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HOMER: Dodgers slugger Max Muncy capped off a record-breaking first inning with a grand slam home run in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. The best-of-seven series is being played in front of about 10,000 in-person fans at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Tex.

DODGETOBER

In Arlington, Tex., Dodgers start the third round of MLB post-season with high hopes and live fans

October 15, 2020

The road to the National League Championship Series was not the hardest road for either the Atlanta Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both teams were undefeated going into this third round of the playoffs.  

Because of Covid, it’s been a baseball season like none other, and the World Series may not end until just before Halloween. The Boiling Point will follow all the games where the Dodgers compete.  Welcome to Dodgetober! 


Game 7: The Los Angeles Dodgers move on to the World Series for the third time in four years

Oct: 19: Game 7 between the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers was all about different types of comebacks. 

The Dodgers named their starter for Game 7 very late yesterday and their decision made history, pitching rookie star Dustin May against the Braves’ Ian Anderson. It was the first time that two first-year MLB pitchers faced off against each other in a winner-take-all Game 7 postseason matchup. 

Let’s just say the rookie May did not do so well in his first-ever Game 7 appearance. He walked the first two batters who he faced and the third batter, Marcell Ozuna, singled in Ronald Acuna Jr. to score the first run of the ballgame. 

After that, May was able to get a double play followed by a strikeout to get out of the first inning. He was relieved in the second by Tony Gonsolin.

In the top of the second, the Braves kept scoring. Dansby Swanson, a former first-overall draft pick, hit a home run to put the Braves up 2-0. Gonsolin was able to get six straight outs following that run. 

Anderson, who may have been the hottest pitcher in baseball before this game, came into the third inning without having given up a run this entire postseason. He got two quick outs, but then things took a turn for him. 

He walked Justin Turner, and gave up a double to Max Muncy. This advanced Turner to third base. Will Smith then singled up the middle scoring Turner, and the third-base coach waved Muncy, who was running from second base, to try to score. The throw was just a little late and Muncy slid into home and tied up the game. 

Gonsolin started off the top of the 4th by giving up two walks. The following at-bat he gave up a single that scored the runner from second, making the score 2-1 Braves. The Dodgers’ Blake Treinen then was put into the game to get the Dodgers out of this situation. 

After a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third, a crazy play happened. Nick Markakis grounded the ball to Turner, who threw the ball to the catcher Smith to get the runner into a rundown. Smith threw the ball back to Turner, who dove at Dansby Swanson, the runner on third base, to get him out. Holding onto the ball, turner then threw it across the diamond to Corey Seager, the shortstop, who tagged out the Braves runner TK Riley, who was trying to advance to the next base. 

This play changed the inning completely and perhaps the game as well Without it multiple runs might have scored, changing the momentum — which instead swung quickly in the Dodgers’ favor.   L.A. went from no outs and two on to two outs with a runner on first so quickly. They were able to take two runners out of scoring position. Treinen was able to get a ground ball from the following batter to end the inning.  

The next time the Braves were up, the Dodgers made another amazing defensive play. Freddie Freeman hit a ball that caused outfielder Mookie Betts to run to the wall. Betts jumped up and caught the ball right as it went over the wall. A home run robbery. This was Betts’ third straight game having a run-saving catch. 

A few innings later at the top of the 6th, Dodger manager Dave Roberts made a surprising move. He took out Joc Pederson, who had a .389 batting average this series, for Enrique Hernandez, who was also having a good series with an average of .308. Hernandez hit a long home run to tie up the game 3-3. 

The following inning for the Dodgers was another good one. In the top half of the 7th inning, Julio Urias saw three batters and got all three out. This was the start of a dominating performance for him. 

In the bottom half of the same inning, the first two batters struck out. This was where the magic happened. With two strikes in the count, Cody Bellinger hit a home run to put the Dodgers up. Bellinger watched the ball leave his bat and go into the stands before he started to run. He then threw his bat and rounded the bases. 

Urias, who got three outs right before the Bellinger home run, continued to shut down the Braves lineup. He recorded nine straight outs as the Dodgers closed out Game 7 — and the National League Championship Series — with a victory.  The final score was 4-3.

The Dodgers came back from a 3-1 deficit in the series, and came back in Game 7 from being down 2-0 and then 3-2. They are now the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit since the 2016 Chicago Cubs. 

