With their season on the line against the Braves in Game 5 of the NLDS, the Dodgers got off to a slow start and looked like they were about to get buried after two innings. However, they responded in a big way, rallying late in a 7-3 victory.
Without a fifth starter, the Braves were forced to go with a pen game, having reliever A.J. Minter make his first career start. He retired the first two hitters to start, but then allowed a double to Justin Turner before rebounding with a strikeout to prevent any damage.
Minter then closed by getting the last seven Dodgers he faced, ending up with three shutout innings, giving up just the one hit and striking out seven.
Dustin May was effectively the opener for the Dodgers and he scuffled a bit, though not all through his own doing. With one down in the 1st, Freddie Freeman grounded a ball down the line that hit off Max Muncy‘s glove on a play he should’ve made for a double. Will Smith compounded that with a passed ball to move him to third. After a walk, Travis d’Arnaud made the Dodgers pay for their mistakes with a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0 before May was able to get out of it with a strikeout.
The 2nd inning was on May, as he issued a walk to start and later gave up a one-out hit-and-run single to put runners on the corners. Cristian Pache then followed with a single of his own to make it 2-0 before he was able to get out of it.
In a bit of a surprise, Dave Roberts turned to Joe Kelly in the 3rd and things started ominously when he allowed back-to-back singles to Marcell Ozuna and d’Arnaud to start. After a ground out that advanced both runners, Mookie Betts rushed in to catch a fly ball in right that seemed to score Ozuna from third on a sac fly. However, on review it was clear that Ozuna made an odd baserunning mistake, leaving way early resulting in the Dodgers escaping with no damage.
Blake Treinen entered for the Dodgers in the 4th for Joe Kelly and got consecutive 1-2-3 frames to give the Dodgers some time.
Tyler Matzek replaced Minter in the 4th, and the first batter he faced was Corey Seager, who welcomed him with a solo shot to cut the lead to 2-1.
After Matzek got one batter in the 5th, Shane Greene entered and got the rest of the frame. Greene continued in the 6th and allowed a single and a stolen base to Mookie Betts. With one down, Justin Turner grounded out, and Mookie got caught in a rundown so JT exchanged places at second with him.
Will Smith entered for Greene, and immediately walked Max Muncy to extend the inning, then gave up a three-run dong to Will Smith on a 3-2 count to provide the spark the Dodgers needed and put them ahead 4-2 all of a sudden.
Yes, he won the the battle of Will Smith.
In the 7th, the Dodgers rallied again, this time off Jacob Webb. After two strikeouts to start, Chris Taylor doubled and Betts singled to drive him in. On the very next pitch, Seager stayed red-hot and destroyed a ball to right for a two-run homer and a 7-2 lead.
That left things to the Dodgers pen, who turned to Pedro Baez in the 6th and got a 1-2-3 inning. He also started the 7th, but was relieved by Victor Gonzalez after a single. Victor then allowed a walk as well, but he then induced a double play and got a fly out to escape. He was not as fortunate in the 8th, as he started by allowing a double and it knocked him out of the game.
Brusdar Graterol entered and rebounded from his last outing, getting a fly out to advance the runner to second, a ground out to score him and make it 7-3, then a strikeout to prevent a rally.
That left things to Kenley Jansen, who understandably had people concerned. But he carved right through the Braves hitters in the 9th, at one point getting a 93 mph cutter on the black, striking out the side on 12 pitches to end it.
Hey … Game 6, folks.
Another elimination game tomorrow at 10:38 AM HST/1:38 PM PST/4:38 PM EST. Walker Buehler against Max Fried.