Les Braves win 2021 NLCS Game 2
ATLANTA – Ian Anderson has only lasted three innings, Freddie Freeman has tied one skid at bat his career and the Braves have walked nine. But thanks to Eddie Rosario and a stubbornly stingy bullpen, the city of Atlanta still loves everything about Joctober.
Rosario experienced the thrill of a storybook performance when he capped a four-stroke night with the late-game single that gave the Braves a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series Sunday night at Truist Park.
“You better not leave early when this team is down because you will end up missing the best part of the game and listening to it on your radio when you get home,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “These guys never give up.”
En route to claim a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers in the NLCS for a second straight season, the Braves joined the 1997 Marlins (NLDS vs. Giants), ’81 Astros (NLDS vs. Dodgers) and ’69 Orioles (ALCS vs. Twins) as the only teams to have achieved a victory in the first two games of a playoff series.
In playoff history, teams taking a 2-0 lead in any best-of-seven series have won that series 73 out of 87 times (84%). The most recent return from a 2-0 deficit involved those same teams last year, with the Dodgers rallying both 2-0 and 3-1 to advance to the World Series.
“I think when we all pull on the same string, special things happen,” said Braves outfielder Joc Pederson. “You can see we’re doing it right now. There is no one who has the pressure on their shoulders to do the job. She’s a new person every day and that’s what makes her special.
Rosario became the first player with more than four hits and one hit in a playoff game since David Ortiz in 2004. He was pushed into the unknown leader role with Jorge Soler on COVID IL. Rosario responded by scoring a big run in the first run on Saturday and fueling the Braves two-out and eighth-run rally on Sunday.
But the 30-year-old outfielder’s most memorable contribution was the one that sent the Braves to Los Angeles with momentum.
With a runner in the second and two strikeouts in the ninth, the Dodgers called Kenley Jansen closer. Rosario greeted him by throwing a first pitch cutter down the middle, where he glanced at shortstop Corey Seager’s glove, which was positioned behind the second baseman sack. Dansby Swanson scored unchallenged.
“I feel good today, and when I feel good I get aggressive all the time,” said Rosario. “I know I faced him yesterday. He took me out. But I didn’t want to try too hard today. Yesterday I tried to hit a home run and today I tried to get a hit.
It wasn’t a game the Braves seemed destined to win when Chris Taylor’s double brace against Luke Jackson gave the Dodgers a two-point lead in the seventh. But when Los Angeles turned to the expected player of Game 4 Julio Urías in the eighth inning, the Braves took advantage with their roster top against the southpaw.
Rosario spoiled the Dodgers’ plan with a starting single and Freeman, who had struck out in his first seven home plate appearances in the NLCS, produced a flying ball to left field that moved Rosario to second place with a aggressive base stroke.
Ozzie Albies, who willingly swung to the right side of the plate to face Urías, opted to lead Rosario, who needed an impressive slide to beat the pitch and dodge receiver Will Smith’s tag. Austin Riley, the hero of Game 1, then produced an equalizer double.
Before the eighth, the Braves’ only points had come via Pederson’s 454-foot homerun against Max Scherzer in the fourth.
“We get knocked down a few times, but we are able to go back, engage a guy, pass him and then land a big shot,” said Pederson. “So that’s pretty special. “
This victory certainly did not go according to plan. Anderson gave up a two-run homer before recording the game’s first out, and after a long conversation with Snitker in the dugout as he was due to finish second in the bottom of the third, he was called out after three unimpressive innings. . It seemed like a recipe for disaster. But a dead arm led Dodgers starter Max Scherzer to come out with a fifth inning putout, making it a box office battle.
Snitker has managed to manage his relievers, so the Braves should feel comfortable if they go for another bullpen game in Game 4 on Wednesday.
With Charlie Morton set to start Game 3 on Tuesday and Max Fried in line to start Game 5 (if needed) on Thursday, the Braves have reason to feel good heading to Dodger Stadium. They know what happened last year, but a much stronger rotation and a pair of resilient wins make them feel like this year will be different.
“You can’t stop now,” Riley said. “You have to keep applying pressure and going out every day and chasing it.”