Now the Dodgers will face the best team from the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays, in the World Series, which starts tomorrow, Oct. 20 at 5:09 p.m. Pacific Time.  The Rays, with the lowest payroll in baseball, have a top rotation and a top bullpen with a potent lineup. 

Only a few years after the gut-wrenching defeats to the Houston Astros in 2017 and the Boston Red Sox in 2018, the Dodgers have won another opportunity to become champions for the first time since 1988. Whether the next series repeats past losses or Los Angeles finally clinches the World Series, only time will tell. Until then, Dodger fans across the nation still have the chance to hope for the ultimate comeback. 

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Game 6: Dodgers force Game 7 as Corey Seager breaks an LCS record 

Oct. 18: The Los Angeles Dodgers came out swinging to start Game 6 and the Braves were never able to recover.

In a must-win game today for L.A. at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, the Dodgers — trailing 3-2 in the seven-game series — started strong and never faltered. The game was played on Shabbat but there were plenty of highlights posted online for Dodgetober fans to view.

Corey Seager started the scoring with his fifth home run in the NLCS, setting a new record: Seager became the first player in baseball history to hit five home runs in any League Championship Series. 

On the very next play, Justin Turner followed Seager by hitting a home run of his own, making the score 2-0. The Dodgers did not stop there: Cody Bellinger was able to singled in a run for Max Muncy. The Braves’ Max Fried, who had pitched spectacularly all year, did not have a good start to this ballgame as the score was 3-0 after one inning. 

From then on, the game became all about pitching. Inning after inning went by without any runs being scored. The Dodgers’ Walker Buehler pitched fantastically with velocity and location. There is no better pitch in baseball than a well located fastball, and since he had command with his fastball, he was able to pitch his way to victory.

Fried was also able to keep the runs contained aside from the first inning. He allowed many base runners, but did not allow any runs to score.

But Buehler didn’t allow any runs at all through his six-inning performance Saturday afternoon. He also did not allow any walks. This is the outing that the Dodgers needed from Buehler, and he delivered. 

After Buehler was pulled, the Dodgers put Blake Treinein into the game and the Braves got something started with one out in the top of the 7th inning. Nick Markakis, a baseball veteran, hit a triple, and Ronald Acuna Jr. hit a double allowing Markakis to score, making the game 3-1. 

With the Braves’ best player up, Freddie Freeman, it seemed as if the Dodgers were in a bad situation. But Freeman struck out and the next batter flew out to Mookie Betts to end the inning. This score stayed the same until the end of the game. 

The Dodgers forced a Game 7, which will be played at 5:15 p.m. Pacific time on Sunday, Oct. 18.

The Braves will be pitching Ian Anderson, who may be the best pitcher this postseason. Anderson has not allowed a run in any of his starts and is 2-0 with 22 strikeouts. 

The Dodgers have not named a starter, but if they use the pitcher who faced Anderson in Game 2, it will be Tony Gonsolin. I believe that the Dodgers should start Gonsolin and let him only go three innings. Gonsolin is on four days rest, the average rest days for pitchers, so he should be a strong pitcher for three innings. After that, they should then rely on their bullpen to finish the game. 

Whoever wins will face the Tampa Bay Rays, who were able to beat the Houston Astros in seven games in the ALCS, ending this night. The Rays were able to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Yankees ( sadly, as I am a Yankee fan), and now the Astros. This World Series will be a tough matchup for either the Braves or the Dodgers. 

Whatever happens, it is nice to know that Dodgetober fans will be able to watch the last game of this series. Fans entered Shabbat thinking it would be over by the time Havdalah ended — now they are excited, nervous, and hoping that the Dodgers can stay strong for one more game and beyond.

Game 5 — Dodgers stay alive as they win 7-3

It was Friday night and most Dodgetober readers didn’t see it, but the Los Angeles Dodgers, facing elimination, were able to bat their way to another game last night as they piled runs onto the Atlanta Braves. 

A post-Havdalah review of highlights, along with chats with fans who had watched the game live, described a game that started one way and then changed when Mookie Betts caught a fly ball in the bottom of the third inning and then threw it home. 

After a sacrifice fly by Travis d’Arnaud in the 1st inning scored the MVP candidate, Freddie Freeman, the Braves added another run in the second inning by a Christian Pache to score Dansby Swanson. 

But at the bottom of the 3rd inning, the game completely shifted from Braves to Dodgers.

