Dodgers, Braves are confident heading into Game 7
Naturally, neither team is ready to surrender before Sunday’s game begins. Here’s what the Dodgers and Braves had to say about their confidence in the team heading into Game 7.
Justin Turner: “If you don’t believe in yourselves, you’re not giving yourself a very good chance. But we have a confident group. Everyone from one guy to the next, all the way down the line, we trust each other. We know we’re going to go out there and do what we have to do to win ball games. Whether that’s swinging the bat or on the mound or defensively, you just see it inning after inning, guys taking pride in contributing and helping the team win games in all facets of the game. That’s something we’re all very proud of.”
Corey Seager: “We have a lot of depth on this team. Starting pitching, bullpen, position players, off the bench. It’s definitely a benefit for us to have something like this. We’ve got four, five, six starters we can run out there. We can throw them in the bullpen and get length out of the bullpen. It’s been huge for us.”
Kiké Hernández: “We can either embrace the situation or pout and go through the motions. That’s not what we’re gonna do. We’re still trying to win the World Series. That’s the goal. Nobody said it would be easy. We’ve won three games in a row a lot of times, but we don’t have to win three, we have to win two in a row. Feeling good about our chances.”
Max Fried: “I have 100% confidence behind [Braves’ Game 7 starter] Ian Anderson. He is as prepared and as smart as they come. You would never know that it was his rookie year. The way that he handles himself and his poise and everything, the way he goes about his business is extremely impressive. So I know that he’s going to be more than ready to go for tomorrow.”
Game 7 starter? Dodgers Dave Roberts won’t say yet
Tony Gonsolin sat in on a Zoom call Saturday morning, dressed in a Jaws-themed shirt, to talk to reporters the day before a potential Game 7. Usually, the starting pitchers who speak a day before a game are the ones making the next start.
Now that the Dodgers have forced a winner-take-all matchup, it doesn’t seem clear that the start will go to Anderson.
“We’re still talking through it,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We have some good names available, but as far as how we deploy these guys, we haven’t figured it out yet.”
Gonsolin could still pitch the majority of innings. But the Dodgers might deploy an opener to face at least the first few batters of the Braves lineup.
Gonsolin opened his Game 2 start with nine straight outs. In the fourth, he issued a leadoff walk to begin his second time through the batting order then promptly gave up a homer to Freddie Freeman.
Photos: Dodgers defeat Braves in NLCS Game 6
The Dodgers are one win away from going back to the World Series.
With their 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday, the Dodgers tied the series to force a Game 7 on Sunday.
Saturday’s win included some spectacular moments. From Walker Buehler’s bases-loaded escape act in the second inning to Mookie Betts’ gravity-defying catch in the fifth, Game 6 had its share of big performances.
Here are some of the best images of the game from Los Angeles Times photographer Robert Gauthier.
Dodgers’ three first-inning runs stand up in win over Braves, force NLCS Game 7
ARLINGTON, Texas — Walker Buehler, the young ace the Dodgers once again needed when the stakes were highest, was in a messy predicament in the second inning of the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday.
Three Atlanta Braves had delivered consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs. The bottom third of Atlanta’s lineup was next. The Dodgers’ early three-run lead was hanging by a thread. In response, Buehler vaulted to another level.
The right-hander fired three fastballs past Austin Riley for a strikeout. Then he fired six more to Nick Markakis. The sixth traveled 100 mph. Markakis kept his bat on his shoulder for strike three. Cristian Pache, a 21-year-old rookie, stood between Buehler and a clean escape.
Jansen records second save of the playoffs; Game 7 is next
There will be a Game 7.
Kenley Jansen retired the Braves in order in the ninth — all flyball outs — to stave off elimination.
The Dodgers started the series 0-2. They will play Sunday for a World Series berth.
Joc Pederson enters in left, makes stellar diving play
Wow. Kenley Jansen’s first pitch was rocketed to left field but Joc Pederson, who just entered the game, was there.
