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Dodgers Dugout: Two tough losses in Atlanta, but the NLCS isn’t over yet

Kenley Jansen walks off the mound after giving up the game-winning hit in Game 2.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and now we turn our attention to the next step in the journey.

Game 1 thoughts

— The Dodgers looked tired in Game 1, like a team coming off a tough series and then having to fly cross-country. Wild pitch that should have been caught, bad baserunning, a step slow in the field. And yet Atlanta still barely beat them.

— I wondered both in Game 5 of the NLDS and in Game 1 here: If the score remained tied, who would have pitched in extra innings? There were guys in the bullpen, but, if the game went 15 innings, who would be the last man up?

— You have to wonder what Pete Rose thinks when he sees all those DraftKings betting commercials.

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— Why did Chris Taylor stop between second and third, a baserunning mistake that led to a key out in Game 1? ”It was just a bad read. I saw it barely got over [Ozzie] Albies’ head, and I thought I could get to third. I didn’t realize Joc [Pederson] had it that quick and tried to stop. I should have kept going. ... As I was rounding second, I saw him get the ball sooner than I anticipated and thought twice about not trying to get thrown out at third. And then he just threw back behind me.”

— One great thing about Taylor: He never makes excuses and doesn’t hide after he makes a mistake.

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Game 2 thoughts

— OK, I said this before the runs were given up, so it’s not really second-guessing. Bringing in Julio Urías in the eighth inning of Game 2 was a mistake. The Dodgers won 106 games this season by relying on Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen pitching the eighth and ninth innings. All season long, except for a week or two in July, that worked beautifully. Why change things now?

— Add in the fact that Urías had a lot of trouble in first innings all season, giving up seven doubles, five homers and 12 walks, good for an opponents’ .303 OB% and .417 SLG%.

— “Hey, we won 106 games using our bullpen one way. Let’s change how we do it now that the games are extra meaningful,” said no one ever.

— Then again, didn’t hear much complaining when the Dodgers brought in Max Scherzer to close out the series against the Giants.

— Why Urías instead of bringing Treinen back out after throwing only nine pitches in the seventh inning? “He hadn’t thrown a bullpen, and he was the best option at that point in time,” Dave Roberts of Ur´ias said after the game. “He was prepared for it. It was a perfect spot for him, and getting him through that eighth to go to Kenley to finish the game.”

— Roberts also said, “I think in the eighth inning to look at it as the leverage that it was, Julio in my opinion was the best option we had.”

— On Monday, Roberts said: “Different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. A decision that doesn’t work out doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision. Everyone in that clubhouse believes we’re going about it the right way. I believe we’re going to win this series.”

— And because he pitched in Game 2, Urías might not be able to start Game 4 as originally planned. He might be pushed back to Game 5, with Game 4 becoming a bullpen game. Either way, Game 4 or Game 5 will be a bullpen game, with, if necessary, Game 6 started by Scherzer and Game 7 by Walker Buehler.

— But a lot of little things led to the Game 2 loss, not just one bullpen decision. Stranding runners everywhere. Poor defense (Corey Seager needs to stop that ball).

— Also, what kind of arm does Steven Souza Jr. have? He threw a 28-hopper to home plate when any kind of decent throw would have cut down the runner at the plate in the eighth inning.

— And what’s the deal with taking Scherzer out in the fifth inning when he just struck out a guy? That messed up the bullpen the rest of the way. Instead of using Alex Vesia to face left-handers late, they used him early. If Roberts was worried about taxing Scherzer because he pitched Game 5 against the Giants, then he should have done this: Start Buehler in Game 2 on his normal rest, then go with Scherzer in Game 3.

— “I would just say my arm was dead,” Scherzer said. “I could tell when I was warming up that it was still tired.” All the more reason to start Buehler (again, with his regular amount of rest) instead of Scherzer. Seems they could have figured out his arm was dead sometime previous to right before the game starts.

— If you come up with a runner on third and less than two out, you don’t have to try to hit a home run.

— Man, it would be nice to have a guy who excels in October like Pederson. Oh, wait . . .

— Dodgers with runners in scoring position in the NLCS: two for 18.

