Dodgers tables transformed in NLCS Game 4 erupting loss to Braves

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The pitching match, all eyes and computers alike, was one of the biggest possible gaps so far in October.On the one hand, the Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw, a future Hall of Famer, making his 28th playoff start in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. On the other hand, Bryse Wilson, a 22-year-old rookie with a career ERA approaching a touchdown, was making his playoff debut for the Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers’ superior pitching depth was supposed to shine for the second night in a row. The Braves had to take a few tough hours and move on. Instead, Wilson dominated over six innings, Kershaw’s gas tank emptied in another forgettable playoff performance, and the paddock burned in the Dodgers’ 10-2 loss in a windy field of Globe Life Thursday.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, the Dodgers, owners of the best regular season record, face a 3-1 series deficit. They need to win three matches in three days to keep their World Series hopes alive. Game five is scheduled for Friday at 6:08 p.m. PDT.

“We’ve won three in a row on numerous occasions during the regular season,” said Dodgers designated hitter Edwin Ríos. “We can do it again.”

Wilson was the third consecutive rookie to start for the Braves. They went with him because they had no other options and were prepared for a pen game. Wilson broke those expectations.

One night after clubbing Kyle Wright, another right-hander rookie, and scoring a record 11 points in the first inning, the Dodgers’ aggression played out against them on Thursday. Wilson, relying on a fastball in the mid-90s, threw just 74 shots. He gave up a hit – a solo homerun from Ríos in the third inning – to become the third youngest pitcher to register at least six innings and not give more than one hit in a playoff game. Four Braves relievers called to give up a run in the last three innings.

“He did a good job working the outside and inside part of the plate for the LH and RH hitters,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Wilson, “and we don’t couldn’t match it regularly enough. ”

Kershaw was originally scheduled to start Game 2 on Tuesday but was scratched with back spasms. Two days later, he kept the Braves off the field until Marcell Ozuna crushed the first of his two homers in the fourth inning. Atlanta threw more balls, but most found Dodgers players. Kershaw’s fortune expired in the sixth.

Ronald Acuña Jr. started with a hit from the field and took second on Kiké Hernández’s throwing error. Freddie Freeman then hit a ground ball through the right side that went to the right field wall for an RBI brace to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead.

Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna circles the bases after hitting a home run against Clayton Kershaw in the fourth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS Thursday.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

At that point, right-hander Brusdar Graterol, one of the few high-leverage relievers in the Dodgers, was warming up in the reliever pen. Ozuna, a right-handed juggernaut, was next. His first two previous at-bats – a hard-hit ground ball and the home run – suggested he had Kershaw figured out. But Roberts, encouraged by Kershaw’s clean fifth inning and the less-than-hard contact he made from the first two hitters, let Kershaw face Ozuna a third time.

“I felt great with Clayton there,” said Roberts. “I really did. I didn’t feel the need to go “pen right there”.

Moments later, Ozuna beat an RBI brace for the second of his four hits to get Kershaw out.

“I made him a few mistakes and maybe other guys did too,” Kershaw said, “and he didn’t fail. ”

Graterol replaced Kershaw and collapsed. Ozzie Albies chose. Dansby Swanson scored a two-point brace. Finally, Austin Riley delivered an RBI single to give Atlanta a six-point advantage and force Graterol out.

Atlanta Braves designated hitter Marcell Ozuna celebrates as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run in the fourth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Kershaw was ultimately charged with four runs and seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk. Graterol, who had not allowed an inherited runner to score before Thursday, was charged with three runs in a third of a run.

“They were just finding the holes and we couldn’t find a way to limit the damage,” Roberts said.

The temperature dropped and the Globe Life Field became a wind tunnel when the roof was opened 45 minutes before the first launch. The gusts fluctuated between six and 15 mph, blowing from right field, at first step. The uniforms were flapping. The hair was fluttering. Dirt lashed in the players’ eyes.

The decision on the status of the roof rests with Major League Baseball in the playoffs. The league has decided it will keep the round ball shirtless for every playoff game unless rain is forecast, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The problem was that no one – not even the architects of the building – knew how the baseball stadium would handle the strong wind. The elements were unprecedented for Globe Life Field, a $ 1.2 billion building that opened this year. It was essentially a trial by mistake.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner dives but can't stop a brace by the Atlanta Braves Dansby Swanson.

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner dives but can’t stop a brace by the Atlanta Braves Dansby Swanson in the sixth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS Thursday.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

“If you have a roof I don’t know why [you wouldn’t] shut it up, ”Kershaw said.

Ríos had no problem with the elements on his first inning at batting when he crushed a solo home run in right field – straight through the wind – in the third inning for the first inning of the game.

But the wind blew Los Angeles in the fourth inning on Joc Pederson’s 411-foot flyover and again in the seventh inning when he swallowed AJ Pollock’s long ball in right field.

The Dodgers threatened to do more in the seventh as they charged up the bases twice, but gathered just one more point on Ríos’ sacrificial volley and failed to score again.

They have scored just two runs in 15 innings since a record explosion of 15 points in the first three innings of Game 2. Now they face elimination and another long winter without a championship.

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