Tonight’s game was close from start to finish but at the end of the night, the Atlanta Braves were able to outlast the Los Angeles Dodgers in order to avoid getting swept. Atlanta manufactured a run in the bottom of the ninth inning in a tie game in order take a 4-3 win in walk-off fashion.
For the first three innings of this game, things were extremely quiet at the plate for both teams as both pitchers hit the ground running. Tony Gonsolin had a perfect game going through the first three frames, while Bryce Elder continued to get things done in Bryce Elder-like fashion — he was giving up hits but always managed to find a way to get out of any jams that he found himself in. The defense also showed up for Elder in a big way in this one, as Orlando Arcia and Ozzie Albies teamed up to turn a very slick double play to help Elder get out of the third inning with the score still tied at zero.
The deadlock lasted until the bottom of the fourth inning, which is when the Braves woke up in an extremely loud manner. Tony Gonsolin still had a perfect game going up until he ran into Matt Olson in this frame, which is when Olson broke up the perfect game, no-hitter and shutout bid with one very emphatic swing.
Naturally, since we’re talking about the Dodgers here, they didn’t just let that go by without responding. Mookie Betts led off the very next frame with a line drive that went into the road bullpen in left field. The Braves were able to respond with an even bigger bop in their half of the fifth inning, though. That’s when Marcell Ozuna continued his hot run through the month of May by hitting yet another dinger. The moonshot made it 3-1 Braves and Atlanta had a little bit of breathing room going forward.
It stayed 3-1 through the sixth and seventh inning, as Bryce Elder exited in the sixth inning with just the one run allowed. It was yet another start where Elder didn’t exactly look super imposing but then you look up and he’s managed to shut down yet another team while he was on the mound. Who knows how long it’s going to last but the fact that it’s lasted this long may mean that this is just going to be how it goes for Bryce Elder. We aren’t complaining about it, though!
Jesse Chavez pitched a clean seventh inning (thanks in part to some slick defense and Matt Olson catching a bullet line drive from Freddie Freeman for an inning-ending unassisted double play) but Nick Anderson was not as fortunate. Anderson finally surrendered a leadoff hit and then J.D. Martinez turned it into a jam after he hit a one-out double to make it runners at second and third base with just the one out. Jason Heyward’s productive out made it a one-run game and then Miguel Vargas proceeded to foul off what felt like 46 pitches before he somehow hit a pitch that was nearly in his batter’s box and managed to pull it into fair territory in left field for a game-tying double.
The scoring ended there in the eighth for Los Angeles and while the Dodgers threatened to score in the top of the ninth, Raisel Iglesias was able to get out of the frame by stranding Will Smith and Freddie Freeman at first and third, respectively. Iglesias’ clean inning gave the Braves the chance to walk it off in the ninth inning, and things started off well enough after Austin Riley doubled to lead off the frame and then Travis d’Arnaud moved him to third base with a ground ball.
It was up to Ozzie Albies to make something happen with one out and this time, it was Atlanta’s turn to foul off a bunch of pitches before doing something productive with the at-bat. Ozzie battled Phil Bickford for seven pitches, with Ozzie hitting a fly ball deep to right field that was easily deep enough to bring Riley home from third for the walk-off sacrifice fly to avoid the sweep.
While the Braves definitely would’ve preferred to have been on the other side of the 2-1 series result, it still feels good to see the home team avoid getting swept. Walk-offs are also exciting to watch as well, and it was also pleasant to see Atlanta manufacture the game-winning run. It might not be as flashy as a homer or a gapper but in this case, it works just the same and the end result is still just as exciting. There’s no rest for the victors, though, as the Braves will now be welcoming the Phillies into town for a 7:20 PM E.T. start on Thursday to begin a four-game series.