Spirited ninth-inning surge not enough for Dodgers
ARLINGTON, Texas — After 16 innings, after a listless loss and after another one possibly ahead, the Dodgers’ offense finally swung to life in the seventh inning of Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.
The Dodgers had compiled just two hits in the first six innings. The offense they were so confident would not fail them entering the series was failing them again. Then, with Los Angeles trailing 7-0, Corey Seager cracked a three-run home run into the Braves’ bullpen beyond the wall in left-center field in the seventh inning.
Two innings later, with the Dodgers down 8-3, Seager lined an RBI double. Two batters after, with the Dodgers down to their last out, Max Muncy smashed a two-run home run. Next, Will Smith reached on an error against Braves closer Mark Melancon. Cody Bellinger lined an RBI triple to right, cutting the deficit to one. Suddenly, the Braves, riding a high just moments earlier, were reeling. The Dodgers, late-game offensive specialists, were poised to overcome their bullpen’s second collapse in 24 hours.
“This team’s got a lot of fight,” Seager said. “We’ve done it all year.”
Dodgers decisions in fateful fifth inning backfire in loss
The Dodgers trailed by seven runs at one point Tuesday. There is not much sense in scrutinizing the anatomy of a blowout.
But, for the Dodgers, there is something incredibly painful about this one-run defeat, and not just because the Atlanta Braves are halfway to the World Series.
The Dodgers’ 8-7 loss in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series compelled a close examination of the fifth inning. In a game they rallied and ultimately lost by one run, that was an inning in which they gave up four, amid a series of questionable decisions.
Final: Braves 8, Dodgers 7
The Dodgers come up one hit short. After scoring four runs in the ninth, the Dodgers lose 8-7. AJ Pollock couldn’t get the tying run home from third, grounding out to end the game and send the Dodgers into a two-games-to-none hole.
Not done yet. Dodgers within one on Bellinger’s triple
It’s 8-7. After Will Smith reached on an error, Cody Bellinger drove him home with a triple to right. AJ Pollock comes to the plate as the potential winning run with two outs in the ninth.
Dodgers suddenly within two, Braves summon closer Mark Melancon
The Dodgers have chased Braves reliever Josh Tomlin from this inning after scoring three runs, making it 8-6 Atlanta. Mookie Betts singled with one out and Corey Seager drove him home with an RBI double in the next at-bat. Two batters later, Max Muncy hit a two-run homer that got the Dodgers within two.
Closer Mark Melancon, who had been warming up, will enter the game and try to get the last out. Will Smith, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson are the next three due up.
Braves add insurance run on Albies’ as Dodgers bullpen struggles continue
Left-handed reliever Adam Kolarek entered the game in the ninth trying to keep the Dodgers within four, but instead allowed a solo home run to Ozzie Albies and needed to throw 28 total pitches to prevent any more damage.
Braves closer Mark Melancon had a little fun tracking down Albies’ homer in the bullpen too, his second straight night catching an Albies long ball in the ninth.
The Dodgers bullpen in the first two games of this series has not looked sharp. The numbers: 8 2/3 innings, seven earned runs (aka, 7.27 ERA).
The Dodgers come up in the bottom of the ninth facing an 8-3 deficit.
Start times for rest of NLCS announced
MLB announced the start times for the remainder of the NLCS:
Game 3: Wednesday, 3:05 p.m. PDT (TV: FS1)
Game 4: Thursday, 5:08 p.m. PDT (TV: Fox & FS1)
Game 5^: Friday, 6:08 p.m. PDT* (TV: FS1)
Game 6^: Saturday, 1:38 p.m. PDT** (TV: FS1)
Game 7^: Sunday, 5:15 p.m. (TV: Fox & FS1)
^ - If necessary
* - If the ALCS is completed before Friday, Game 5 of the NLCS will begin at 5:08 p.m.
** - If the ALC is completed before Saturday, Game 6 of the NLCS will begin at 4:08 p.m.
Dodgers go into the ninth trailing, 7-3
The Dodgers couldn’t tack on in the eighth inning.
Reliever Chris Martin entered the game and retired Will Smith and Cody Bellinger with a strikeout and pop out, respectively. AJ Pollock singled with two outs, but was stranded after Joc Pederson flied out to center to end the inning.