With Braves runners on 2nd and 3rd base and one out, Swanson hit a blooper to right field — that looked from the viewer’s eye as if it would drop for a hit — which was caught by Betts right before the ball hit the ground. 

Right when the ball was caught, Marcell Ozuna, the runner on 3rd, tried to tag-up and score a run for the Braves. Fresh from his catch in the outfield, Betts threw the ball home and missed the runner by one foot, and the score was 3 – 0, Braves. But at the Dodgers’ request, the play was reviewed. It turned out that Ozuna left 3rd base early — before the fly ball was caught — which resulted in his Ozuna being out instead of scoring — and the score reverted back to 2 – 0.  The inning was then over and the Dodgers went up to bat in the top of the 4th. 

The lead-off hitter for the Dodgers, Corey Seager, hit a home run that barely got over the center fielder’s glove as it went over the wall. This made the game 2-1, but caused momentum to switch for the Dodgers.

The score stayed this way until the Dodgers added more runs to their total in the top of the 6th. With Justin Turner on 2nd base, the Braves put in reliever Will Smith — same name as Dodger catcher Will Smith. The Braves’ Will Smith walked his first batter, and now the Dodgers’ Will Smith. This marked the first time in MLB history that the pitcher and batter had the same name. 

The Dodger Smith then hit a three-run home run to give his team the lead, making the score 4-2. 

The Dodgers continued this momentum into the 7th inning. After two quick outs, Chris Taylor smacked a double to start a rally. Betts then hit a double to score Taylor from second, which made the score 5-2. In the next at-bat, Seager hit his second home run this game  to score both himself and Betts. This made the score 7-2.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Braves were able to score one more run as Freeman doubled and d’Arnaud scored him on a ground-out. This made the final score of the game 7-3 as Kenley Jansen came into the game to close it out. 

The Dodgers stay alive and force another game as they attempt to make the World Series. They capitalized on their opportunities and were able to score seven runs.

 Game 6 was set for Shabbat afternoon, with the Dodgers facing the Braves’ Max Fried, who pitched a stellar game 1. The Dodgers pitched Walker Buehler, hoping to force a Game 7 that would happen — lucky for readers of this website — on Sunday. 


GAME 4 — Dodgers fall apart as they lose to the Braves 10-2

It looked good at first, as Clayton Kershaw was shutting down the Atlanta Braves lineup and Edwin Rios hit a home run to make the game 1-0 entering the bottom of the 4th. 

Marcel Ozuna then walked to the plate and hit a home run off of Kershaw to tie up the game 1-1. 

Kershaw, coming off his two best postseason starts in a while, had command over his pitches right up to the beginning of the 6th inning. At that point, the Braves started to gain complete control over the game. 

Clayton Kershaw gave up three straight hits in the bottom of the 6th and allowed three of those hits to score. Dave Roberts proceeded to take his star out and replace him with Brusdar Graterol.  

But the Braves had already scored enough runs to take control of the best-of-seven series, three games to one.

Graterol is a confusing pitcher to figure out. He looks as if he throws with no effort, yet he throws 100 miles per hour with movement and location. When he doesn’t use his fastball, he uses his wipeout slider to get hitters out. He came into the game with one man on base and no outs.

He was able to get one out, while giving up three hits and three runs in his short appearance on the mound. They replaced him with Victory Gonzalez to record the last two outs. He accomplished that, and got the Dodgers out of that inning. 

The next half-inning, the top of the 7th, started off well for the Dodgers as Justin Turner finished off a phenomenal at-bat with a single up the middle of the field. Max Muncy followed that with a 4 pitch walk. 

With two runners on, in a must-score situation, AJ Pollock pinch-hit for Joc Pederson and had another great at-bat. He hit a ball that looked as if it would be a three-run homer, which would have made the game very close.

  But the wind blew the ball back into the ballpark — or so it seemed at least to this TV viewer, who had been watching the windy stadium all night — and Ronald Acuna Jr. was able to make the catch. 

By the end of the 7th inning, the Dodgers were able to score off a Rios sacrifice fly to score Turner. Unfortunately, the Dodgers left multiple people in scoring position to end the inning with the score 7-2. 

In the bottom half of the same inning, Ozuna hit his second home run of his game to make the score 8-2. Over the course of the next two innings, the Braves were able to add two more runs off Dylan Floro to their total score. This made the final score of the game 10-2 and put the Dodgers down in the series 3-1.

