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Dodgers Dugout: Where there’s a Will (Smith), there’s a way

Will Smith leaps during a celebration of his three-run homer against the Atlanta Braves on Friday.
(Associated Press)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and this version of Will Smith against Will Smith was much better than “Gemini Man”.

Some random Game 5 thoughts:

—I knew if I wore the same shirt, they’d win. But my family won’t sit near me, something about a smell. I’m not really sure what they mean.

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—Some people will say momentum in sports is not real, that there’s no evidence to back it up. Those people should watch this series.

—That amazing catch by Mookie Betts, and then Marcell Ozuna being called out for leaving third base early, changed the momentum of the series. The Dodgers went from lifeless on the bench to full of energy, while the Braves had some of the wind knocked out of them.

—Betts, like all great players, doesn’t let batting slumps hurt his defense. And he legged out an infield single and drove in a run. It won’t show up as a lot in the box score, but it was a lot.

—And then there’s Will Smith. He shows amazing strike zone judgement for such a young player, and it forced Atlanta’s Will Smith to come in with a pitch he could drive.

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—Do you still wish the Dodgers had traded Smith for one of the many players they could have gotten for him in the past?

—And Max Muncy showed why the Dodgers keep trotting him out there. That at-bat before Smith’s homer was special. He didn’t swing the bat once, and took a couple of pitches that were just barely off the plate in drawing a walk to set up the homer.

—This Corey Seager guy may have a future in this game.

—But how does he play hard for almost four hours without his hair getting even damp?

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—The Dodger bullpen has received heavy criticism from many people, including me. But in Game 4, they pitched seven innings, giving up only one run and four hits while striking out seven. If you are going to criticize them when they fail, you have to praise them when they succeed.

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—I had a good feeling about Game 5 because it was a bullpen game for the Braves. And, in a phrase that should be tattooed on your brain by now, the more pitchers you use in a game, the more likely you are to find a pitcher who doesn’t have his good stuff.

—Four of the five Atlanta relievers gave up runs.

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—Of course, it turned out the be a bullpen game for the Dodgers too, but only one Dodger reliever didn’t have his good stuff (I’m looking at you, Victor Gonzalez).

—The best part, for me, was watching Kenley Jansen strike out the side in the ninth. It was like the 2016 version of Jansen teleported into the game.

—My only fear is this makes Dave Roberts think Jansen should be the closer again.

Justin Turner seems out of sorts this series.

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Dustin May was too amped up. He had no idea where the ball was going.

—But, as we know from Game 3, the results don’t mean anything once Game 6 starts today.

—Reality check: The Dodgers have a tall task ahead of them still. They need to beat Max Fried in Game 6 and Ian Anderson in Game 7. Which means Dodger starters Walker Buehler and Tony Gonsolin will need to be in top form to match the Braves’ duo.

Joe Buck actually seemed to get excited over that Will Smith homer. I think it’s only because the ball almost hit that Camping World sign. Either that or he got mixed up and thought it was Atlanta’s Will Smith who hit it. (Yes, I like to pick on Joe Buck).

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—I signed up for that Camping World giveaway. Then I realized that I hate camping. Jim Gaffigan explains why here.

—Walker Buehler gets the ball today. No pressure.

—I stick with my prediction: Dodgers in seven.

NLCS numbers

How Dodgers hitters are faring in the NLCS:

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Kiké Hernández, .429, 3 for 7, 1 homer, 1 RBI

Corey Seager, .400, 8 for 20, 2 doubles, 4 homers, 7 runs scored, 10 RBIs

Joc Pederson, .333, 5 for 15, 1 homer, 3 RBIs

Justin Turner, .300, 6 for 20, 2 doubles, 4 runs scored

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AJ Pollock, .231, 3 for 13

Mookie Betts, .222, 4 for 18, 4 runs scored, 1 RBI

Edwin Ríos, .222, 2 for 9, 2 HR, 3 RBIs, 5 strikeouts

Max Muncy, .200, 3 for 15, 1 double, 2 homers, 6 RBIs, 8 walks

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Cody Bellinger, .150, 3 for 20, 1 triple, 1 homer, 3 RBIs, 9 strikeouts

Will Smith, .150, 3 for 20, 1 double, 1 homer, 5 RBIs, 7 strikeouts

Chris Taylor, .143, 2 for 14, 1 double, 7 strikeouts

Matt Beaty, 0 for 0, 1 walk

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Dodgers-Braves schedule

Here’s the NLCS schedule. The Dodgers will be the home team for Games 1, 2, 6 and 7. All times are Pacific. All game at Arlington, Texas.

Game 1: Atlanta 5, Dodgers 1

Game 2: Atlanta 8, Dodgers 7

Game 3: Dodgers 15, Atlanta 3

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Game 4: Atlanta 10, Dodgers 2

Game 5: Dodgers 7, Atlanta 3

Game 6: Today, 1:30 p.m., Atlanta (Max Fried) vs. Dodgers (Walker Buehler), FS1, AM 570

Game 7*: Sunday, 5:15 p.m., Atlanta (Ian Anderson) vs. Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin), Fox and FS1, AM 570

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*-If necessary

I include this because I think it is really cool. The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum this week showed off the first bobblehead to commemorate a Negro Leagues World Series. The bobblehead commemorates the 1942 Negro Leagues World Series and features Satchel Paige of the Kansas City Monarchs and Josh Gibson of the Homestead Grays, two of the greatest baseball players who ever lived. You can see the bobblehead by clicking here. I’ve already dropped extremely subtle hints to my family (like including this sentence in this newsletter) that I want this for Christmas.

In case you missed it

Dylan Hernández: Dodgers’ biggest swing of the series comes from the glove of Mookie Betts

Dustin May doesn’t provide Walker Buehler moment, but other Dodgers deliver win

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Photos: Dodgers defeat Braves in NLCS Game 5

And finally

Corey Seager homers twice to help Dodgers force Game 6. Watch it here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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