If the Dodgers are to come back now, they’ll have to overturn a 7-3 deficit in the ninth to do it.
Freddie Freeman gets hit by a pitch, but Dodgers pitchers post a zero in the eighth
Freddie Freeman took a hit by pitch off the right elbow with two outs in the eighth but stayed in the game. That HBP was the last throw of Alex Wood’s 1 2/3-inning, one-run relief appearance. Joe Kelly came in next to get the final out. The Dodgers still trail 7-3 with six outs to go in Game 2.
There’s life: Seager’s three-run homer puts the Dodgers on the board
The Dodgers won’t be shut out. Corey Seager puts the Dodgers on the board with a three-run homer, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 7-3 in the seventh inning.
After Joc Pederson and Chris Taylor led off the inning with back-to-back singles against Braves reliever Darren O’Day, Seager came to the plate with one out against newly inserted left-hander AJ Minter. He got ahead in the count 2-and-1. And he lined a cutter on the outer half of the plate the other way, sending it just over the wall in left-center field for his second home run of the postseason.
The Dodgers couldn’t add any more as Justin Turner flied out and Max Muncy struck out in the next two at-bats. But it keeps their dim chances of avoid a two-games-to-none hole in this NLCS alive.
After another empty inning at the plate, the Dodgers’ deficit grows in the seventh
The Dodgers are in grave danger of suffering their first shutout of the season — the only team in baseball yet to be kept scoreless in a game.
Meanwhile, their comeback chances in Game 2 are continually becoming slimmer. The Braves made it 7-0 in the seventh on a Dansby Swanson ground-rule double that landed just beyond the reach of Mookie Betts in the right-field corner. This is the most runs the Dodgers have allowed since a Sep. 14 loss to the San Diego Padres — 17 games ago.
Dodgers strand a double, but still need some offense
After Nick Markakis doubled the other way against Dylan Floro with one with in the sixth, left-handed reliever Jake McGee entered the game and stuck out Cristian Pache and Ronald Acuña Jr. in back-to-back at-bats to end the inning.
It remains 6-0 Atlanta, however, going into the bottom of the sixth.
Double-play ball ends another Dodgers threat
Down 6-0, the Dodgers had the top of the order up against Braves reliever Tyler Matzek to begin the fifth but again failed to score.
Mookie Betts flied out to begin the innings. Corey Seager walked with one out in hopes of beginning a potential rally. But then Justin Turner grounded into a double-play to retire the side in the minimum number of batters.
That trio is now just 3-for-18 in this series with three walks and seven strikeouts. As a team, the Dodgers have not scored a run in their last nine innings.
Ozzie Albies makes it 6-0 with a sac fly; Dodgers make another pitching change
Ozzie Albies drove in another run for the Braves with a long sac fly that center fielder Cody Bellinger had to leap for. It was the last at-bat for Baez, who exited the game after allowing a hit and two walks while getting only one out.
Dylan Floro entered and got the final out of the fifth, ending a half-inning that lasted 33 minutes and saw the Braves collect four runs, four walks and two hits. It’s 6-0 Atlanta.
Baez walks the bases loaded ... then walks in a run to make it 5-0
The Dodgers said they wanted to play to matchups when using their bullpen, that their depth of reliever would pay dividends against the Braves.
Their three most recent calls to the bullpen, however, have backfired. Pedro Báez has been the latest culprit, following Freeman’s RBI single with back-to-back walks against Marcell Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud. The former loaded the bases. The latter brought home a run. It’s 5-0 Braves – all of them charged to starter Tony Gonsolin, a season-high for him.
Freeman collects another RBI, Braves lead 4-0
Left-handed reliever Adam Kolarek was warming up for the Dodgers as left-handed hitting Freddie Freeman came to the plate, but the Dodgers elected to summon right-hander Pedro Báez to face the MVP candidate instead.
Báez does have reverse-splits (lefties hit only .100 against him this year while righties were .219, continuing a career-long trend) but Freeman singled against him anyway, beating the shift with a grounder the other way to score Cristian Pache from second and move Ronald Acuña Jr. to third.