Nick Markakis then flew out on the second pitch of the inning for the second out. Pablo Sandoval, 0 for 4 in his career against Jansen, is up now.
Here comes Kenley
To the ninth we go, and for a second straight day Kenley Jansen comes trotting to the mound to close it out. Jansen needed just 12 pitches to strike out the side in the ninth last night.
Jansen threw on back-to-back nights seven times this regular season, allowing only one run in 6 ⅓ innings in the second game of those appearances. When he appeared on consecutive days in the NLDS last week, however, he allowed two runs and three hits in just ⅔ of an inning before being relieved by Joe Kelly, who finished the game and prevented Jansen from suffering a blown save.
Jansen told reporters this morning that having a defined role – his has changed as he struggled earlier this postseason – doesn’t matter in the postseason. But he’ll take over now, with the Braves’ bottom three batters in the order due up, in the spot he’s most accustomed: A save situation with the game – and the Dodgers’ season – on his shoulders.
It’s 3-1 Dodgers. Three outs to go.
Dodgers burn the DH, don’t score in the eighth
The Dodgers will have to burn their designated hitter, as they picked Edwin Ríos to pinch-hit in place of catcher Austin Barnes. Ríos drew a walk, but was stranded as Mookie Betts flied out to center.
With Barnes out of the game, designated hitter Will Smith will now take over behind the plate.
Cristian Pache robs another Dodger of a hit
It seems as though the Dodgers can’t best Braves rookie Cristan Pache. The 21-year-old made a long run from deep center field to rob Cody Bellinger of what would likely been a bloop hit to lead off the eighth inning.
More on the play:
Pache, who had made one MLB start in his career before taking over for injured outfielder Adam Duvall in Game 1 of this series, robbed Max Muncy of extra bases in Game 5, too.
Báez retires Braves in order in eighth
Pedro Báez had to work for it, but he threw a perfect eighth inning to fend off the Braves.
The Dodgers still lead 3-1.
Dodgers’ Pedro Báez takes over for Blake Treinen in the eighth
The Dodgers failed to take advantage of another baserunner. Now Pedro Báez is in for the eighth inning. He’ll try to protect a 3-1 lead.
Fried’s day ends after punchout of Muncy
That was a gutsy performance from Harvard-Westlake High product Max Fried. The Braves left-hander issued a one-out walk on six pitches to Justin Turner. Then he got into a seven-pitch battle with Max Muncy and emerged victorious. Muncy swung and missed at a shoulder-high 95 mph fastball for the second out.
Fried left the game. Darren O’Day is in.
Max Fried returns for the seventh
The Braves are sticking with Max Fried. He just retired Corey Seager on a ground ball — his 96th pitch — to start the seventh.
Blake Treinen ties up Freddie Freeman, gets out of jam
Freddie Freeman has had multiple big hits for the Braves in this series. But Blake Treinen didn’t let the Braves star send Ronald Acuña Jr. home in the seventh.
In a 1-2 count, he threw a 99 mph fastball up and in that Freeman fouled up. On the next pitch, Freeman whiffed at high fastball for the second out of the inning.
Treinen then retired Marcell Ozuna to end the Braves’ threat. The Dodgers still lead 3-1.
Braves are rallying in seventh
Walker Buehler yielded to teammate Blake Treinen and the Braves took advantage.
Nick Markakis tripled into the right-field corner to lead off the seventh, then scored on Ronald Acuña Jr.’s one-out double. The Dodgers’ lead was cut to 3-1.
Max Fried made Dodgers waste another baserunner
Here’s something: After giving up a one-out single to Austin Barnes in the sixth, Max Fried was left in the game to face Mookie Betts for a fourth time.
And he rewarded manager Brian Snitker for having faith in him. Betts rolled a middle-of-the-zone curveball — as in, the same pitch the Dodgers were rumored to have a key on — to left side of the infield for an inning-ending double play.