This is a big blow for the Dodgers. Statistically speaking, there is only a one-in-nine chance for the Dodgers to come back from this lead. The most recent were the Chicago Cubs, who came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series against the Cleveland Indians in 2016. 

The Dodgers have a must-win game tomorrow at 6:08 p.m. Pacific time led by pitcher Dustin May, a rookie who had a fantastic year. The Braves have a chance to close out the series tomorrow and go on to the World Series, but have not yet their starter. If the Dodgers do not win tomorrow they will be eliminated from the playoffs. 


GAME 3 — Radical turnaround: Dodgers win 15 – 3

Oct. 14: The best way to describe the start of this game is with one word: WOW! The Los Angeles Dodgers, after two straight losses, scored a record-breaking 11 runs in the top of the first inning. 

Kyle Wright, the Atlanta Braves’ Game 3 starter, had pitched a shutout in his first playoff appearance this year, on Oct. 8 against the Miami Marlins as they played in Houston. He wasn’t able to do the same this time around. 

Instead, Wright was only able to get two outs while facing every single Dodgers hitter once. He gave up seven runs on five hits and two walks. The Dodgers didn’t stop there, scoring four more runs that inning off a Max Muncy grand slam for his second home run in his second straight plate appearance. 

In that first inning, the Dodgers set a new record. The 1929 Philadelphia Athletics and the 2019 St. Louis Cardinals held the previous record, having 10 runs in an inning, but the Dodgers were able to score 11.

And the Dodgers, as it turned out, were just getting started. They scored another run on a very far home run by Cody Bellinger in the next inning. Then in the following inning, they scored three more runs on a Corey Seager homer and two more RBIs. 

The Braves were able to score one run on Cristian Pache’s first-ever postseason home run. This did not help that much as the Braves were still down 14 after the third inning.

Julio Urias, the Dodgers’ starter, was pulled out of the game with a high pitch count after five strong innings. He let up one run off three hits and two walks while striking out five. This was a great performance as the Dodgers needed to win this game. 

The Dodgers proceeded to bring in Kenley Jansen. Jansen had his worst year ever this year and the Dodgers manager said that Jansen will no longer be the Dodgers definite closer like he’s been in years past.

Jansen, however, was able to complete his inning in only 10 pitches and pitched fairly well with control. He was replaced by Pedro Baez who was also able to pitch a 1-2-3 inning. 

Surprisingly, after what must have been the most offensive start to a game all year, the contest shifted completely to pitching. There were only two hits hit by both teams from then until the end — quite a change from the action-filled start.  With just a few walks by Braves after the 3rd inning, both teams had pitched fairly well after all those runs were scored. 

The Braves scored two more runs in the bottom of the 9th to make the final score for Game 3 15-3.

The Dodgers were able to cut down the series lead to one game. Tomorrow, the game will start at 5:08 p.m. Pacific time, with the Dodgers pitching Clayton Kershaw against Bryse Wilson of the Braves. Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award recipient and the one-time MVP Award recipient, will face the rookie, Wilson, who will make his first-ever postseason start.

After this record-breaking game, the Dodgers seem ready to continue dominance for the rest of the series.   


GAME 2 — Dodgers lose 8-7 as late rally almost turns the tide

Oct. 13: The bad news continued this morning for Dodger fans when manager Dave Roberts announced that the team’s star pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, had been scratched from his start because of back spasms. Kershaw, who had a phenomenal year after a poor performance in the postseason last year, was replaced for today by a top rookie performer, Tony Gonsolin, who made his major league postseason debut this afternoon. 

The Braves had some bad news come out this morning as well. Adam Duvall, their starting left fielder, is now going to be missing the rest of the postseason after hurting his  oblique, the muscle that surrounds the abdominal muscles. This injury happened early in Game 1. To replace him, the Braves started their star rookie, Ian Anderson, who has been great all year including this postseason. 

For the first three innings of this ball game, it was all great pitching and fielding. Anderson didn’t have complete control over his pitches but found his way out of some bad situations, such as in the first inning when he had two runners on. 

Gonsolin was rolling right along and pitching some great baseball, with command over a curveball that dropped right below the batter’s knees. But at the start of the fourth inning, things started to fall apart for the Dodgers. The Braves’ Ronald Acuna, a very promising young player, walked, and the next batter sent the ball over the right fielder’s head and into the stands. This put the Braves up 2-0. 

