In an incredibly exciting and utterly intense game that ended on the wire, it was Austin Riley and his massive punches that made the difference and helped give the Braves a 3-2 victory – giving Atlanta a 1-0 lead in the 2021 NLCS.
The Dodgers went with Corey Knebel as their first game for a second straight game and the Braves were able to take advantage of that. New top hitter Eddie Rosario got a first hit to start things off, then stole second base while Freddie Freeman struck out to get in position to score with an out. A failure by Ozzie Albies moved him to third place and then Rosario crossed the plate to give Atlanta the lead after Knebel threw a wild pitch, that’s all the Braves got, but it ‘was a rare example of the Braves doing a bit of ABC baseball to get a run.
Because the Dodgers are the Dodgers, they responded immediately. In what was a theme for tonight, Los Angeles really got to work once there were two strikeouts. This time AJ Pollock hit a double with two outs, then Chris Taylor called with a single to tackle Pollock and tie the game. So just like that, the game was level and things got nervous again after a brief period of ecstasy.
There was no more goal until the fourth inning, when the Dodgers broke the tie aloud. In this particular at-bat, Max Fried threw two of the best curved balls he would throw all night to take the 0-2 lead over fellow Will Smith. He then went for a fastball on the third pitch and Smith sent it up in the air and over the fence for a solo home run. After that, the Dodgers fell in order, but Smith’s home run really felt like a punch after the strike started for Fried.
Fortunately, it was Atlanta’s turn to react quickly and it came in the form of an Austin Riley stun. After Ozzie flew off to start the inning, Riley shot the third pitch he saw over the reliever box in left field and cleared into the fair territory seats to make it. again a draw. It was really impressive of Riley’s part to stay fair and everyone in this stadium was absolutely thrilled to see him come through the fence.
From that point on, the two pitching teams punched each other for the vast majority of that game. Max Fried didn’t exactly have his best assets, but by the time he left the game after the sixth inning, those two points earlier were all the Dodgers had under their belt. Meanwhile, the relievers’ play was doing wonders for Los Angeles, as they regularly sat the Braves hitters with relatively few problems. Both pitching teams were up to the task and seized the opportunity in this one and it was spectacular to watch. Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson both continued to be the lights out on the mound.
Eventually he got to the final stages of the game and both teams went to their usual arms late in the round. Kenley Jansen pulled the team out in order in the bottom of the eighth, which meant Will Smith Time was in the top of the ninth. As usual, Will Smith didn’t make it easy. He gave up the first walks of the game by any pitcher from either team and it happened with two strikeouts because of course he did. Cody Bellinger then came on to pinch the blow and although he did succeed with a single, Chris Taylor did the Braves a huge favor after being thrown into the grassroots paths like a nincompoop. The Braves have gotten used to giving these kinds of gifts to other teams during the playoffs, so it was really nice to see that happen in Atlanta’s favor this time around.
It ended up being a major breath of life for the Braves down the ninth. The Dodgers went with Blake Treinen to try and get extra innings and as he pulled out Freddie Freeman to hang the Golden Sombrero on top of his head, the next two at bat went wonderfully well for Atlanta. Ozzie Albies hit it off with a single bloop that somehow found some weed, then stole second base to set the stage for Austin Riley. The 2021 MVP candidate had the chance to shine when it mattered most and hoo boy, he said. already shine.
Austin Riley’s departure capped an incredibly tense but wonderfully exciting 3-2 win for the Braves and gave them a crucial 1-0 lead in the NLCS. The pitching staff once again stepped up and delivered a performance to match the occasion, and their fantastic efforts on the mound were enough to keep the Braves in the game. When it comes to the home plate action, the Braves managed to take the win over the Dodgers because Austin Riley said so.