Dodgers and Braves should be among elite National League teams for years
The Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves pushed the National League Championship Series to the limit with Sunday night’s winner-take-all Game 7 in Globe Life Field.
Don’t be surprised if these teams are back in the NLCS again next season, battling each other for a World Series berth. And maybe the year after that.
The Dodgers, with their deep-pocketed owners, top-notch scouting and player development and keen eye for finding talent on the margins, are a perennial power, having won eight straight division titles.
But the Braves, with most valuable player candidate Freddie Freeman, a dynamic young core of position players led by Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies and one of baseball’s most promising young rotations, should be a force for years.
Dodgers defeat Braves on Cody Bellinger’s blast, advance to the World Series
ARLINGTON, Texas — The at-bat that propelled the Dodgers to their third National League pennant in four years Sunday night appropriately embodies a club that is four wins away from finally reaching the finish line.
It happened in the seventh inning in the Dodgers’ 4-3 win in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves at Globe Life Field. Cody Bellinger was at the plate with the bases empty. Chris Martin stood 60 feet, 6 inches away. Martin was one out from keeping the game tied. Bellinger wouldn’t let him slip away.
The count was 2-2 when Bellinger fouled off three straight pitches — two sinkers and a cutter. The next pitch, the eighth of the battle, was a 94-mph sinker that Martin wishes he could have back. It was up and over the plate. Bellinger feasted, launching it over the right-field wall to give the Dodgers the lead they needed.
Dodgers secure Game 7 victory in NLCS to clinch World Series berth
The Dodgers came back a long way.
They vanquished the Braves’ two-games-to-one lead, staved off elimination for two straight nights and rallied from behind win 4-3 Sunday night.
And now they’re headed to the World Series, where they will face the Tampa Bay Rays.
Julio Urías will pitch the ninth
The Dodgers need three more outs to clinch a World Series berth and Julio Urías is the pitcher entrusted with securing them.
He has thrown 19 of 29 pitches for strikes and allowed no baserunners through two innings.
Julio Urías hasn’t pitched with a baserunner in two innings
The Dodgers are three outs from a World Series berth.
Julio Urías has thrown two perfect innings since entering in the seventh. No one is warming in the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Cody Bellinger slugs a mammoth go-ahead homer
Cody Bellinger broke Statcast when he ended an eight-pitch battle against Braves reliever Chris Martin with a towering home run to right field.
The two-out, solo shot put the Dodgers ahead 4-3 in the seventh.
It has been at least two minutes and Baseball Savant has no reading on the homer. We’ll find out soon just how thoroughly Bellinger obliterated that pitch.
Julio Urías pitches a perfect seventh
Julio Urías fired a 10-pitch seventh to keep the Braves off the bases.
The game remains tied 3-3. Chris Martin is still pitching for the Braves.
Dodgers done in the sixth. Julio Urías takes the mound for the seventh.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Justin Turner flied out to end the sixth. We go to the seventh tied at 3-3. Julio Urías will take the mound four days after throwing 101 pitches in Game 3.
Another big baserunning play — but this one goes against L.A.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Now it’s the Braves turn to punish the Dodgers for overaggressive baserunning.
Chris Taylor followed Kiké Hernández’s homer with a double down the line and advanced to third on a Mookie Betts fly ball.
But when Corey Seager grounded to Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies with one out, Taylor broke for the plate and slid head first. Albies threw him out with a perfect throw to catcher Travis d’Arnaud.
That’s all for Braves reliever AJ Minter, who is replaced by right-hander Chris Martin with Justin Turner coming to the plate. Game still tied at 3-3.
Tie game. Kiké Hernández pinch-hit blast makes it 3-3
ARLINGTON, Texas — Nervous anticipation just turned into a euphoric eruption at Globe Life Field.
Kiké Hernández has tied Game 7 with a towering pinch-hit, solo home run to lead off the sixth inning. The Dodger fans here, who’d been growing increasingly tense with every passing inning, exploded in celebration.
So did Hernández, who flung his bat and bounced down the first-base line as the ball cleared the fence in left.
Dodgers’ Brusdar Graterol bends but doesn’t crack
Brusdar Graterol came into the sixth inning firing, 100 mph pitches coming out of his hand with his usual ease.
The only problem: He wasn’t able to locate all of them. After one out, Graterol walked Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies on four straight pitches, and the slider was the only one of the sequence that didn’t touch 100 mph.
But the Dodgers reliever rebounded quick. In a 1-2 count, he got Dansby Swanson to whiff at a slider for the second out. He then threw Austin Riley the same pitch, but an up-and-away, in an 0-2 count. Riley stared at it and was rung up on strikes.
The Dodgers still trail 3-2 heading to the bottom of the sixth. Braves’ A.J. Minter, who threw three scoreless innings and struck out seven to open their Game 5 victory, is in the game now.
