Dodgers 15, Braves 3
NLCS Game Three
When the Los Angeles Dodgers made a strong late-inning rally in Game Two of the 2020 NLCS, it was not enough to win the game. However, it gave them some positives as they moved forward. They rode those positives in Game Three, scoring a postseason-record 11 runs in the first inning en route to a 15-3 dismantling of the Atlanta Braves Wednesday evening in Arlington, Texas. Braves starter Kyle Wright did not survive the first inning while Dodgers starter Julio Urias pitched five strong innings to give the Dodgers their first victory of the best-of-seven series.
The Record-Breaking First Inning
The record-breaking first inning started with a close play at first base. Right fielder Mookie Betts hit a bouncer down the third-base line. Johan Camargo, on the run to his right, speared it and made the long throw across the diamond. First baseman Freddie Freeman made a tough play, putting his right foot on the bag as he stretched into foul ground with his left. He caught the ball while avoiding collision with the hustling Betts and injury to both parties.
First-base umpire Dan Iassogna called Betts out, but replay overturned it. Shortstop Corey Seager crushed the very next pitch, lacing a double to the wall in left-center. Braves left fielder Austin Riley, sprinting toward the wall, lost his footing as he fielded the ball. He slid on his stomach, negating any chance he had to throw out Betts, who scored easily from first. After a grounder to third by designated hitter Justin Turner and grounder to second by first baseman Max Muncy netted two outs, catcher Will Smith doubled to left-center. This scored Seager, who had advanced to third on the Muncy groundout. Center fielder Cody Bellinger walked, bringing up left fielder Joc Pederson. On 2-1, he scorched a slider into the Braves bullpen past left-center for a three-run home run, making the score 5-0.
Dodgers Light Up New Braves Pitcher, Too
The Dodgers were just getting started. Third baseman Edwin Rios crushed the very next pitch, hitting the “Camping World” sign above the fence in dead center. 6-0. Second baseman Chris Taylor walked, knocking Wright out of the game after he had only retired two out of nine batters. Grant Dayton took the hill and walked the first batter he faced, Betts. Seager followed with a single, scoring Taylor and advancing Betts to third. 7-0. Turner came up next. A pitch in the dirt got past catcher Travis d’Arnaud, apparently scoring Betts and advancing Seager to third. However, the Braves claimed that the pitch hit Turner, so they challenged.
In the replay, Turner lifted his foot. Some claimed that he was trying to avoid the pitch; others claimed that he kicked the ball. Had the umpire ruled an intentional kick, it would have made the pitch a ball, sent all runners back to where they were at the time of the pitch, and kept Turner at the plate. However, he ruled that it was inadvertent, meaning that Turner got first base while the runners returned. This loaded the bases for Muncy, who ripped a 3-2 fastball over the wall in right-center for a grand slam. Smith, up next, ended the half-inning by looking at a called third strike. After sending 14 men to the plate, the Dodgers led, 11-0, an all-time postseason record for runs in an inning.
More Runs in Second and Third
The first two Braves batters in the bottom of the first – right fielder Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Freeman – walked, putting them in a good position to chip away at the huge early deficit. Two batters later, with two out, second baseman Ozzie Albies lined an 0-1 changeup to dead center. Bellinger tracked it to the wall and made a leaping grab to rob Albies of a three-run homer and end the inning.
It was the second time in the postseason that Bellinger made a home run-saving catch. He led off the bottom of the inning and, seeming to ride the momentum of his catch, homered to right, extending the lead to 12-0. No other Dodgers reached base in the second, and Urias pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning. In the third, after Betts lead off with a foul popup to first, Seager homered, putting him a triple shy of the cycle. Turner and Muncy followed with a single and double, respectively, to put runners on second and third for Smith. His grounder to short plated Turner. Bellinger followed with a single to bring Muncy home, making the score 15-0. When Pederson followed with a single to put runners on first and second, Huascar Ynoa took over for Dayton. He stopped the bleeding by striking out Rios for the third out.
Dodgers Finish Scoring, Braves Avoid Shutout
Braves center fielder Cristian Pache kept the game from being a shutout when he led off the bottom of the third with a tall home run down the left-field line. It was one of only three hits that the Braves managed off Urias. Dodgers relievers Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez, and Alex Wood pitched perfect innings in the sixth, seventh, and eighth. Meanwhile, the Dodgers had 10 baserunners between the fourth and ninth, but none scored. This sent the game to the bottom of the ninth with the score 15-1.
Adam Kolarek, who has struggled in the 2020 postseason, took the mound in the bottom of the ninth. A single by reserve catcher Tyler Flowers and double by Albies put runners on second and third with no outs for shortstop Dansby Swanson, who struck out looking. Riley followed with an RBI groundout to second, making the score 15-2. Camargo, up next, doubled, scoring Albies. Pache then grounded to first with the pitcher covering, giving the Dodgers the 15-3 victory.
Urias (3-0, 3.27 ERA, 45 K; 2020 postseason 3-0, 0.69 ERA, 16 K) earned the win while Wright (2-4, 5.21 ERA, 30 K; 2020 postseason 1-1, 9.45 ERA, 7 K) took the loss. Game Four is Thursday night at 8:08 Eastern/5:08 Pacific. Lefty Clayton Kershaw – scratched from a Game Two start due to back spasms – will start for the Dodgers. He was 6-2 in the regular season with a 2.16 ERA and 62 strikeouts; in the 2020 postseason, he is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 19 strikeouts. Bryse Wilson (1-0, 4.02 ERA, 15 K) will start for the Braves. It will be his postseason debut.
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