Ian Anderson’s first inning struggles have been well-documented and they quickly resurfaced Sunday night. Mookie Betts blooped a single just out of the reach of Dansby Swanson in short left to start the game. Corey Seager followed with a two-run blast on the first pitch he saw to stake the Dodgers to a 2-0 lead. Anderson walked two more hitters in the inning but escaped any further damage as Cody Bellinger flew out to center on Anderson’s 28th pitch of the inning.
Max Scherzer retired the first five Braves hitters he faced before Adam Duvall reached on a single in the second. However, Scherzer struck out Travis d’Arnaud looking to end the inning.
Anderson worked a quick second, retiring the side in orde,r but walked Seager to lead off the third. Trea Turner lined out on a nice running catch by Eddie Rosario for the first out. Will Smith followed with a single to put runners at first and second. With the bullpen warming, Anderson got Gavin Lux to pop out to Austin Riley in foul territory and then struck out Chris Taylor swinging to end the inning.
Somewhat surprisingly, that would be the end of the night for Anderson as Johan Camargo struck out while pinch-hitting for him in the home half of the inning. Anderson wasn’t sharp, allowing three hits, three walks and two runs in three innings. He threw 55 pitches with 30 going for strikes.
Jesse Chavez took over in the fourth and needed just six pitches to retire Bellinger, A.J. Pollock and Scherzer.
Atlanta finally broke through against Scherzer in the fourth. Riley worked a one out walk to bring up Joc Pederson. Pederson just missed a homer in his first at-bat, hooking it foul. He didn’t miss a 1-0 curveball from Scherzer that he drove into the second deck of the ChopHouse for a two-run home run that tied the game.
A.J. Minter replaced Chavez in the fifth and immediately issued a free pass to Betts to begin the inning. Minter got Seager to pop out and then struck out Turner for the second out with Betts running on the pitch. With first base open, Atlanta elected to intentionally walk Smith. Minter then got Lux to fly out harmlessly to Rosario in left for the final out.
Swanson led off the fifth with a single off of Scherzer. Scherzer then struck out pinch-hitter Orlando Arcia before Dave Roberts popped out of the dugout and summoned left-hander Alex Vesia from the bullpen.
Scherzer exited after throwing 79 pitches and allowing four hits and two runs over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked just one.
Vesia allowed a single to Rosario but then came back and struck out Freeman and Albies to strand the runners. That was Freeman’s third strikeout of the game and his seventh in seven at-bats during the NLCS.
The Braves went to Jacob Webb in the sixth and the Dodgers had the lead off man reach yet again thanks to a walk. Taylor then stole second and then moved over to third on a fly out by Bellinger. Webb then came back and struck out Pollock for the second out.
Dave Roberts then called on lefty Matt Beaty to pinch hit but Brian Snitker answered by going to Tyler Matzek. Roberts burned Beaty and sent Albert Pujols to the plate, who went down on strikes to strand the runner at third.
Everyday Tyler Matzek, Filthy Sliders. pic.twitter.com/RmeRsEJ0tG— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 18, 2021
Matzek stayed in for the seventh and issued yet another leadoff walk to Betts. Betts stole second but Matzek struck out Seager and Turner. Atlanta intentionally walked Smith again and Roberts would again go to his bench and send Justin Turner to the plate. Snitker replaced Matzek with Luke Jackson who hit Turner with a 1-1 pitch to load the bases.
That would come back to haunt the Braves as Chris Taylor dumped one in front of Guillermo Heredia (double-switched in Duvall’s spot when Jackson entered the game) in center who let the ball get by him. Two runs scored on the play to give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead.
The Braves intentionally walked Bellinger to load the bases again and Jackson struck out Pollock to bring the inning to an end.
d’Arnaud worked a walk off of Blake Treinen to begin the seventh but was erased as Swanson bounced into a double play. Heredia grounded to first to send the game to the eighth.
After Chris Martin worked a perfect eighth, Roberts went to Julio Urias, who is scheduled to start Game 4. He was greeted by an opposite field single by Rosario. Freeman snapped his strikeout streak with a fly out to left. Rosario tagged up on the play and slid into second just ahead of the tag. Albies followed with a single to right and Rosario just beat the throw home to cut the deficit to 4-3.
Atlanta’s rally wasn’t finished as Riley followed with a line drive double over the head of Betts in center that scored Albies all the way from first base to tie the game.
The Will Smith experience took the reins in the ninth and narrowly avoided disaster, as Smith’s first pitch was driven by Trea Turner nearly out of the park; Rosario caught it at the wall. Smith struck out the Dodgers’ Will Smith for the second out and then blew a fastball by pinch-hitter Austin Barnes for the final out of the inning.
In the home half of the ninth, d’Arnaud got things started with a broken bat single to center off of Brusdar Graterol. He was replaced at first by pinch-runner Cristian Pache. That brought Swanson to the plate, who inexplicably bunted back to Graterol who threw to second to nab Pache for the first out. Heredia grounded out to third for the second out and Roberts then summoned Kenley Jansen from the bullpen to face Rosario.
Rosario jumped on the first pitch he saw from Jansen and lined it back up the middle and off the glove of Seager. Swanson came flying around with the winning run to give the Braves a 5-4 win.
Atlanta again showed that there is no quit in this team. They take a 2-0 lead in the series which will now shift to Los Angeles for Games 3, 4 and 5.