Fried is through six innings on 95 pitches. The Braves had Darren O’Day warming throughout the sixth, so it seems Fried might not come back out for the seventh.
If so, he has done well in the face of adversity. He has given up eight hits but has held the Dodgers scoreless since their three-run first.
Buehler exits, Treinen on in relief to begin the seventh
Walker Buehler’s day is over after six scoreless innings. He worked around seven hits but didn’t walk anyone while striking out six. He threw 89 pitches, 65 for strikes. His ERA this postseason is now 1.89.
Blake Treinen comes on in relief.
Braves make another mistake on the bases, fail to score again as Buehler completes the sixth
After Marcell Ozuna’s baserunning mistake turned the momentum in last night’s game, Atlanta committed another error on the base paths in the sixth today. With one out, Ozzie Albies hit a slow grounder down the first base line. Max Muncy charged on the ball and tried to tag Albies as the runner ran up the line.
Muncy got his glove on Albies, but not before the ball popped out of his glove. Albies, however, didn’t realize it. Instead of running through the bag, he took a wide turn and never touched the base, allowing Walker Buehler to pick up the ball and tag him out.
In the next at-bat, Dansby Swanson singled and later stole second and advanced to third on a bad throw. But he was stranded there. Had Albies reached safely ahead of Swanson’s single, who knows how differently that inning might have played out.
Through six innings, Buehler is still scoreless. His pitch count is at 89. It’s still 3-0 Dodgers.
Dodgers haven’t gotten to Fried since the first
Remember two hours ago when it looked like Max Fried was going to implode for the Braves?
He has done anything but since giving up three runs in the first. Fried has pitched well with traffic in each inning, navigating with aplomb the Dodgers’ lineup nearly three times through without yielding another score.
Fried has generated misses on seven of 39 Dodger swings.
He is at 85 pitches after five innings. If he comes out for the sixth inning, Fried will likely be on a short leash.
Mookie Betts makes another incredible catch
Mookie Betts did it again in right field, going up for a leaping catch at the wall to end the fifth and strand another Braves runner. Marcell Ozuna hit a curveball to the deepest part of right field, but Betts went up and brought back a certain extra-base (and likely run-scoring) hit.
He didn’t hold back celebrating the moment too. It remains 3-0 Dodgers.
Do the Dodgers have a key on Max Fried?
ESPN’s Buster Olney has heard from one of his sources that the Dodgers may know when Braves starter Max Fried’s curveball is coming.
Update those swing/contact numbers after Justin Turner grounded out to end the fourth inning. Turner swatted a curveball thrown over the outer-edge of the plate for a weak grounder to third base.
Turner’s groundout left two runners stranded. The Dodgers continue to lead 3-0 heading into the fifth.
Buehler works out of another jam
The Braves are putting pressure on Walker Buehler, but so far the Dodgers starter hasn’t cracked.
In the fourth, Travis d’Arnaud lead off the inning by singling on the first pitch, then Dansby Swanson went the other way for a one-out knock to put runners on first and second.
Then Buehler slammed the door again, getting Austin Riley to line out to center before making a nice play himself on Nick Markakis’ chopper back to the mound.
Through four innings, he’s stranded all five of his hits allowed and is only at 65 pitches. The Braves are just one-for-six with runners in scoring position.
Walker Buehler’s former roommate has his number today
Twice the Braves’ Dansby Swanson has come to the plate against Dodgers starter Walker Buehler on Saturday, and twice he has knocked a ball into the outfield for a single.
Buehler and Swanson go way back. The two were teammates at Vanderbilt before they were drafted in the first round in 2015 (Swanson 1st overall, Buehler 24th). At one point, they lived together.
But Swanson didn’t have much luck against his friend before Saturday. He was 1 for 6 with a walk entering the game.
His luck only goes so far. Swanson was stranded after his fourth-inning hit.
Dodgers strand their baserunners in back-to-back innings
Max Muncy led off the Dodgers’ half of the third inning with a 110 mph single to right field. It seemed like a sign of things to come.