In the 5th inning, the Braves piled even more runs on the Dodgers and it became 6-0. The Braves kept hitting the ball to the outfield and were able to advance their runners. In the early part of that inning, Roberts took Gonsolin out and it took three total pitchers to get out of the inning.  When it was over, the Braves had scored the majority of the runs for the game: seven runs on two hits and multiple walks. 

The Dodgers — who had scored the most runs in the MLB this year —  were not able to put up a run until the bottom of the seventh, when it was already 7-0. Corey Seager hit a shot between the right and center field to score three and make the game 7-3. The game was scoreless for the next full inning.

In the top of the ninth the Dodgers allowed multiple base runners and a solo home run to Ozzie Albies. Albies hit a home run last night as well late in the game.   The Dodgers were eventually able to get out of the inning. 

At the bottom of the ninth, the score was 8-3 and it looked as if the game was already over. The inning started off poorly for the Dodgers. Chris Taylor struck out on a high fastball.

But then, after a single by Mookie Betts and a double by Seager, which scored Betts, the Dodgers brought the score to within four. Justin Turner then struck out on a very good curveball by the Braves’ pitcher, Josh Tomlin. 

Max Muncy started some two-out magic, hitting a no-doubter of a home run to right field. The score was then 8-6. Will Smith hit a ground ball to Ozzie Albies who bobbled the ball and couldn’t get the runner out.  It was a costly error for the Braves. Cody Bellinger, who had been struggling these two games, had the hit of his life and scored the runner from first on a triple. 

The intense game continued. The Dodgers had a runner on third and it was a one-run game.  But AJ Pollock, who was tied with Betts for hitting the most home runs for the Dodgers this year, grounded out to third to end the game. 

In this game, which lasted four hours and 12 minutes, both teams used their bullpens for the majority of the game. Gonsolin lasted 4 ⅓ innings and Anderson lasted four. 

The Braves pulled ahead early and barely held on to a seven-run lead. Tyler Matzek, who pitched two innings of one-hit ball with one strikeout, got the win. The starting pitcher for the Dodgers, Tony Gonsolin, got the loss as the Dodgers fell to 2-0 in the series. 


GAME 1 — Dodgers lose 5-1 as pitching dominates the majority of game 1.

Oct. 12: As the National League Championship Series begins, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves are now fighting their way to a hoped-for World Series berth. Both teams are now going to have to face much tougher competition than they did in their first two playoff rounds where Atlanta beat Cincinnati and Miami and LA defeated Milwaukee and San Diego.

They’re also facing live fans. This game and series were the first of the Covid-shortened season that allowed fans to attend in person. Seats were sold in sets of four — 10,700 in all, according to media reports, out of 11,500 made available in the 40,300-seat Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, where all the games will be played in this series.  

Only a quarter of the stadium’s capacity, but still quite a change from cardboard cutouts. 

Game 1 starters were named a few days before and it was the ace of the Dodgers, Walker Buehler, against a National League Cy Young candidate, Max Fried. Both of the young pitchers had stellar starts to their careers.

During Game 1, both of the starting pitchers pitched well, but Fried outperformed Buehler. The Braves struck first with a Freddie Freeman home run. The score stayed that 1-0 until the bottom of the 5th when the Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez struck a long home run in his first start of this postseason to tie the game at one apiece. 

That score stayed the same until the top of the 9th inning.

 At that point, the Dodgers fell apart. Their manager, Dave Roberts, put in pitcher Blake Treinen to try to keep them in the game. But Treinen allowed three runs on three hits, while only getting one out. This opened up the game for the Braves.

The Dodgers weren’t able to come back in the bottom of the ninth and lost the game 5-1. LA, which is favored to win this series, went down 1-0 in the series — mostly because of Max Fried’s stellar performance and Blake Trenein’s poor ninth inning. 


 

 

 

1 Comment

One Response to “DODGETOBER”

  1. Alvin (“Poppy”) Hellerstein on October 16th, 2020 1:50 pm

    Nice, action-packed article, Jack. I’m proud of you.

    However, true confession, as a Yankee fan living in New York, and a former Giants fan when the team was in New York, I root against the Dodgers.

    I’m also rooting for Tampa Bay..

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