There remains only one out in the inning. Dodgers are in danger of letting this one get out of hand.
Tony Gonsolin exits with one out in the fifth
After walking Ronald Acuña Jr. to put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, Dave Roberts comes to get the ball from Tony Gonsolin.
Gonsolin’s postseason debut ends after 4 1/3 innings – his third-shortest outing of the season. He’s already been charged with three runs and is responsible for two others.
Pedro Báez will try to bail him out and keep the Dodgers’ deficit at 3-0.
Braves add to lead on Cristian Pache’s RBI double
In the lineup for the injured Adam Duvall, Cristian Pache lines an RBI double past third baseman Justin Turner and into the left field corner, where it bounced around enough to allow Nick Markakis to score all the way from first. It makes it 3-0 Braves in the fifth.
Even before that run, the Dodgers had Blake Treinen and Adam Kolarek warming up in the bullpen. After retiring his first nine batters, Tony Gonsolin has allowed three runs, three hits and two walks in the last 1 1/3 innings.
Ian Anderson will leave game after another scoreless inning
The Dodgers have been able to get men aboard today, as Joc Pederson drew their fifth walk with two outs in the fourth. But once again, Ian Anderson kept them from scoring, striking out Chris Taylor with a fastball for his fifth punch out of the game.
Anderson has now extended his scoreless streak to begin the postseason to 15 2/3 innings. With his pitch count at 85, his day is over according to Braves manager Brian Snitker, who joined the Fox television broadcast for an in-game interview.
“That was a hard, hard 4 innings,” Snitker said. “He expended a lot of energy. He wasn’t real sharp like he has been, but he does what he does. He battles.”
Braves take 2-0 lead on Freddie Freeman’s two-run homer
After allowing his first baserunner of the day, Tony Gonsolin surrenders the evening’s first runs.
In a full-count with no outs, Freddie Freeman hammered an inside splitter out to right field for his second home run in as many games, putting the Braves on the board first for the team’s seventh-straight time to open the playoffs.
The inning began with a five-pitch walk to Ronald Acuña Jr. Now, Gonsolin will have to work from behind while his offense tries to breach Ian Anderson.
Dodgers get a hit and load the bases, but still don’t score
We have a hit! But still no runs...
After Chris Taylor hit a loud fly out to deep center to lead off the inning (according to the Fox television broadcast, it would have been a home run at Dodger Stadium), Mookie Betts walked, Justin Turner moved him to third with the game’s first single and Max Muncy walked to load the bases.
With two outs, Will Smith came to the plate. Ian Anderson served up three straight curveballs. Smith softly tapped the last one to third for an inning-ending force out. The Dodgers are now 0 for 6 in the series with runners in scoring position.
Still no score, though Anderson’s pitch count is up to 66.
The Braves bashed fastballs last night. Gonsolin is giving them very few today
After the Braves hit three home runs off fastballs in Game 1, Tony Gonsolin has quieted their lineup with his off-speed pitches today.
Through three innings, Gonsolin has retired all nine batters he’s faced while throwing only 10 fastballs on 28 pitches. Instead, he’s used his splitter and slider 16 combined times, with 10 of them going for strikes.
He’s been a picture of efficiency so far. Still no score going into the bottom of the third.
Gonsolin completes two easy innings to begin first career playoff start
Another easy inning for Gonsolin, who retires the side again on just 10 pitches, including getting his thrid strikeout of the day against Travis d’Arnaud.
In the regular season, Gonsolin did not allow a run in any of the eight first or second innings he pitched. The third thing, however? Six earned runs in eight tries.
Dodgers get two aboard, drive up Anderson’s pitch count, but can’t score in first
Mookie Betts set a strong tone in the first inning, working a nine-pitch walk against Ian Anderson before advancing to second on a wild pitch.
Anderson stranded Betts there, however. He struck out Corey Seager with a 2-and-2 changeup. He got Justin Turner to fly out on a high fastball. Then, after walking Max Muncy on a full-count, Anderson retired the side with some help from his defense. Third baseman Austin Riley rocketed a ground ball from Will Smith to first baseman Freddie Freeman, who made a diving catch to get the final out.
