Are you a glass half full? Or glass half empty kind of person? If you are the half full kind, then you would say that the Dodgers accomplished what they needed to by earning a split of the first two games of their five game divisional playoff series at Atlanta. If you were a glass half empty kind you would say that the Dodgers missed a golden opportunity to crush the Braves by dropping game two. The real answer may lie somewhere in the middle, as a pivotal game three looms on Sunday as the series shifts to Dodger Stadium. The third game of the series victor will firmly be in the drivers seat. Although the Dodgers do have Clayton Kershaw for a game five if necessary so the Dodgers have the slight edge in my opinion.
Clayton Kerahaw-Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
The Dodgers five game playoff series against the Braves is now tied as we head into the first off-day of the postseason. There will be a media day tomorrow as both teams are supposed to have a scheduled workout on Saturday afternoon. However according to what I’ve heard, the Dodgers aren’t going to be having one. Though note the Braves will be having one. Mattingly snarkely replied that the club didn’t really need one. I don’t knoooooow.
But let’s take a quick recap of the first two games of the series that is now in the books.
Dodgers 6 Braves 1
The opening game of the series was a convincing victory for the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw rose to the occasion overcoming some early minor command problems to shutdown the Brave’s offense on one run on three hits through seven dominant frames. Kershaw settled down at one whiffing six in a row. Kershaw whiffed 12 overall, finishing with the third most whiffs in a playoff game for a Dodger of all time. Sandy Koufax whiffed 15 in the 1963 World Series, and Carl Erskine whiffed 14 in the 1955 World Series. And then there’s Kershaw.
The Dodgers hit and played defense very well, and there were no mistakes made on the base paths. Instead it was the Braves who were over eager, making several mistakes, and suffered from generally sloppy play. Left fielder Evan Gattis misplayed a slicing double from A.J. Ellis, diving and missing, allowing an extra base. Gattis then was doubled up off of first on a shallow pop fly from Elliot Johnson.
Which brings me to my next point, Yasiel Puig had a great postseason debut. The kid had two hits, and a great outfield assist to throw out Gattis who had misjudged the ball, possibly from what appeared to be a deke or fake out from Puig, who caught the ball with one hand.
The Brave’s second baseman E.Johnson also misplayed a grounder, which preceded an Adrian Gonzalez two-run home run. The Dodgers added a few more runs. The first run had scored on a Skip Schumaker sacrifice fly, and another on a Mark Ellis single up the middle. Hanley got a run scoring double, and A.J. had two doubles.
Kenley Jansen despite walking two in the bottom of the ninth, closed out the game in a non-save situation. The Dodgers won 6-1, and took a 1-0 series lead.
Braves 4 Dodgers 3
Minor pitched 6.1 effective innings, allowing just one run, and whiffing five. Greinke was matched every step of the way despite himself being very effective too. Greinke allowed just two runs on four hits through 6.2, while whiffing three and walking none. The Braves took a 2-1 lead on RBI hits from Chris Johnson, and Simmons.
Don Mattingly’s tactical blunders didn’t help anything. The questionable decision to intentionally walk Reed Johnson to pitch to Jason Heyward was met with much skepticism, and rightfully so. The lefty on lefty match-up Mattingly wanted so bad backfired on him, as Heyward got a hit up the middle to score two, and put the Braves up 4-1, as they would eventually win 4-3.
The Dodgers did plate two runs in the eighth, when M.Ellis walked, and Hanley hit a two-run home run into the left field corner. But it was too little too late. The Dodgers rolled the dice in the top of the ninth, after A.J. walked and was run for by Dee Gordon. The speedster tried to steal second and was thrown out. Although the replays showed he may have been safe. It was a borderline play, and looked pretty close. I thought he was safe, but the Dodgers didn’t get the call. Take a look at it above. Tell us what do you think?
Atlanta’s super closer Craig Kimbrel was called in to get a four out save after Hanley’s home run put the game within reach. Even though Kimbrel, like Jansen, walked two in the ninth, he still was able to finish the game and seal the win for the Braves to tie up the series. Kimbrel whiffed Crawford swinging for the last out.
The Dodger offense didn’t do them any favors either in game 2. They hit into three costly double plays. Juan Uribe whiffed with the bases loaded to end a rally in the top of the seventh.
Everything really came together to screw us out of the win in game 2. The Dodgers had so many chances, and left so many runners on base. You could say it was that bogus call on Gordon’s steal attempt, or Mattingly pitching to Heyward, or the offense grounding into three double plays, the Dodgers made similar mistakes to the ones the Braves made in game 1. Each team took advantage, and we have a series. The next two games will decide it all. However if the series goes five the Dodgers have the advantage, as they have Kershaw ready to go. No matter what at least we got the split. The Dodgers have the home field now for the next two games. We will prevail Dodger fans. All I know is the Braves have way too many Johnsons and Uptons.
Hanley and M.Ellis-Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Hanley is having a great series, and is already 4 for 9 with a home run, and four runs driven in
Mark Ellis has had a nice series so far as well, and is 4 for 7 with three runs scored.
Yasiel Puig is 3 for 8 in the series.
Ryu has faced the Braves twice this season, both resulting in no-decisions for the left hander. Ryu faced the Braves on May 17, turning in five frames, allowing two runs on five hits, with five whiffs, but five alks. But on June 7, Ryu turned in a gem, by tossing seven innings of one run ball, allowing just six hits, one walk, and whiffing six. The lefty has a 2.12 ERA against Atlanta. Ryu is 7-4 with a 2.32 ERA at Dodger Stadium.
Remaining Division Series schedule
Game 5-Wednesday @ Turner Field-Bluetober 9, 5:30 PM-TBA