Dodgers threaten again, but still trail 3-2
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Dodgers got another baserunner in the fifth on a one-out Cody Bellinger walk. But AJ Pollock grounded into a double-play on the next pitch.
The Dodgers have 12 outs left, but trail 3-2 going into the sixth.
Brusdar Graterol will pitch the inning for the Dodgers.
Mookie Betts does it again in Braves’ scoreless fifth
Mookie Betts. Again.
The Dodgers’ $365-million man just robbed the Braves of another extra-base. This time, the victim was Freddie Freeman, who nearly hit a homer to extend the Braves’ 3-2 lead in the fifth.
Betts made it look routine.
Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts robs Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman of a home run in NLCS Game 7.
Matzek comes out of the bullpen, works around bases-loaded jam
ARLINGTON, Texas — To begin the fourth, the Braves turned to the bullpen, summoning left-hander Tyler Matzek to replace Ian Anderson.
Matzek got in quick trouble, loading the bases with a Chris Taylor single and walks to Mookie Betts and Justin Turner.
But, the left-handed reliever kept the Braves’ 3-2 lead intact, striking out Max Muncy with a 97 mph fastball up the in the zone for the final out.
The Dodgers are just one-for-seven with runners in scoring position and have left eight men on base.
Braves goofed on the basepaths in the fourth
After Blake Treinen threw a breaking pitch in the dirt that skipped away and put runners in scoring position, he induced a ground ball to the third base side to get out of a no-out fourth-inning jam.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner threw home to tag out Dansby Swanson, who started a rundown as the runner behind him hesitated to take off for third base on the play. Austin Riley committed to advancing on the base paths a few seconds too late. Turner made an athletic diving play to tag out Swanson, then turned and threw to third base to throw out Riley.
Treinen got a flyball to get out of the fourth.
Best images from Dodgers vs. Braves in NLCS Game 7
The Dodgers and Atlanta Braves are playing in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The winner will play the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, starting Tuesday.
Here are some of the best images of the game from longtime Los Angeles Times photographer Robert Gauthier.
Gonsolin gives up go-ahead single; Treinen enters game
With activity going in the bullpen, Tony Gonsolin cracked and gave up a single to the Braves’ Austin Riley. The soft hit to shallow center field scored the speedy Ozzie Albies from second base.
The Braves lead the Dodgers 3-2. After a few moments, Dave Roberts gave Gonsolin the hook. Blake Treinen is coming into the game with two on and none out in the fourth.
Gonsolin threw 41 pitches in two-plus innings. There’s a long way to go.
Braves put two runners on after losing lead
Tony Gonsolin is currently working on the opposite of a shut-down inning. He has issued back-to-back walks to Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson to start the fourth.
Gonsolin might be on a short leash. Clayton Kershaw is stretching out and running around in the bullpen and reliever Blake Treinen is throwing warm-up pitches.
Dodgers tie it with two-out rally in the third
ARLINGTON, Texas — Facing the top of the order for a second time, Ian Anderson looked headed for a quick inning after retiring Mookie Betts and Corey Seager on four pitches.
Then, the Dodgers offense came alive. Justin Turner drew a full-count walk. Max Muncy hammered a fastball into the corner for a double. Then Will Smith drove them both home by lining a single the other way.
It’s tied at 2-2. Tyler Matzek is warming up in the Braves bullpen.
Tony Gonsolin throws quick third inning
Tony Gonsolin needed only five pitches to retire the Braves’ top three batters in the third inning.
That’s one way to rebound.
Dodgers still trail 2-0.
Dodgers extend Ian Anderson’s second but fail to score
When AJ Pollock roped a single into left field and advanced to third base on Joc Pederson’s ensuing two-out single, the Dodgers seemed poised to take advantage of Braves starter Ian Anderson in the second.
Pederson’s soft hit aside, Anderson had given up extremely hard contact. The Dodgers were just sending pitches right where they could be caught.
But Chris Taylor couldn’t deliver. He worked a long at-bat and forced Anderson to drive up his pitch count into the mid-40s. But Taylor struck out after seven pitches on a changeup just below the zone to leave his teammates stranded.
Dodgers and Braves are both stinging the ball
The scoreboard may not show it but hitters are off to a blistering start in this game.
Of the first 11 balls put in play, none left the bat with an exit velocity below 90.6 mph. Add AJ Pollock’s 106.3 mph two-out single in the second inning to the list below.
Joc Pederson’s two-out single broke the streak. It had an exit velocity of 82.1 mph.
Braves make Gonsolin work in second inning
Tony Gonsolin has one thing going for him that Dustin May didn’t: An ability to throw first-pitch strikes.