But Braves starter Max Fried retired the next three batters to keep his team’s deficit at 3-0.
Fried has given up hits in each inning but he has limited damage since the first. He’s now at 47 pitches through three innings. The Braves may not have to dip into their bullpen just yet.
What’s Stan’s Rodeo Rub anyway? More on the ointment helping Buehler’s blister
Fox Sports’ broadcast reported that Walker Buehler has been using a product called Stan’s Rodeo Rub to help treat his blistered fingers.
Want to know more about the product that was invented by a former Dodgers trainer? Here’s a 2003 story about it from our archives.
(Spoiler: There’s a backstory to why “Rodeo” is in the name)
Buehler uses fastball to get another scoreless inning
Walker Buehler has gone from having a blistered finger to a blistering fastball.
Thanks to the help of “Stan’s Rodeo Rub,” an ointment that was invented by a former Dodgers trainer that the Fox broadcast said Buehler has been using on those blister, the pitcher looks back to full strength, as evidenced by his dominance with the four-seamer.
Back when the bases were loaded with no outs in the second-inning, the right-hander threw 10 straight fastballs (and 12 straight fastballs or cutters) to get strikeouts of Austin Riley and Nick Markakis and put Ozzie Albies in an 0-and-2 count that led to his groundout.
In the third, he went back to the fastball again, using it to get Ronald Acuña Jr. to fly out, Freddie Freeman to strike out and Marcell Ozuna to ground out.
Buehler has used his four-seamer 29 times (and his cutter seven times) in 46 pitches, averaging 97.8 mph and getting six swing-and-misses. It’s still 3-0 Dodgers.
Mookie Betts’ single off Max Fried is a good sign
As has been well-documented, Mookie Betts has not handled left-handed pitching well this season.
So it’s a good sign that he ambushed a first-pitch slider from Max Fried for a single up the middle with one out in the second. It was just his third hit in 18 at-bats against left-handers.
His Dodger teammates stranded him, though. On to the third...
Walker Buehler is getting first-pitch strikes again
Walker Buehler is a master at missing bats. He entered Saturday’s game with 23 strikeouts this postseason.
But it is also true that the Dodgers starter has struggled to get ahead of batters. Through his first three playoff starts, he threw first-pitch strikes to 39 of 58 batters. That resulted in 11 walks.
Buehler, who has spent all season battling a blister issue, has reversed course Saturday. He has thrown first-pitch strikes to eight of nine batters. The approach has led to two strikeouts and no walks through two innings.
The Dodgers lead 3-0.
Buehler strikes out two to get out of bases-loaded jam
Walker Buehler did not give in. After loading the bases in the second, Buehler retired the next three Braves in order to wiggle out of the jam.
Braves load bases to start second inning
The Braves have Walker Buehler on the ropes. The Dodgers starter has given up three singles to begin the second innning.
Austin Riley, whose Game 1 homer led the Braves to a win, is up with the bases loaded and no out.
Update: He struck out on three straight fastballs.
Dodgers attack Fried’s breaking pitches in three-run first
In Game 1, Max Fried used his curveball and slider to keep the Dodgers off-balance all game. That night, he threw the two pitches 50 times, got eight swing-and-misses and only allowed one hit on four balls put in play.
In today’s first inning? Not so much.
The left-hander threw 12 breaking pitches in the first inning. Three were put in play, including Corey Seager’s home run and Cody Bellinger’s single. Also, the Dodgers only fanned at one of the throws.
Dodgers take a quick 3-0 lead
The Dodgers aren’t letting up on Braves starter Max Fried.
Max Muncy drew a walk after the back-to-back homers, advanced to third on Will Smith’s ensuing single and scored on Cody Bellinger’s hit. It’s 3-0.
By the way, Fried gave up two homers in 56 regular-season innings.
He gave up two in his first eight pitches Saturday.
