MLB Playoffs 2020 – Inside the historic first inning that saved the Los Angeles Dodgers season


ARLINGTON, Texas – Before proceeding with the autopsy of the rash that was Game 3 of the National League Championship Series Wednesday night, a reminder: there is no physical prize for winning a baseball game by a gargantuan number of points. The Los Angeles Dodgers would have benefited as much from a 4-3 victory as from the real score, 15-3. They still lag the Atlanta Braves in the series 2-1. Bonus points and extra credits do not exist in baseball.

Preface completed. What the Dodgers did, especially during the 32-minute show they presented in an 11-point first inning, was more than just a win. The Dodgers saved their season in Game 3. Teams that lose 3-0 in seven games do not recover. Teams that falter flawlessly in the most important games of the year do not win championships. And these Dodgers, talented as they are, with as many CVs as they’ve built themselves in the 43-17 regular season, aren’t inclined to end up on another chess list.

“We know who we are,” said first baseman Max Muncy.

Who they are depends on what they accomplish over the next two weeks. Here’s who the Dodgers were in the first inning on Wednesday: a demolition team that not only broke records, but also the will of the team that had beaten them twice in a row. The Walloping Los Angeles unleashed on Braves rookie Kyle Wright was quick, stern and singular. Never before has a team scored 11 points in a playoff set, let alone the first, and Wright found himself responsible for seven of them. His ERA for the game sounded like an FM radio station: 94.50, playing hits.

The Dodgers’ last 10 runs have been accompanied by two strikeouts. They hit three homers in the set, capped by a grand slam from Muncy, who ended up on second base for the second out. They’ve set all kinds of team records and looked set to challenge a few playoff records, but haven’t been able to put together a run in the last six innings.

Even still, the Dodgers got what they needed both for the win and for that resurrected sense of superiority. As hard as it may be to measure, the psychological boost from a game like Wednesday’s cannot be overlooked. Simple calculations do not reflect the difference between a 3-0 drop and a 2-1 drop. One is a TL-30 safe for an amateur cracker. The other is a lock with a key taped to the back.

And now it’s Clayton Kershaw to grab hold of. His specter stood out in Game 3. Kershaw was supposed to start Game 2 for the Dodgers until his back grabbed. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts declared him better and ready to start Game 4 on Thursday. And as the Braves face the prospect of pitching Bryse Wilson – him from two starts and 15 innings this season – against the best pitcher of his generation, even Kershaw’s hiccups in the playoffs of years past cannot dampen the good ones. vibrations emanating from the Dodgers. Next game 3.

Everyone from Roberts to Corey Seager (3 for 4 with homerun) to Joc Pederson (4 in 6 with homerun) cited the ninth inning of Game 2, when Los Angeles scored four runs and turned a blowout. des Braves in a loss of one point, like a turning point. It sounds like the kind of story that a struggling team is selling. Perhaps the real answer is that LA scored their 19 points between the two games of Josh Tomlin, Wright and Grant Dayton, who gave up the last eight of Game 3.

It doesn’t matter. Just as a win is a win, a run scored is a run, and the Braves’ perceived weakness heading into this postseason – pitch depth – could finally be exposed. It’s not a death knell for them, not with a formation that can devastate even a pitcher like Kershaw’s. It’s more of an acknowledgment that ending the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins rosters in five games combined is a lot different than keeping the Dodgers in check over a seven game streak.

That explosion started at 5:07 p.m. local time with Mookie Betts cutting a ball along the third base line and releasing a ball that a replay review turned into a single. Seager scored it with a double. After the failures of Justin Turner and Muncy, the Dodgers went doubles, walk, home run, home run, walk, pitch change, walk, single, shot for the ball, grand slam. In the round, they hit five balls at over 105 mph. They feasted on fastballs, with six of their seven hits coming from the heaters. By the time 5:39 pm arrived and Dayton had written off Will Smith, the Dodgers had turned those in the crowd of 10,664 at Globe Life Field wearing Braves jerseys into human mute buttons.

There was, as Atlanta learned last year, no answer for an inning like this: the Braves had experienced it in the first inning of their fifth game winning or entering the Division Series. against the St. Louis Cardinals. Because this one came with a much better cushion – again, just in case you forgot, Atlanta is still leading this series – it wasn’t nearly as painful. But we wouldn’t consider it pleasant either.

“Honestly, we’re in better shape than if we had defeated 7-5,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We wanted to win the game and everything, but when you look at it I can say the last four hours haven’t been very fun. If we were to lose the game it was probably the best possible way. “

It’s a good edge for Snitker to take and he can, knowing that he won’t need to bring his ace, Max Fried, back on a short rest for Game 5 again. He could still call the same. with Anderson, but one more victory. ensures both are able to pitch at full rest in this series, so Snitker’s poise in the middle of the boat race isn’t unreasonable.

Likewise, as much as the Dodgers could be caught up in what they’ve done – become the first team in playoff history to score 18 total goals in one set as well as the only team to make five home runs. in the top three. playoff innings – their optimism is loaded with caution. Of course, they have kept their season intact, never losing more than two games in a row. Equally impressive is their ability to blast teams to avoid three-game streaks – they’ve beaten their opponents 29-12 in four regular-season games to avoid such slippage. They would also be just the third team to win an NLCS after trailing 2-0 – and the last time that happened was 35 years ago.

The Dodgers last won the World Series 32 years ago, so doing things that haven’t been done in decades is already on their checklist. Their last step in that direction was to do things that weren’t done in history. That’s what the Dodgers want to be.

But who are they? We will find out soon enough.


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