The Los Angeles Dodgers are again heading to the National League Championship Series. This time, they vanquished the Atlanta Braves in four games on the strength of Monday’s come-from-behind, 6-2, victory.
Here are 10 things to know about Game 4 and/or the NLDS.
1. Braves bad defense, Bellinger’s speed and Freese clutch in sixth
The inning should have been over. With two outs and a runner on first, Yasiel Puig hit a high pop fly into shallow right field. Neither second baseman Ozzie Albies — who appeared to let up, assuming he had been called off — or right fielder Nick Markakis got to the ball. Instead, it fell in and the Dodgers would end up scoring two to take the lead.
Earlier in the inning, Bellinger hit a rocket to second base and it could have been a double play. He flew down the line, though, and the Braves didn’t even attempt the throw to first after getting the force at second. Per Statcast, Bellinger is the fastest first baseman in baseball and is tied overall with Javier Baez among other positions.
Now with two on and two out, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts summoned David Freese to pinch hit. During the at-bat, Puig would easily steal second, meaning both the tying and go-ahead runs were in scoring position. Freese would come through in the clutch, delivering a line-drive single to center.
The Dodgers had the 3-2 lead.
2. Dodgers dropped the hammer in the seventh; Machado stars
Next inning, Justin Turner led off with a single and Max Muncy drew a four-pitch walk and it just felt like things were about to erupt. With how overworked the Braves’ not-so-deep bullpen was, it was only a matter of time before the Dodgers stepped on the gas. Sure enough, Manny Machado went deep to essentially put the game and series away:
Machado, the free-agent-to-be, went 2 for 5 with a double, home run and four RBI on the game. He only got three hits in the series, but all went for extra bases and drove home runs (2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI).
3. Snitker was aggressive with pitching again
In Game 3, Braves manager Brian Snitker was aggressive in removing pitchers, as one should be when dealing with an elimination situation. Obviously, trailing 2-1 in the best-of-five series, the Braves once again had their proverbial backs against the wall. Though Mike Foltynewicz was far from perfect, he was pitching fine, but his spot in the batting order came up with runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Snitker elected to pinch hit with Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki awarded him with the lead:
One could say that maybe Snitker stretched his bullpen too thin in Games 3 and 4, I suppose, but they needed those runs and he was managing to stay alive. I have no issue with it.
4. Madson bailed out defense in fifth
In the fifth inning, the Braves were gifted a golden opportunity by the Dodgers’ defense. With one out, Freddie Freeman reached on an infield single that could have very easily been ruled an error on Justin Turner. After Nick Markakis walk, Johan Camargo hit a double play ball to short, but Machado booted it. All of a sudden, the bases were loaded with one out.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts decided to pull Rich Hill and went to late-season acquisition Ryan Madson. With a heavy diet of sinkers, Madson got Tyler Flowers to foul out to the catcher and then Ender Inciarte to softly pop out to Machado to end the threat.
5. In-season additions come up huge
As noted, Andrew Friedman and company acquired Madson during the season. Take note of who drove in the runs in this game, too: Machado and Freese. Machado came about thanks to Corey Seager being out for the season and the the other two players are an example of how adding depth to the big-league roster can play huge in October.
6. Venters with a tough-luck loss
Jonny Venters is a great story. He’s back in the majors after three Tommy John surgeries and he hadn’t previously pitched in a season since 2012.
In this game, he came into the game in the top of the fifth to deal with the top of the Dodgers’ potent batting order. He got through one inning unscathed and should have been through two. See above regarding the sixth inning. It should have been two innings pitched with zero runs allowed for Venters. Instead, a reliever gave up his two runs and Venters is saddled with allowing two earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. As such, he took the loss.
7. Dodgers struck first
In general, the teams in the postseason that score first, tend to win. Sure, we’ll see comebacks and that’s what makes the sport great, but scoring first is a big deal. The Dodgers did it in Game 4 before the Braves even batted. Foltynewicz recorded the first two outs of the game, but then Muncy was walked on four pitches and Machado jumped on the first pitch for an RBI double. It happened so fast and it was already 1-0 Dodgers.
8. Duda nearly made it close
In the bottom of the eighth inning, pinch hitter Lucas Duda came to the plate with the Braves down by four runs. There were runners on first and third base. He absolutely crushed an offering from Kenta Maeda that could have been an upper deck home run, but it was several feet foul. Man, that would have been something. Instead, Duda would fly out.
9. MVP: Justin Turner
There aren’t official MVPs in the divisional series round, but we’ll go ahead and name one here for fun anyway. I’m going with Turner. I thought about Clayton Kershaw being so dazzling in Game 2 in a 3-0 win, too, so maybe consider him for a co-MVP. Hell, Hyun-Jin Ryu was nails on Game 1, too.
Turner hit .357/.500/.429 in the series. He walked four times without striking out. From that two-hole, with Muncy and Machado coming behind him, that just puts so much pressure on the opposing pitching staff.
10. Moving forward
This is surely a tough one to swallow for Braves fans, but the bottom line is this was an incredibly successful season. Nearly no one thought they’d contend this season, much less win the NL East, but they got it done. They have a strong foundation to build upon in Ronald Acuna, Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb and more. Get some distance from this series and Braves fans will look back on 2018 with great fondness.
On the Dodgers’ end, they’ll be playing in their third straight NLCS. They split the first two against the Cubs, but now it’s the Brewers. The Brewers will have an extra day of rest and a stellar bullpen. The Dodgers are firing on all cylinders right now themselves. Games 1 and 2 will be in Milwaukee’s Miller Park on Friday and Saturday.
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Source : https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/dodgers-vs-braves-score-game-4-recap-machado-homers-again-and-l-a-is-off-to-third-straight-nlcs/