Chris Taylor, 2 for 3
AJ Pollock, 0 for 3
Cody Bellinger, 0 for 2
Gavin Lux, 0 for 2
Albert Pujols, 0 for 2
Trea Turner, 0 for 2
Mookie Betts, 0 for 1
Corey Seager, 0 for 1
Steven Souza Jr., 0 for 1
Justin Turner, 0 for 1

— “Not very good,” Roberts said about the team’s approach with runners in scoring position. “I don’t need numbers to know what I see. And if we’re going to chase, then there’s no reason for them to throw the ball in the strike zone. So I think that we’ve got to kind of lock in more in the strike zone, and when we do that we’ll have more success.”

— In 36 career postseason games, Trea Turner is hitting .220/.267/.291 with one homer. In 58 postseason games, Seager is hitting .244/.325/.470 with 13 homers. One of the two is the Dodgers’ shortstop of the future.

— If you had told me Freddie Freeman would be 0 for 8 with seven strikeouts, I’d say the Dodgers would be up 2-0.

— Losses don’t bother me as long as the loss isn’t caused by sloppy mistakes. The Dodgers basically gave Game 1 and Game 2 away. With all due respect to Atlanta, which has a fine team, the Dodgers are the better team.

— And tip your cap to the Braves for taking advantage of what the Dodgers gave them. The Dodgers open the door, but the Braves still have to walk through it, and they have.

— So yes, the first two losses were quite frustrating.

— However, let’s check our notes to find out the last time a team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win an LCS. Let’s see, wow, we have to go way back to ... 2020. In the NLCS, a team called the Dodgers fell behind 2-0 to a team called the Atlanta Braves. They came back to win that series.

— So, all is not lost. But if the Dodgers don’t tighten things up a bit defensively and don’t stop overthinking, it will be a long offseason.

My prediction remains: Dodgers in six.

Other random thoughts

— The fans behind home plate in Atlanta are worse than the fans behind home plate at Dodger Stadium. And it looks like they are sitting in comfy recliners. I’m not sure they aren’t all reused cardboard cutouts from last season.

— Do they have to play that Clayton Kershaw tire commercial during every ad break? I’ve seen more of Kershaw this postseason than the last three postseasons combined, and he’s not even playing this year.

— Any commercial with a Muppet in it is automatically twice as good as it would have been otherwise. The “There’s an Animal in our attic” commercial is hilarious.

— How boring does a guy have to be for a girl to leave him on a moonlit beach to go get Taco Bell?

— Liberty Mutual ads with the LiMu emu (and Doug) are better than the ones without them.

— “Hey, Dad, what is this erectile dysfunction they are talking about in this ad?” is not a conversation you want to have with your young daughter in the middle of a playoff game.

— I miss the pregame team introductions and the singing of the national anthem. Would it kill TBS (or any other network) to show those things?

Dodgers in the postseason

How the Dodgers are doing in the 2021 postseason

Batters
Mookie Betts, .387 (12 for 31, 1 homer, 4 RBIs)
Will Smith, .296 (8 for 27, 2 doubles, 3 homers, 4 RBIs)
Cody Bellinger, .286 (6 for 21, 1 double, 3 RBIs)
Chris Taylor, .286 (6 for 21, 3 doubles, 1 homer, 6 RBIs)
Gavin Lux, .250 (3 for 12)
Albert Pujols, .222 (2 for 9)
Corey Seager, .219 (7 for 32, 3 doubles, 1 homer, 4 RBIs)
Steven Souza Jr., .200 (1 for 5)
Trea Turner, .200 (7 for 35, 2 doubles, 1 RBI)
AJ Pollock, .182 (4 for 22, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs)
Matt Beaty, .125 (1 for 8)
Justin Turner, .107 (3 for 28, 1 homer, 1 RBI)
Austin Barnes, .000 (0 for 2)
Luke Raley, .000 (0 for 1)
Billy McKinney, .000 (0 for 1)
Team, .233 (62 for 266, 13 doubles, 7 homers, 27 runs)