Make that 2-0 on Justin Turner’s solo homer
The Dodgers went to back-to-back. Justin Turner crushed a homer to center field. It’s 2-0 now.
Corey Seager delivers again
Corey Seager came to the plate and drilled Max Fried’s hanging curveball for a deep solo shot to right field.
It was a record.
Meet Max Fried (again), the Braves’ Game 6 starter
ARLINGTON, Texas — For the second time in six days, the Dodgers will face Atlanta Braves ace Max Fried in Game 6. And if they want their season to continue, they’ll likely need to do more damage against him than they did in Game 1.
Back in Monday’s series-opener, the left-hander allowed only one run and four hits over six innings. He struck out nine. He walked only two. And the Dodgers swung and missed at more pitches (14) than they put in play (13).
Asked to describe the 26-year-old Santa Monica native – who, when he has pitched this year, the Braves are 13-1– in one word, Braves teammate Cristian Pache instead picked three.
“He’s the man,” Pache said in Spanish.
That’s been especially true – surprisingly – against right-handed hitters. When facing batters on the other side of the plate this season, Fried’s splits were better in batting average (.209 against righties, .220 against lefties), slugging (.316 against righties, .390 against lefties) and strikeout-to-walk rate (2.69 to righties, 2.33 to lefties).
In Game 1, key right-handed Dodgers hitters struggled. Mookie Betts and Will Smith were 0-for-4. Justin Turner, AJ Pollock and Kiké Hernández each recorded only one hit (Hernández’s was a solo home run).
All five of them are back in today’s lineup, as is right-handed hitting catcher Austin Barnes. Corey Seager, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger are the three lefties starting for the Dodgers today.
Walker Buehler off to a quick start
Walker Buehler threw eight pitches in a perfect first inning. Only one of his pitches was a ball. He got first-pitch strikes on all three batters.
That’s a much better first inning than in his Game 1 start. He faced five Braves and gave up a homer and a walk.
Tony Gonsolin picked a Jaws-themed shirt for a reason
Tony Gonsolin wore this shirt of a cat in the style of the “Jaws” poster on the way to the stadium.
“It’s a pretty nice shirt,” he said before Game 6. “I feel like it’s aggressive, like that’s what we need to do today, be aggressive.”
Gonsolin will pitch Game 7 if the Dodgers win Saturday.
What to know about Dodgers-Braves NLCS Game 6
First pitch: 1:38 p.m. PT
Dodgers notes: Starter Walker Buehler has been turned to in tough situations before, and he has delivered. Combine his numbers from Game 163 in 2018, Game 7 of the ’18 NLCS, Game 3 of the ’18 World Series and Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS: Two runs and 24 strikeouts over 25 innings. Of those games, the Dodgers only lost Game 5 of the ’19 division series. … The Dodgers have been trailing in this series since it began but not once have they sweated it. The players say they have encouraged each other all week, both in person and in the text message chains they have created. … We’ll let Kiké Hernández explain the mindset: “We can either embrace the situation or pout and go through the motions. That’s not what we’re gonna do. We’re still trying to win the World Series. That’s the goal. Nobody said it would be easy. We’ve won three games in a row a lot of times, but we don’t have to win three [now]. We have to win two in a row.” … Buehler has struck out at least seven batters in nine straight postseason starts. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only other pitcher to enjoy a postseason streak that long is Randy Johnson (Oct. 5, 1997 - Nov. 3, 2001). … Fans at Globe Life Field will hear the musical stylings of Dodgers organist Dieter Ruehle. Since the Dodgers are the home team, they’re in charge of providing the stadium soundtrack.
Braves notes: The Braves have a very close bond, too. Especially their relievers. Will Smith, who gave up the go-ahead homer to the Dodgers’ Will Smith on Friday night, said members of the bullpen debriefed following their meltdown. … Manager Brian Snitker: “There’s kind of an old school vibe in there, that these guys are sitting around talking about the game. And it’s a really cool thing to see because that was, it was gone.” … Atlanta was 26-1 when leading after five innings prior to last night’s game, the best record in the NL. … It’s Snitker’s 65th birthday. Here’s a fun fact.