That’s only made it slightly easier for him to navigate the Braves lineup so far. After Dansby Swanson’s solo homer — which was the third of his postseason, most by a Braves shortstop in a single playoff, per MLB.com’s Sarah Langs — he got a flyout in three pitches then battled. Nick Markakis worked a five-pitch at-bat before striking out. And Cristian Pache worked a 3-2 count before drawing a walk on the eight-pitch of his plate appearance.
Ronald Acuña Jr. flew out in a 2-0 count to end the inning.
Gonsolin threw 22 pitches, 12 for strikes, in the second inning.
Wind report: Not bad now, could pick up later
ARLINGTON, Texas — AJ Pollock went on a bit of an adventure down the left-field line trying to catch Ronald Acuña Jr.'s fly ball to end the second.
Did the wind impact it? Maybe, but right now the breeze inside the stadium feels pretty light, though the game-time wind speed was recorded at 10 mph out to right field, second-highest of the series.
According to the National Weather Service, there could be gusts of 15 mph or more closer to midnight central time.
Swanson homers off Gonsolin. 2-0 Braves
ARLINGTON, Texas — Tony Gonsolin’s outing is not off to a much better start than Dustin May’s. In his first at-bat, Gonsolin left a slider up in the zone that Dansby Swanson swatted into the left-field seats.
The solo home run makes it 2-0 Braves in the second.
Betts stranded in scoring position; Gonsolin on to pitch the second
ARLINGTON, Texas — After starting the series two-for-16, Mookie Betts is now four for his last seven after singling in a full count to lead off the game. Betts moved up to second a ground ball from Corey Seager (who was receiving “M-V-P” chants from Dodgers fans as he came to the plate) but was stranded there.
Tony Gonsolin is coming in to pitch for the Dodgers to begin the second, with the Braves leading 1-0.
Dustin May survives first, limits damage at only one run
ARLINGTON, Texas — It looked like Dustin May was spiraling toward a calamitous start to the game after allowing the first three Braves batters to reach and allowing a run.
But then, he settled down, getting Travis d’Arnaud to ground into a double-play before striking out Ozzie Albies with a 100 mph fastball.
Tony Gonsolin is still warming up in the Dodgers bullpen between innings. It’s 1-0 Braves.
Ian Anderson back on the mound for Braves in Game 7
ARLINGTON, Texas — Ian Anderson only pitched four innings in his Game 2 start on Tuesday, but he was able to spend the rest of that night smiling from the dugout’s top rail, his scoreless start key to a victory that cemented the Braves’ early advantage in this series.
That advantage is gone now, as Anderson takes the mound again in a winner-take-all Game 7. And this time, the Dodgers feel like they’ll have a better grasp of the 22-year-old right-hander’s arsenal.
“We saw a lot of pitches in four innings” in Game 2, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “So I expect to just take good at-bats and if he makes mistakes to capitalize.”
The Braves, however, are hopeful the rookie can continue his near-historic performance in these playoffs. The pitcher will be trying to extend his 15 ⅔ inning scoreless streak to begin the postseason. He is three innings away from Michael Wacha’s rookie playoff scoreless streak streak record.
Anderson relies primarily on three pitches, a mid-90s mph four-seam fastball, an upper-80s mph changeup and a curveball. The changeup was his best pitch during the regular season, with opponents collecting only five hits against it (a .104 batting average) while striking out 19 times.
“They’re really good at taking tough pitches and close pitches,” Anderson said Saturday. “If you get them in a count where you can kind of make something happen, it’s in your favor. I think you have to kind of try and go for it right there. So we’ll see what happens.”
Three batters in, Braves take 1-0 lead
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dustin May off to a shaky start. After missing the zone with his first eight pitches, walking Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman to begin the game, Marcell Ozuna drove an RBI single into left field to make it 1-0 Braves.
Tony Gonsolin is already warming up in the bullpen. Prior to the Ozuna at-bat, pitching coach Mark Prior came to the mound for a chat.
Low on offensive flow? Why Dodgers should be concerned about hitting in NLCS Game 7
The Dodgers have seen offensive momentum flow from one game to the next this postseason.
They managed one run and six hits in the first 15 innings of the National League Championship Series before breaking out with seven runs and eight hits, including two homers, in the final three innings of an 8-7 Game 2 loss to the Braves.
Dodgers’ Corey Seager, having a historic postseason, is ‘The Guy’ again
What Corey Seager is doing in the National League Championship Series isn’t a surprise.
It’s a course correction.
Seager was always destined for a postseason like this, to be the most lethal offensive weapon for the Dodgers in their most important games.
His regular-season renaissance has led to an October for the ages, which continued Saturday. Seager launched a solo home run to spark a three-run first inning that was ultimately the difference for the Dodgers in their 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Scream, dance and shout, Dodgers fans, for the two sweetest words in all of sports
Mookie Betts screamed it as he danced away from another miracle catch.
