Dodgers Sleepwalk in Atlanta, Braves Turn out the Lights
After a sloppy weekend of baseball, the Dodgers head back to Los Angeles down 2-0 in a best of seven series.
Maybe the Dodgers celebrated too hard after beating the Giants. Maybe San Francisco pushed their bodies past their physical breaking points last week. Maybe nobody told them the Braves were good?
For whatever reason, the Dodgers went to Atlanta and played two sleepy, sloppy games in a row. The Braves walked them off both nights. And now the Dodgers head back to Los Angeles down 2-0.
Not starting Max Scherzer in game 1 was the first clue that the big dog was tired. The 450-foot bomb he gave up to Joc Pederson to tie the score at two in the fourth inning was the second clue. Scherzer lasted only a few more batters after that.
It wasn’t Scherzer’s fault the Dodgers lost, however. The blame lies squarely on the hitters who are 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position this series. (The Braves, meanwhile, are 3-for-7). Yesterday I watched the Cowboys play the Patriots and the vibe felt similar. Dallas held the ball for more than twice as long as New England did but trailed for most of the game because Dak Prescott fumbled in the end zone. The Dodgers are pushing their way down the field and then fumbling the ball into the end zone, over and over again.
Dave Roberts was error-free in the Dodgers series vs. the Giants. We were probably due for some managerial blunders, I guess, because he brought Julio Urías in for some reason in the 8th with a two-run lead. Urías coughed up that lead faster than I could say “Kenley Jansen exists.”
Hats off to the Braves, who are playing like they want to go to the World Series. Nobody cares that they won 20 fewer games than the Dodgers in the regular season. And hey, for Dodger fans whining about Max Muncy and what could have been if he were healthy, Atlanta lost Ronald Acuña Jr. for the year and they’re up two games to zero.
I woke up to a text from an AL manager who said the Dodgers look exhausted. I agree. And if I’m still exhausted from that Giants series I can’t imagine how the players feel. But they can’t act like the Giants series was their World Series if they want to win the actual thing
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The good news for the Dodgers is they’re coming home, where their 58-23 record was by far the best in MLB. They came back from being down 2-0 in the NLCS to the Braves last season, so they won’t be intimidated like a young or inexperienced team. The bad news is the Braves remember what it felt like to get bounced from the playoffs by the Dodgers in 2020, and in 2018, and in 2013. The Dodgers have been their Voldemort. And they would like nothing more than to get their revenge.
Here’s some more bad news for the Dodgers:
The Braves’ best player literally could not be playing any worse unless he chucked a live ball into the stands out of frustration. Freddie Freeman is one of my absolute favorite players to watch. He and Ozzie Albies are two of the friendliest guys in MLB. They’re so chatty out there that every runner has to navigate two conversations before he can get to second base. Freeman and Albies are everything good about the game, and they both deserve to win rings at some point. But if you’re a Dodger fan you just hope it doesn’t happen in a few weeks.
The Dodgers have an extra rested Walker Buehler on the mound at Dodger Stadium tomorrow, and they will need him to go long. The middle three games in a seven game series are always dicey for relievers. The team that doesn’t have to go to some poor guy for the third time in three days in game 5 will probably win.
Can the Dodgers win four of the next five games from the Braves to capture the pennant for the fourth time in five years? Absolutely. They are more talented than the Braves and they just came from behind to knock out a better Giants team? Will they? I’m not so sure anymore. The Turners need to get it together. AJ Pollock needs to stop swinging at sliders in the dirt. Walker Buehler and Julio Urías need to shove on Tuesday and Wednesday, because the Dodgers are looking at another bullpen game on Thursday. If they play to their ability, they might win four games in a row.
But if they play the way they played this weekend? They might get swept.