Dodgers 3, Braves 1 – Buehler, dongs, defense and ‘pen force a Game 7

In a must-win game, the Dodgers did just enough to extend the NLCS to seven games with a 3-1 win against the Braves at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday afternoon.

The Dodgers got things going early on offense.

Corey Seager, the hottest hitter in the game at present, did his thing. That’s five home runs in this series alone for Seager. Feels good, man.

Justin Turner followed that up with one of his own. It was his first homer of the postseason. Here’s hoping it gets him on track.

In the fifth inning, well, I’m not sure I can put it into words better than this.

Mookie Betts, folks. He saved at least a run with that catch and some extra high-stress work for Walker Buehler. Cody Bellinger added an RBI single to put the Dodgers up 3-0 in the first inning.

Aside from the first inning, the Dodgers didn’t do much against Max Fried.

Sure, the Dodgers only had one whiff on 34 Fried curveballs, but they also had an average exit velocity of 80.6 MPH, which included Seager’s 100.4 MPH home run. Safe to say, they didn’t have anything on it.

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Speaking of Buehler, he turned in a solid performance when the Dodgers needed it most, despite not having his best off-speed stuff. His cutter/slider were inconsistent and he barely threw his curveball. Buehler’s final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 89 itches, 65 strikes.

He got into some trouble in the second, as he loaded the bases with no outs. He then proceeded to record two strikeouts and a ground out to get out unscathed.

And this was probably the strangest play of the game. It came in the fifth and benefited the Buehler and the Dodgers.

Chad’s not wrong, lest we forget the 2006 NLDS.

There was some consternation about taking Buehler out too early. I was OK with it, but also wouldn’t have been upset to see him out there to face 8-9-1 with a 3-0 lead. But his velocity had dipped in the previous two innings and he threw a lot of high-stress pitches. We also didn’t know the blister status at the time, and the Dodgers have been careful with Buehler all season. Dave Roberts turning it over to the bullpen made sense.

Of course, Blake Treinen gave up a first-pitch triple to Nick Markakis on a cutter, which only enraged Dodger Twitter. Cristian Pache grounded out to Turner and then Acuna hit an inside-out fly ball down the right field line for the Braves’ first run of the game. Treinen was then able to strike out Freeman and get awfully fortunate Ozuna didn’t punish a hanging slider to get out of the inning.

Pedro Baez was handed the eighth inning against the Braevs’ 4-5-6 hitters. He struck out Travis d’Arnaud, got Ozzie Albies to foul out and Dansby Swanson (3-for-3 against Buehler) to fly out harmlessly to right field. Petey good!

This all led to what you knew was coming — Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning. After a strong showing in last night’s win, Roberts entrusted the end of the game to Jansen once again (in an, admittedly, different scenario). He faced Austin Riley and Nick Markakis for a second straight day. He got Riley to line out to left field on a nice play by Joc Pederson, followed by a soft fly out to center field. Two pitches, two outs. Pablo Sandoval pinch-hit for Pache. Sandoval flied out to Pederson in left in a 6-pitch ninth-inning for the Dodgers. That bodes well for his availability for tomorrow.

The win evens the 2020 NLCS at 3. Game 7 will be on Sunday night. Ian Anderson gets the ball for the Braves. He’ll likely be opposed by Tony Gonsolin and anyone else not named Buehler. First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. Pacific time.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.