Corey Seager bellowed it as he rounded the bases after another bludgeoned homer.
Walker Buehler hissed it as he pumped obscene fastballs across the black.
The two words the Dodgers have been chasing for two desperate days finally came into their grasp on a rollicking Saturday afternoon filled with the sounds of resilience and relief.
Youngest Game 7 starters in Dodgers history
When Dustin May takes the mound for the Dodgers against the Atlanta Braves tonight, he’ll become the second youngest pitcher in Dodgers history to start a playoff game.
Johnny Podres, who delivered a remarkable performance in Brooklyn Dodgers’ win over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1955 World Series, remains the youngest player in franchise history to start a postseason content.
Johnny Podres-x, 23 years, 4 days, 1955 World Series, Eight-hit shutout, Dodgers 2, Yankees 0
Dustin May, 23 years, 42 days, 2020 NLCS
Walker Buehler, 24 years, 84 days, 2018 NLCS, 4.2 IP, 1 ER, Dodgers 5, Milwaukee 1
Hal Gregg, 26 years, 87 days, 1947 World Series, 3.2 IP, 3 ER, Yankees 5, Dodgers 2
Burleigh Grimes, 27 years, 55 days, 1920 World Series, 7 IP, 2 ER, Cleveland 3, Dodgers 0
Joe Black, 28 years, 242 days, 1952 World Series, 5.1 IP, 3 ER, Yankees 4, Dodgers 2
Sandy Koufax-x, 29 years, 288 days, 1965 World Series, Three-hit shutout, Dodgers 2, Minnesota 0
Orel Hershiser-x, 30 years, 26 days, 1988 NLCS, Five-hit shutout, Dodgers 6, NY Mets 0
Don Newcombe, 30 years, 118 days, 1956 World Series, 3 IP, 5 ER,, Yankees 9, Dodgers 0
Yu Darvish, 31 years, 77 days, 2017 World Series, 1.2 IP, 4 ER, Houston 5, Dodgers 1
*-1920 World Series was best of nine. Cleveland won series, 5-2.
What to know about Dodgers-Braves NLCS Game 7
First pitch: 5:15 p.m. PT
Game notes: Game 7 is here, and there are a few astounding facts to catch up on, courtesy of team notes. … This winner-take-all-game is the first in baseball history to feature two rookie starting pitchers. … Before this series, the Dodgers had never come back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a Game 7. … The Dodgers are 2-3 in clinching games in the postseason over the last five years. … A Braves loss tonight would mark the end of a historic collapse. The team has never lost a league championship series in which it had taken a 2-0 lead. The Braves appeared in 11 league championship series before this one. … A Dodgers victory would give the team three consecutive NLCS wins for the third time in history. The Dodgers appeared in 12 league championship series before 2020.
Hottest bats: Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is hitting .333 (14 for 42) in the playoffs with an NL-leading (and Los Angeles record) six homers and 15 RBIs. His five homers and 11 RBIs in the NLCS is a record. Another homer will tie Seager with Nelson Cruz (2011 ALCS) for the most home runs in a single posteason series. … Since Game 3 of the Braves’ division series, Freddie Freeman of El Modena High has gone 11 for 26 during a seven-game hit streak for Atlanta.
Confident and forceful, Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen tries to restore his bullpen ace legacy
Kenley Jansen didn’t leave the field for a long time Saturday night.
His appearance in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series was brief — six quick pitches that netted the final three outs of the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves — a result that staved off elimination and sets up a Game 7 on Sunday night.
But before he returned to the clubhouse, he was asked to wait around for two postgame television interviews. Between them, he was serenaded with cheers from Dodgers fans.
Dodgers vs. Braves lineups: Dustin May to start NLCS Game 7
It won’t be a conventional start for May. The right-hander started Game 5 on Friday and lasted just two innings, throwing 50 pitches. That outing, however, was enough to limit his potential workload two days later.
Instead, he will be an opener for the second time in this postseason. May also opened Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres. He walked one and had a strikeout in one scoreless inning.
Mookie Betts gets a chance to live out his childhood dream scenario in NLCS Game 7
Mookie Betts won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2018 and has played in 32 playoff games during his seven-year career, but the right fielder will play in his first winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday night when the Dodgers play the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series finale at Globe Life Field.
“When I was a kid, you do think 3-2 [count], bottom of the ninth, Game 7,” Betts said in a pregame video call Sunday, when asked if he had played out such scenarios as a child. “But when you’re in the yard, you get retries. This time, you don’t get a retry. It’s one game, and you have to put everything on the line.”
The Dodgers pushed the series to its limit by storming back from a three-games-to-one deficit, beating the Braves 7-3 in Game 5 on Friday night and 3-1 in Game 6 on Saturday to even the series. The winner of Sunday night’s game will play the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series beginning Tuesday night.