Big Sixth Inning Propels Braves To Game Four Victory Over Dodgers

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Braves 10, Dodgers 2

The Atlanta Braves used a six-run sixth inning and a strong pitching performance from rookie Bryse Wilson to take a 3-1 series lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night. The Braves bounced-back in a big way after a lopsided 15-3 loss the night before. As a result, the Dodgers season is now on the line, and the Braves are just one win away from their first trip to the World Series in 21 years.

Wilson Impresses in Postseason Debut

Coming into the game, the pitching matchup of Clayton Kershaw versus Bryse Wilson appeared to be the biggest mismatch of the 2020 postseason. However, Wilson was locked in from the start of the game — outdueling Kershaw and shutting down a potent Dodgers lineup. The 22-year-old gave up just one run over six innings in his postseason debut. The only blemish was a solo shot from Dodgers designated hitter Edwin Rios in the third inning. Wilson became the second rookie pitcher in MLB history to start his postseason debut and allow no more than one hit in at least six innings.

“Wow, that’s about all I can say,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Are you kidding me? That kid stepped up. How he would handle the situation, I guess he answered that.”

Atlanta needed Wilson to eat some innings after Game Three starter Kyle Wright only recorded two outs. Also, considering that the Braves are going to employ a bullpen game in Game Five, Wilson’s outing saved Snitker’s key relievers for Friday’s potential clincher.

Braves Break the Game Open in Sixth Inning

Through the first five innings, Kershaw was in control. The only run Atlanta had managed to push across was a solo blast from designated hitter Marcell Ozuna. However, the dam broke in the sixth inning. With the game tied 1-1, center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error from second baseman Kiké Hernández. First baseman Freddie Freeman stepped up to the plate and delivered with a double to deep right to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead. Then, Kershaw hung a 3-2 curveball to Ozuna, which he smoked to left-center to push the lead to 3-1. With Kershaw now out of the game, the Braves scored four more times, courtesy of a two-run double from shortstop Dansby Swanson, an RBI single from third baseman Austin Riley, and an RBI single from young center fielder Cristian Pache.

“They’re similar to us as far as they build on momentum really well,” Kershaw said after picking up his first career loss against the Braves. “It just seems like they have that domino effect when one thing gets going, and they’ve got great hitters, too. They’re a good team.”

Atlanta’s Bullpen Closes the Door

With a six-run lead, the Braves needed nine outs from their relievers. However, things got off to a shaky start in the seventh, as Braves left-handed reliever Will Smith loaded the bases with one out. Snitker then called upon right-hander Chris Martin. Martin gave up a sacrifice fly to Rios and walked pinch-hitter Matt Beaty to once again load the bases, but escaped the jam when he got Dodgers catcher Will Smith to line out to second baseman Ozzie Albies. Both Tyler Matzek and Shane Greene went on to pitch scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth to close the game out and keep the Dodgers lineup at bay.

Swirling Wind Becomes a Topic of Discussion

One of the more interesting storylines in Game Four was the decision to leave the roof open at Globe Life Field. The swirling wind played a factor in the field, but also at the plate. Players like Max Muncy, Freeman, Acuña Jr., and even home plate umpire Cory Blaser appeared to have trouble seeing the ball at times.

Although Major League Baseball received some backlash for not closing the roof, the league plans to keep the roof open unless there is a threat of rain. This decision stems from the recommendations of health and safety experts who advise keeping the roof open to maximize ventilation and curb the potential spread of the airborne coronavirus.

Next Up

With his team on the brink of elimination, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will send talented rookie right-hander Dustin May (3-1, 2.57 ERA; 2020 postseason 1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound. Atlanta will employ a bullpen game, with Josh Tomlin (2-2, 4.76 ERA; 2020 postseason 0-0, 40.50 ERA) getting his first 2020 postseason start. First pitch is scheduled for 9:08 p.m. Eastern and will be televised on FS1.

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