 slugging percentage. His high-80s cutter had a whiff rate of 35.2%. Opponents hit only .182 against it. Historically, the cutter has been especially on tough left-handers — since his debut, major leaguers have never hit it at better than an .194 clip.
With that in mind, the Dodgers went back to alternating between right- and left-handed batters.
Minter’s start doesn’t bode well for opener Mookie Betts, who has just two hits in this series and is generally struggling against left-handers. For the postseason, he is 2 for 10.
But it is likely Minter, who is the first pitcher in history to make his first career start in the playoffs, won’t pitch to Betts more than once.
Wind report: There’s a breeze, but not like last night
ARLINGTON, Texas — The roof is open and there is a breeze, but it’s nowhere near the gusts that impacted play last night. Last night, the game-time wind speed was 15 mph. Tonight, Weather.com says the winds in Arlington are blowing at only 5 mph. Still enough to move the flags in center field though
What to know about Dodgers-Braves NLCS game 5
First pitch: 6:08 p.m. PT
Dodgers notes: The challenge for the Dodgers is simple — survive or return home without a championship. Again. ... Dustin May will make his second start of the playoffs. After being held to one inning as a starter in the NLDS, the 23-year-old will pitch as far as he can get Friday. May has surrendered no runs while striking out six in 4 ⅔ innings. ... By the way, the wind may not be a factor Friday. According to the National Weather Service, the wind in Arlington, Texas, will be blowing between 5 and 10 mph.
Braves notes: The Braves opted not to bring back No. 1 starter Max Fried for Game 5. So Friday is a bullpen game for the team whose relief corps compiled a 3.50 ERA in a league-leading 272 ⅔ regular-season innings. ... Historically, the Braves perform poorly in Game 5s. They have lost six straight and 10 of their last 12. ... According to the Braves’ notes, rookie Cristian Pache, 21, is the eighth player in baseball history of his age or younger to drive in a run in three consecutive postseason games. The record belongs to the Nationals’ Juan Soto, who had four straight such games in the 2019 World Series. Soto and Pache, both Dominicans, are close friends. Pache said in Spanish earlier in the series that Soto has spoken to him about how to approach the playoffs. “He told me to stay focused, don’t try to do too much. Take it one pitch at a time, look for pitches in the zone and do what you know how to do — play baseball.”
Clayton Kershaw doesn’t deserve all the blame for the Dodgers’ Game 4 woes
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 Hernandez’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.
Clayton Kershaw’s friends crave for his success — and anguish in his struggles
Calvin Jones hasn’t washed the jersey since 2008.
That’s when the former Dodgers scout, the one who followed Clayton Kershaw in high school and convinced the club he was worth a seventh overall draft pick in 2006, was given the white No. 22 Dodgers uniform by the pitcher himself.
“I only break it out when he’s pitching in these games,” Jones said, standing at the top of a Globe Life Field concourse Thursday night, his eyes directed toward the mound and following Kershaw’s every move during the first inning of Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
Led by homegrown youngsters, Braves have the Dodgers on the brink of elimination
For years, the Dodgers have wrought havoc on opponents with the help of homegrown talent. Their farm system season after season has proved fertile, ripe with prospects developed by one of the best minor league structures in the sport.
When catcher Austin Barnes’ offensives woes dragged past the All-Star break last season, the Dodgers gave his job to prospect Will Smith and watched the rookie complete his first 54 games in the majors with 42 RBIs and an eye-catching .907 OPS. He was far from the only rookie to make an impact. Alex Verdugo batted .294, the sixth-best mark among newcomers with at least 350 plate appearances. Matt Beaty ranked third in baseball in average with runners in scoring position (.379; minimum of 50 plate appearances with RISP). On the mound, Tony Gonsolin struck out 37 in 40 innings. Dustin May broke into the majors with a 3.63 ERA over his first 14 outings.
Will the open roof at Globe Life Field again produce an ill wind for the Dodgers?
ARLINGTON, Texas — The roof opened and the winds came swirling in, giving Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night a new set of natural elements with which to contend.
By the time the Atlanta Braves broke the score open with a six-run sixth inning en route to a 10-2 win that put the Dodgers’ season on the brink, the howling gusts had died down.
But the obstacles the wind created early on left some players frustrated.
“I don’t know what the weather was doing last night,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “On the field you couldn’t tell if the wind was blowing in or out or across. Whatever happens [tonight], that’s out of our control.”
Dodgers’ October nightmare is once again staring them in the face
Horror of horrors, it’s happening again.
Clayton Kershaw is trudging off the mound with his head hanging, again.
Dave Roberts is staring into space with his eyes flaring, again.
The Dodgers offense is flailing carelessly into the winter, again.
Again, again, again, the Dodgers are blowing October.
Dodgers go with more familiar lineup for NLCS Game 5 vs. Braves
ARLINGTON, Texas — After breaking out a new lineup in Game 4’s loss, the Dodgers will return to a familiar look with their season on the line in Game 5 against the Atlanta Braves.
On Thursday, the Dodgers stacked four left-handed batters against Braves right-hander Bryse Wilson. On Friday, knowing Atlanta plans on a bullpen game, the Dodgers will alternate between right-handed and left-handed batters from one through nine Friday as they did in their first eight playoff games.
Catcher Will Smith, second baseman Chris Taylor, and left fielder AJ Pollock are back in the lineup after starting Game 4 on the bench. Joc Pederson will be the designated hitter. Edwin Ríos, who’s homered in each of the last two games, is not in the lineup.
Dodgers have tables turned in stunning NLCS Game 4 blowout loss to the Braves
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.
Despite their money and analytics, Dodgers keep disappointing in playoffs
Billy Beane might be done with baseball.
He is the most celebrated man in a front office since Branch Rickey. Michael Lewis wrote a bestselling book about Beane. Brad Pitt played Beane in the movie.
The title of both — “Moneyball” — transcended sports to become a buzzword in popular culture.
It was Beane who famously called the playoffs a crapshoot. The Dodgers are one loss from muttering that same noun, again.
Dave Roberts has ‘no hesitation at all’ about Dustin May pitching Game 5
The prospect of starting a rookie pitcher in an elimination game doesn’t faze Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who will send Dustin May, the lanky right-hander with the fiery red hair and blazing fastball, to the mound against the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Friday night.
And why should it? After watching Braves rookie right-handers Ian Anderson and Bryse Wilson, who each made a grand total of six regular-season big league starts before this postseason, shut down the Dodgers in Games 2 and 4 of the NLCS, maybe it’s the prudent thing to do.