Kenley Jansen on his steely stare toward Dodgers’ dugout: ‘It was: Let’s go’
Kenley Jansen fired his hardest pitch of the night. Then he shot his dugout a fiery, intense stare.
Observers on social media tried to decipher its meaning. Was it a scowl at manager Dave Roberts for reducing his role in the bullpen? Was it a glare at his teammates, reminding them of his dominance after striking out the side to finish Game 5 of the National League Championship Series?
Was it an internal release of frustration after another round of questions and criticism over the once-dominant closer’s recent decline?
Corey Seager says his breakout playoff performance incomplete without a Dodgers title
Highlights from the Dodgers’ 7-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLCS on Friday.
ARLINGTON, Texas — This isn’t the postseason Corey Seager imagined for himself. Not yet, anyway.
He’s collected clutch hits and clobbered game-changing home runs. He’s set personal highs and all-time records. He’s finally healthy and hot at the same time. And yet, only a ring will make these playoffs complete.
“The whole goal is to win,” Seager said Friday night, having authored his most signature performance yet with two home runs in the Dodgers’ elimination-evading Game 5 win over the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series.
“We haven’t done that yet. So regardless of what you’re doing, if you don’t win at the end of the year, it’s not the same.”
Promising sign? Kenley Jansen shows some old strikeout magic in Dodgers’ win
Kenley Jansen did not make his name as an All-Star closer with a 100-mph fastball. He did it not with straight heat but with a cut fastball, a pitch that darts away from the batter rather than overwhelms him. In his heyday, he averaged 94 mph on the pitch.
And, hey, that made Friday’s 7-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series special for Jansen and the Dodgers. It was just like old times: Jansen closing out a postseason victory by striking out the side, with his final pitch at 94 mph.
“That was one of the highlights for all of us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “to see the way he commanded the baseball, he attacked and closed the game out. That was really good to see.”
Hernández: Dodgers’ biggest swing of the series comes from the glove of Mookie Betts
He’s the kind of player whom other players tell stories about.
Years from now, when teammates and coaches share the lessons they learned by watching Mookie Betts play, they will recount the Dodgers’ 7-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
About how Betts changed the game with his glove.
About how he influenced a series in which he was batting only .222.
About how he was worth $365 million because he cared about the less glamorous parts of the game.
Rookies flourish during an October devoid of fans and a feverish playoff atmosphere
Had this been a regular postseason, Atlanta pitcher Ian Anderson would have made Tuesday’s Game 2 start in Dodger Stadium with more than 50,000 hostile fans doing everything they could to intimidate, harass and distract the rookie right-hander.
Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the game to Arlington, Texas, at neutral-site Globe Life Field, where a quarter-capacity crowd of 10,624 was split between the Braves and the Dodgers and nowhere near as intimidating as a packed house in Chavez Ravine.
Anderson, who made all of six big league starts before these playoffs, blanked the Dodgers on one hit for four innings of an 8-7 victory, running the 22-year-old’s postseason scoreless streak to 15-2/3 innings in three starts.
Dodgers vs. Braves lineups: Chris Taylor will not start in NLCS Game 6
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the ankle felt better than Taylor anticipated and he expects to be available off the bench Saturday. Taylor, according to Roberts, didn’t need to take any tests. Taylor injured the ankle when he slipped making a throw from left field in the eighth inning Friday. He initially stayed in the game but was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
Game 5 recap: Will Smith’s homer helps Dodgers rally past Braves
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Will Smith versus Will Smith. It was an apt battle for a game-changing moment in Major League Baseball’s warped 2020 season.
With his team trailing by a run, 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 night.
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.
Dodgers catcher Will Smith hits a three-run home run off Braves reliever Will Smith in Game 5 of the NLCS.
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.