Dodgers and Braves chase MLB title drought

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Los Angeles (AFP)

A mighty Los Angeles Dodgers team and a tough-throwing brave Atlanta lineup meet in the Major League Baseball playoffs, each trying to end a drought for the World Series title.

The Dodgers and Braves, both unbeaten in this year’s postseason race, open their best series of seven National League championships Monday in Arlington, Texas.

The winner qualifies for the 116th World Series to face the winner of the American League Championship Series, which sends the Houston Astros against the Tampa Bay Rays starting Sunday in San Diego.

The Dodgers are looking to make their third World Series appearance in four years, but they haven’t won the crown since 1988, losing to Houston in 2017 and Boston in 2018.

Atlanta last won the crown in 1995 and until that year the Braves hadn’t won a playoff series since 2001, losing 10 in a row.

The Dodgers produced the best record in this shortened coronavirus campaign at 43-17, leading the major leagues with 118 homers and 385 total points, better than Atlanta.

“It’s a very good team,” said Dodgers wide receiver Will Smith. “Really powerful attack. I have good arms. It should be a good game. That should be a lot of good baseball. We can not wait to be there. ”

Braves star first baseman Freddie Freeman has registered .341 with 13 homers and has 53 points this season.

“Quite possibly the best NHL player this year to Freddie Freeman – they’re playing the game the right way,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the Braves. ” Very talented. ”

The Braves also feature Marcell Ozuna, who had 18 home runs on 77 hits with 56 runs scored, and 22-year-old first hitter Ronald Acuna, who hit 14 home runs.

But where Atlanta has dominated the playoffs is on the mound, with pitchers throwing four shutouts in five games.

Max Fried threw the two game opener wins for the Braves in the postseason. Rookie right-hander Ian Anderson didn’t allow a run in 11 2/3 playoff innings and Kyle Wright pitched six scoreless innings to complete a second-round sweep of Miami.

The Braves’ starting pitchers have a combined 1.26 ERA in the playoffs, while the Atlanta reliever box has a 0.44 ERA.

Spectators will be allowed into MLB games for the first time this season with 11,500 masked and socially distanced fans in the stands in Arlington for the NLCS and World Series.

Fans will still not be allowed to participate in the ALCS in San Diego.

“I can’t wait to be there,” Smith said. “It will probably increase the intensity a bit, but once the game starts it’s intense. Every land counts. ”

Snitker still marvels at the feat of getting this far into the season during a pandemic.

“Everything is going so fast,” he said. “Sometimes I take a step back and think, ‘How the hell do we do this?’ It has been difficult for the entire industry to overcome this situation. But we’re on the last four. ”

– Snell opens for the shelves –

The other half of the title hunt offers a Tampa Bay team that lost the 2008 World Series in their lone race to the final against an Astros team looking to redeem themselves after a sign-stealing scandal uncovered early in this season. year that marred their 2017 title.

An elaborate system involving cameras allowed the Astros to steal signs from visiting catchers and knock on trash cans to alert hitters of the type of pitch ahead.

The Rays will use left-handed pitcher Blake Snell in Sunday’s opener. He allowed four runs in five innings in a one-game loss to the New York Yankees in the first round after striking out nine runs in 5 1/3 innings against Toronto in the first round.

While the Rays didn’t face the Astros in the regular season, Snell allowed a 3-1 / 3 innings in last year’s playoffs.

The Rays hope to rest an enclosure that was taken to extremes by taking down the Yankees in a decisive series on Friday.

The NLCS and ALCS played on neutral venues mean no travel days, so both series could see up to seven games in seven days.

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