The Atlanta Braves jumped out to an early lead but then had to hold on at the end for an 8-7 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers to take a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. Atlanta held the Dodgers in check once again before things got a little sideways at the end. The series isn’t over by any means but the Braves have to feel pretty good about where they currently sit. Here are three thoughts from Game 2 as we prepare for the series to continue on Wednesday.
Ian Anderson wasn’t sharp but battled for four innings
Giving the uncertainty with their rotation, it felt like the Braves probably needed to win every game started by Max Fried and Ian Anderson to have a chance. Anderson wasn’t as sharp as we have seen him but he was able to pitch out of trouble and keep the Dodgers scoreless over four innings. That extended Anderson’s postseason streak for consecutive scoreless innings to 15 2/3 which is the fourth longest streak in Braves postseason history trailing only Lew Burdette, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery.
Ian Anderson has thrown 15 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings so far this postseason— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 14, 2020
That's the 4th-longest scoreless innings streak in Braves postseason history, behind only:
1957 Lew Burdette: 24 IP
1995-96 Tom Glavine: 18 IP
1991 Steve Avery: 16 1/3 IP
Freddie Freeman homers again, gets hit on the elbow
Freddie Freeman homered for the second straight game and got the Braves offense started. After an MVP caliber regular season, Freeman is starting to heat up again. He finished the game 2-for-3 and drove in three runs including his two-run shot in the fourth inning. The Braves did get a scare in the eighth when Freeman was hit on the elbow by a pitch from former teammate Alex Wood. Brian Snitker told reporters after the game that Freeman was fine but that it stung him and he lost feeling for a bit. That was the same elbow that Freeman had offseason surgery on.
Braves #MixItUp in the 5th
The Dodgers have a potent offensive lineup but you got to see just how deep Atlanta’s can go in the fifth inning. The rally started when Tony Gonsolin walked Nick Markakis after a 10-pitch at-bat with one out. Cristian Pache followed with a double that made the score 3-0. Gonsolin would exit after a walk to Acuña but the Braves continued to pour it on. A single by Freeman, two more walks and a sacrifice fly by Ozzie Albies extended the lead to 6-0.
Atlanta took a boom or bust approach through the first two rounds of the playoffs and put up some big strikeout totals. We have seen that shift a bit in the NLCS as they have been more selective and willing to hit the ball the other way. The Braves did strike out 12 times in Game 2 but tallied seven walks. That will be an important factor to monitor as this series continues.
Bullpen derby at the end a result of no off days
Playing a seven-game series with no off days is going to have an effect. Atlanta built a big early lead and Brian Snitker attempted to stay away from his big guns in the bullpen. After A.J. Minter allowed a three-run home run to Corey Seager in the seventh, Chris Martin tossed a scoreless frame in the eighth. After Albies extended the lead to 8-3 with a home run, Snitker tried to get away with having Josh Tomlin close out the game. It didn’t go well as Tomlin was tagged for three runs in just 2/3 of an inning and Snitker was forced to turn to Melancon to get the final out.
You will no doubt read a lot about how the Dodgers will carry some momentum into Game 3 due to their late rally but that in part was a byproduct of a series with no off days. Both the Braves and the Dodgers are going to have to find an off day for their relievers at some point in the series. Atlanta was able to save Will Smith in Game 2 but Chris Martin may not be available Wednesday after two straight appearances. Atlanta’s deep bullpen has served it well but that depth is going to get put to the test in this series.