Pitchers
Kenley Jansen, 4.0 IP, 2 hits, 0 walks, 9 K’s, 2-0, 0.00 ERA
Phil Bickford, 3.2 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 3 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Justin Bruihl, 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 walks, 2 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Brusdar Graterol, 5.1 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 0 walks, 3 K’s, 0-1, 1.69 ERA
Joe Kelly, 4.1 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, 4 K’s, 1-0, 2.08 ERA
Max Scherzer, 16.2 IP, 10 hits, 4 ER, 5 walks, 23 K’s, 0-1, 1 save, 2.16 ERA
Corey Knebel, 3.1 IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 0 walks, 6 K’s, 2.70 ERA
Blake Treinen, 6.1 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 2 walks, 7 K’s, 0-1, 2.84 ERA
Alex Vesia, 3 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 0 walks, 6 K’s, 3.00 ERA
Walker Buehler, 10.2 IP, 9 hits, 4 ER, 3 walks, 9 K’s, 0-1, 3.38 ERA
Julio Urías, 10 IP, 9 hits, 4 ER, 1 walk, 12 K’s, 1-0, 3.60 ERA
Tony Gonsolin, 1.2 IP, 2 hits, 1 ER, 0 walks, 1 K, 5.40 ERA
Team, 70 IP, 50 hits, 19 ER, 12 walks, 85 K’s, 2.44 ERA

How the Braves are doing in the 2021 postseason

Batters
Eddie Rosario, .409 (9 for 22, 3 RBIs)
Austin Riley, .364 (8 for 22, 1 double, 2 homers, 4 RBIs)
Joc Pederson, .357 (5 for 14, 3 homers, 7 RBIs)
Ozzie Albies, .280 (7 for 25, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs)
Adam Duvall, .250 (5 for 20, 1 triple)
Freddie Freeman, .190 (4 for 21, 1 double, 1 homer, 2 RBIs)
Dansby Swanson, .182 (4 for 22, 1 double)
Travis d'Arnaud, .167 (3 for 18, 1 RBI)
Jorge Soler, .091 (1 for 11, 1 double)
Ehire Adrianza, .000 (0 for 4)
Guillermo Heredia, .000 (0 for 3)
Orlando Arcia, .000 (0 for 2)
William Contreras, .000 (0 for 1)
Johan Camargo, .000 (0 for 1)
Team. .237 (46 for 194, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 6 homers, 20 runs scored)

Pitchers
Will Smith, 5 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 5 K’s, 2-0, 3 saves, 0.00 ERA
Luke Jackson, 4.2 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 5 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Jesse Chavez, 2.2 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 K’s, 0.00 ERA
A.J. Minter, 2.1 IP, 0 hits, 2 walks, 4 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Chris Martin, 1 IP, 0 hits, 0 walks, 0 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Jacob Webb, 0.2 IP, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 K, 0.00 ERA
Max Fried, 12 IP, 11 hits, 2 ER, 0 walks, 14 K’s, 1-0, 1.50 ERA
Ian Anderson, 8 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 3 walks, 8 K’s, 1-0, 2.25 ERA
Tyler Matzek, 6.1 IP, 4 hits, 2 ER, 4 walks, 10 K’s, 1-0, 2.84 ERA
Charlie Morton, 9.1 IP, 7 hits, 4 ER, 2 walks, 14 K’s, 0-1, 3.86 ERA
Huascar Ynoa, 1 IP, 2 hits, 2 ER, 1 walk, 2 K’s, 18.00 ERA
Team, 53 IP, 38 hits, 12 ER, 19 walks, 65 K’s, 2.04 ERA

NLCS schedule

Game 1: at Atlanta 3, Dodgers 2
Game 2: at Atlanta 5, Dodgers 4

Game 3: Today, Atlanta (Charlie Morton, 14-6, 3.34 ERA) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 16-4, 2.47), 2 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio

Game 4: Wed., Atlanta (TBD) at Dodgers (**Julio Urías, 20-3, 2.96 ERA or bullpen game), 5 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio

Game 5*: Thursday, Atlanta (TBD) at Dodgers (**Julio Urías, 20-3, 2.96 ERA or bullpen game), 5 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio

Game 6*: Saturday, Dodgers (Max Scherzer, 15-4, 2.46 ERA) at Atlanta (TBD), 2 p.m. PT if ALCS is still playing, 5 p.m. PT if not, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio

Game 7*: Sunday, Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 16-4, 2.47 ERA) at Atlanta (TBD), 4:30 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio

*-if necessary
**-left-handed

In case you missed it

Plaschke: What were they thinking? Massive brain cramp dooms Dodgers in NLCS Game 2

Hernández: Dodgers can still beat the Braves if Andrew Friedman and Co. stop overthinking

Five things the Dodgers need to climb out of 2-0 hole against Braves in NLCS

Dodgers channeling their inner Dave Roberts with aggressive NLCS baserunning

Dodgers’ World Series aspirations in peril after another walk-off loss to Braves

And finally

Vin Scully is the star at the 2014 Dodgers home opener. Watch and listen 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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