LOS ANGELES – Luke Jackson pitched the pitch he wanted to exactly where he wanted it, and Cody Bellinger always hammered that fastball over the letters deep into the frenzied right field of Dodger Stadium for a home run tied three points in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series.
“The sad thing is I would do the same thing again,” said the dismayed Atlanta reliever.
The Braves realize that even the best-laid out plans and the best-located fields can go wrong in the playoffs, especially when you’re up against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
They are determined not to let the shock of the Dodgers’ astonishing 6-5 victory on Tuesday night interrupt their quest to eliminate the defending World Series champions.
“Feel like it’s like a dagger?” No, âsaid Jackson, who allowed four runs on four hits in the eighth after starting the playoffs with six straight scoreless outings.
âIt’s just, you know, a speed bump on the road,â Jackson added. “And I wish that didn’t happen, and I would like us to lead 3-0 before Game 4 and have a chance to sweep, but I have no doubt that our team will come back and (being) stronger tomorrow and ready to remember and roll.
For the second consecutive season, the Braves had a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers in the NLCS. Once again, the Braves missed their chance to put their big-budget opponents in the deepest hole in the series.
And that heartbreaker probably stung the Braves a lot more than last year’s 15-3 loss in Game 3.
A blowout is much easier to eliminate than a loss in which the Braves had a three-point lead with five strikeouts to go, but failed to shut down their 106-win opponents.
“We’ve lost tough games already, bounced back and done some really good things,” said Atlanta manager Brian Snitker. “So this is just one of those games, you got to get 27 withdrawals, man.”
The first 22 outs went pretty well, but two relievers from the fairly reliable Atlanta reliever box couldn’t hold onto the lead.
After Bellinger hit his three-run tying homer, Mookie Betts logged in for an RBI brace against Jesse Chavez.
Atlanta hitters 4-5-6 then struck against Dodgers closest Kenley Jansen, and a streak that seemed to move the Braves into a landslide abruptly changed course to Game 4 on Wednesday night.
The Dodgers have made nine straight playoff appearances and have won three of the previous four National League pennants with some of the most expensive rosters in baseball history. But as Snitker and Jackson have pointed out, the Braves aren’t playoff newbies: they’re making their fourth straight playoff appearance, and they’ve learned from their experiences – especially last season when they lost the NLCS 2-0 and 3-1 advances in Los Angeles.
âBeing here again I think everyone has a bit of comfort and knows we can compete,â Jackson said. “We’re a great team, and we have a great bond together in the clubhouse and I think it’s pulling really hard.”
The Braves had limited the Dodgers to four hits in the first seven innings of Game 3, with Charlie Morton and his reliever box largely calming LA’s wealth of offensive talent. The Dodgers then got six more hits against Jackson and Chavez in the eighth.
Bellinger, a former NHL MVP in a nightmarish year, only hit .150 against fastballs in the regular season and struggled to reach the heights. Still, he improbably got every part of that 95.6 mph fastball over Jackson’s area, crushing him to 399 feet.
Chris Taylor then scored a single and eventually scored when Betts landed the last of their long hitting streak for the Dodgers, connecting to another solid ground from veteran Chavez, a Los Angeles area native who played for both the Dodgers and the Angels.
Snitker and his players can take comfort in the fact that a lot went well for Atlanta before it all went wrong in Game 3.
Freddie Freeman, the 2020 National League MVP, had three hits after going 0 for 8 in the first two games and 4 for 21 in the playoffs.
The Atlanta hitters also hit one of the Dodgers’ star pitchers pretty early on: After chasing Max Scherzer in the fifth inning of Game 2, the Braves knocked Walker Buehler out of the mound in the fourth inning, scoring him for seven hits. safe and four points. .
The game looked relatively secure with a three-point lead for the Braves’ box, who posted a 3.97 ERA during the regular season, which was good for 10th place in the majors.
The relievers will have to get rid of this shock quickly, and Snitker has not lost confidence: the manager confirmed he plans to start a game from the pen on Wednesday night.
âThese guys are all going to be tired,â Snitker said. âWhen the season is over, these guys will be suspended. There is no doubt about it. They have all winter to rest. I think they’re all going to be fine.
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