Anderson did need 29 pitches to get through the inning. Worth remembering: The Dodgers did the same thing last night, making the Braves’ Game 1 starter throw 28 pitches in the first inning but couldn’t keep it going throughout the game.
Meet Ian Anderson, the Braves’ NLCS Game 2 starter
The strangeness of this season was particularly amplified for Ian Anderson, the Braves’ Game 2 starter who pitched his first major league game in late August.
The rookie right-hander threw six strong innings on Aug. 26, giving up only one run on a homer to New York Yankees rising star Luke Voit.
Under normal circumstances, the Braves’ home park would have been rocking. But no one was there to watch his impressive feat from the stands.
The experience has left Anderson, 22, to spend the last 1 1/2 months wondering what it’s like to get a more traditional introduction to the major-league lifestyle.
He’ll get a taste of what it’s like to pitch in front of fans Tuesday when he takes the mound in a quarter-full Globe Life Field.
Asked if these last few months have been surreal, Anderson said: “Definitely. It’s all happened pretty quickly. ... But [...] the way that we were prepared in the minor leagues in years past, it’s kind of all culminated to this point. I feel prepared and can’t give enough credit to the staff we have here.”
This series will be special for Anderson’s family, too. Twin brother, Ben, a 2019 draft pick of the Texas Rangers, will accompany his parents Tuesday for Anderson’s third start of the playoffs. None have watched him pitch in a game since last summer.
They watched from afar Anderson’s career get off to an impressive start: He had a 1.95 ERA, went 3-2 and struck out 41 in six regular-season starts.
Anderson has kept the momentum in the playoffs. He has yet to give up a run in 11 ⅔ innings. He is only the sixth pitcher in history to open his postseason career with back-to-back scoreless starts of at least five innings. The others were Steve Avery, Jhoulys Chacín, Corey Kluber, Christy Mathewson and Joe Niekro.
“I haven’t seen anything faze him yet,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I think he’ll just pitch to his game and his strengths and enjoy the moment.”
Gonsolin buzzes Acuña, throws scoreless first inning
Tony Gonsolin’s first pitch of the game was up and in against Ronald Acuña Jr., backing the Braves’ leadoff hitter off the plate with a pitch that went off the handle of his bat. It was technically strike one and led to the first of two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 first inning.
Gonsolin got some help from second baseman Chris Taylor for the final out too. Taylor made a diving stop up the middle of the infield and fired a bullet to first to retire Marcell Ozuna. Gonsolin only needed 10 pitches to retire the side.
What to know about Dodgers-Braves NLCS Game 2
First pitch: 3:08 p.m. PT
Dodgers notes: Clayton Kershaw awoke with a lingering back issue, so the Dodgers scratched him from his Game 2 start in favor of Tony Gonsolin. The right-hander had a 2.31 ERA. In his postseason debut, he is tasked with helping the Dodgers avoid an 0-2 start to the NLCS. ... After being held hitless in Game 1, Mookie Betts is batting .304 (7 for 23) with an .892 OPS this postseason. But he has a weakness: Left-handed pitching. Betts batted .200 with an equally paltry .218 slugging percentage against left-handers. The Braves send right-hander Ian Anderson to the mound Tuesday, presenting Betts an opportunity to rebound. ... The Dodgers have lost 10 of their last 11 postseason series when losing Game 1. Their series win came two years ago when they overcame an 0-1 start against the Milwaukee Brewers to win the NL pennant.
Braves notes: The Braves lost an important bat in Monday’s game when outfielder Adam Duvall tweaked an oblique muscle on a second-inning swing. Manager Brian Snitker said Duvall, who did not go to Globe Life Field Tuesday, was hurting both emotionally and physically. “He’s hurt just to not be able to be here with the guys and see this thing through,” Snikter said. ... Third baseman Johan Camargo took Duvall’s roster spot. The Braves will rely on rookie Cristian Pache to help cover for Duvall in the roomy outfield. Pache has only made one previous start in his young career. ... A Dodgers win could spell trouble for the Braves. Historically, the Braves are 1-9 in postseason series when they drop Game 2. ... Braves pitchers have joined rare company this postseason.
Are Braves trying to exploit Mookie Betts’ struggles vs. left-handers?
