Once again the Atlanta Braves couldn’t come up with a timely hit in a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS. The series and the entire season will come down to Sunday’s Game 7 for a chance to advance to the World Series. Game 6 was a tough loss to swallow because the Braves had their chances. Here are three takeaways from the loss.
Max Fried wasn’t sharp but he gave the Braves a chance
No it certainly was not the start that Atlanta was hoping for as the Dodgers connected for back-to-back homers and scored three runs off of Max Fried before the dust even settled in the first inning. Fried was missing his spots and the Dodgers made him pay. It was a shaky enough performance that Jacob Webb actually began throwing in Atlanta’s bullpen and a short outing would have been devastating for their chances in a winner take all Game 7.
Credit Fried for battling his way through it. He gutted his way through 6 2/3 innings while throwing a career-high 109 pitches. The Dodgers had baserunners on in every inning, but he was able to keep them off the scoreboard the rest of the way. You simply could not ask for much more and it is a shame that they were unable to score him any runs.
Braves have to find a way to jumpstart the offense
Since exploding for 10 runs in Game 4, the Braves have been held to four runs and have gone without a homer in two straight games. They were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Game 5 and were 2-for-11 in Game 6. They have left 13 men on base over the last two games. Perhaps more alarming, they have just three walks over that same span.
Atlanta loaded the bases with three straight singles in the second inning of Game 6 and didn’t score. Walker Buehler struck out Austin Riley on three pitches and then got Nick Markakis looking with a 100 mph fastball down the middle of the strike zone. While Buehler appeared to elevate his game after loading the bases, it has become all too common for Atlanta hitters to give away at-bats in this series. There may be no better example than the ninth inning of Game 6 where Dave Roberts turned to Kenley Jansen with a two-run lead. Jansen of course had lost his role as closer after struggling with his velocity and his performance during the NLDS.
So there would be some merit in trying to put some pressure on Jansen in a tight situation. Riley swung at the first pitch and was retired on a nice diving catch by Joc Pederson in left. Markakis then swung at the first pitch and hit a lazy fly ball to Cody Bellinger in center. Two outs on two pitches equaled zero pressure on Jansen in the ninth.
All hands on deck for Game 7
As bleak as everything feels for the Braves at the moment, it is worth remembering that they are still just one win away from a trip to the World Series. Fried’s performance in Game 6 allowed them to preserve the bullpen and Brian Snitker said after the game that everyone would be available for Sunday’s Game 7. Ian Anderson has come up big since his arrival and the Braves will ask him to do so again.
The Braves got to this point on the strength of their offense and that is what will determine whether their season continues. The one thing this team has been able to do consistently in 2020 is answer adversity in a big way. They will get another chance to show that on Sunday.