The opportunity was there. The Los Angeles Dodgers found a window despite swimming upstream throughout Game 6 of the NLCS.
In the top of the seventh inning trailing 4-1, LA’s offense came to life. The first three batters reached base, they scored a run, and there were runners on second and third for Albert Pujols.
Manager Brian Snitker removed reliever Luke Jackson from the game, though, and brought in lefty Tyler Matzek. In four pitches, he whiffed Pujols. One out.
Next up was Steven Souza Jr., who was pinch-hitting for Blake Treinen. Most Dodgers fans still don’t understand how he made the NLCS roster, and that concern was validated when he struck out looking on four pitches in one of the worst at-bats of the postseason.
But in truly devastating fashion, Mookie Betts one-upped him. The $365 million slugger came to the plate with two outs and runners on second and third with a chance to tie the game. He struck out on three straight fastballs.
Mookie Betts’ unforgivable at-bat played a large role in eliminating the Dodgers.
Looking at those first two? How? HOW?! They were fastballs! Down the middle! Hitting is an incredibly difficult task, but being that passive in the biggest plate appearance of the entire 2021 season is unforgivable.
We can expect a strikeout from Pujols, who is nearing retirement. We can expect a really bad at-bat from a guy who isn’t supposed to be on the team right now in Souza. But we cannot accept this kind of showing from the Dodgers’ highest-paid player. And his performance throughout this NLCS has left a lot to be desired.
He’s hit .174 with a .513 OPS.
There are many others to blame, though. Trea Turner has been awful. Corey Seager hasn’t contributed anything outside of his two homers. Will Smith fell off fairly quickly in this series.
But Betts faltering like that in such a situation after his overall lack of contributions hurt the most and we really don’t know how else to react.
The pitching held up its end of the bargain. