Ozzie Albies blooped a one-out single into center, stole second base, and scored the game’s winning run after Austin Riley’s single to left field on Saturday, providing the Atlanta Braves with a 3-2 victory and an early 1-0 NLCS lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While the game seemingly didn’t have the do-or-die ferocity of Thursday evening’s NLCS final game early, the excitement increased as the game progressed. It wasn’t difficult to see the intensity with which both teams were playing throughout the affair.
The Braves got on the board in the first inning after Eddie Rosario singled to right, stole second base, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a Corey Knebel wild pitch, which could have conceivably been ruled as a passed ball.
The Dodgers struck back in the top of the second when AJ Pollock hit a two-out double to left field and later scored on a Chris Taylor single. In the top of the fourth, Los Angeles extended its lead to 3-1 when Will Smith hit a 416-foot solo shot to left field, his third of the postseason.
At that point, many fans of the Dodgers felt the momentum shifting towards their team, but Riley tied the game with one swing in the bottom of the fourth with a 381-foot blast over the left field wall.
Riley’s blast came off Tony Gonsolin, who was the Dodgers’ fourth pitcher of the evening in as many innings.
Besides Knebel’s wild pitch, or passed ball if you prefer, another huge error for the Dodgers came in the ninth after Taylor walked with two out. Cody Bellinger followed with a single to right, but Taylor overran second base, apparently unsure if he wanted to advance. It resulted in him getting tagged out and ending the Los Angeles threat.
Mookie Betts would have been the next batter.
Knebel opened the game for the Dodgers, and Los Angeles used a total of eight pitchers on the evening, including all their late-inning horses in Blake Treinen, Joe Kelly and Kenley Jansen.
Gonsolin threw 1-1/3 innings.
The Braves used four pitchers. Lefty starter Max Fried went six full innings.
The “other” Will Smith was credited with the win. Treinen, the final Los Angeles pitcher of the night, took the loss.
The Dodgers were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
Taylor and Trea Turner had two hits apiece for the Dodgers. Albies and Riley both had two hits for Atlanta. Freddie Freeman struck out four times.
Game 2 is set for a 7:38 p.m. Eastern start time on Sunday with Max Scherzer facing Atlanta righty Ian Anderson.
3 thoughts on “Braves Walk Off in NLCS Game 1”
The Braves had fewer hits but did everything else right. The Dodgers had more hits but made a couple of huge unforced errors which ultimately gave the Braves a run and possibly cost us a run. Result: Braves won a game we could have taken from them. Max had better be on his game tomorrow. We don’t want to go down 2-0.
Before the season ends, and it could end quickly, I’d like to comment about Kenley Jansen’s season. He was criticized severely here earlier in the season. It was obvious something was amiss. Some thought that with his age he was losing spin and movement on his cutter. I thought his increase in BB was due to trying to compensate by throwing harder. But despite those drawbacks he put together a fine season. He’s been near the best in MLB at limiting hard hit and exit velocity. A revealing stat for closers is shutdown versus meltdown outings. His ratio of those two this year has been better than any qualified reliever except for Hader, Rogers, and Loaisiga.
Because of criticism in LA, I think it’s likely he’ll chose to wear a different uniform next year. But he’s been able, despite increasing age, to make another productive year. In a bullpen with a rotating cast of new faces, perhaps he’s been invaluable.
Kenley has been pretty spectacular after that 3 game meltdown in July. I love the fact that he’s developed (and is using) some new pitches so that he’s not a cutter-only guy anymore.
With regard to his leaving, I personally think he’d rather stay, but that would take a few things happening:
1) He’d have to be assured he’d still be the closer
2) AF would have to want him back
3) AF would have to be willing to get close to matching any other offer.
Frankly I doubt all three things will happen and I expect him to leave, but I can’t believe I’m even writing this based on how he’s looked over the past few years. He has truly reinvented himself and deserves a huge amount of credit (and a decent amount of money) for doing that.