For all the strengths Mookie Betts has demonstrated this season, the Atlanta Braves appear poised to exploit a curious weakness.
The new three-batter rule can complicate late-inning matchups. With the score tied in the eighth inning of Monday’s National League Championship Series opener, the Dodgers had the top of their lineup coming to bat: two right-handed batters, one left-handed batter.
The Braves, nonetheless, summoned a left-handed reliever, Will Smith. First up: Betts, who bats right-handed.
Dodgers’ pitchers have a need for speed, and Braves hitters feast on fastballs
Walker Buehler had Freddie Freeman right where he wanted him in the first inning Monday night.
The Dodgers starter was ahead 1-and-2 in the count against the Atlanta Braves’ MVP contender. Catcher Will Smith called for the most-used pitch in Buehler’s arsenal to put Freeman away. The right-hander wound up and sent a 97-mph four-seam fastball streaking toward the plate.
Then he watched as Freeman sent it screaming over the right field wall for a solo home run.
Brusdar Graterol and Victor González shine in relief for Dodgers during loss
Brusdar Graterol made the sign of the cross and thrust his right fist toward the sky as he headed to the Dodgers dugout after escaping a two-on, no-outs jam in the sixth inning of Monday night’s National League Championship Series opener against the Atlanta Braves.
Two innings later, Victor Gonzalez looked like he might pop the buttons right off his jersey, so excited was the Dodgers left-hander about striking out pinch-hitter Charlie Culberson with the bases loaded to preserve a tie score in the eighth, an inning-ending whiff he punctuated with a pump-you-up pose and primal scream.
The good times ended abruptly amid a flurry of ninth-inning hits and homers off relievers Blake Treinen and Jake McGee, a four-run meltdown that led to a 5-1 Game 1 loss to the Braves and obscured the continued emergence of one breakout bullpen star and the possible discovery of another.
Dodgers’ NLCS Game 2 starter Tony Gonsolin was a college outfielder, reluctant pitcher
At the start of his first year coaching the Saint Mary’s College baseball team in 2014, Eric Valenzuela had a problem.
The new coach didn’t have enough players. He didn’t have enough pitchers. He didn’t even have enough depth to stage a simple intrasquad scrimmage.
“That’s how tough that first year was,” Valenzuela said. “We were really thin.”
There wasn’t much time to address the roster either. It was too late to bring in new recruits or ready-to-play transfers or NCAA-caliber walk-ons.
Dodgers resurrect their October tradition of feeble offense in loss to Braves
In these most unusual of times, the Dodgers still can be counted on to provide an element of normalcy.
Everything about their 5-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Monday night was familiar, from the successive zeros they posted on the scoreboard at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, to the blank stares of the players along the dugout railing.
Once again, their offense vanished.
“We came up short because we didn’t put at-bats together and we didn’t get runners on base and we weren’t able to pass the baton like we did in the last series,” second baseman Kiké Hernández said.
Dodgers tab left-hander Julio Urías to start the NLCS Game 3 against the Atlanta Braves
Julio Urías will start Game 3 of the National League Championship Series for the Dodgers on Wednesday, the team announced.
It will be the left-handed pitcher’s first start of the postseason and third appearances of these playoffs. In two relief outings in the first two rounds, Urías allowed a single unearned run over eight total innings while striking out 11.
The decision all but eliminates the possibility of Urías pitching in Tuesday’s Game 2, which will be started by Tony Gonsolin after Clayton Kershaw was a late scratch because of back spasms. The Dodgers also won’t have Dustin May available for Tuesday’s game after he pitched 1⅔ innings in Monday’s Game 1.
Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw out for NLCS Game 2 with back spasms; Tony Gonsolin to start
ARLINGTON, Texas — Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from his scheduled start against the Atlanta Braves in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday because of back spasms, the Dodgers announced. Tony Gonsolin will start in his place.
The development comes after the Dodgers dropped Game 1 of the NLCS on Monday 5-1.
Kershaw started two games in the Dodgers’ first two playoff rounds. He logged eight scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts in Game 2 of the wild card series against the Milwaukee Brewers. He then held the San Diego Padres to three runs over six innings in Game 2 of the NL Division Series.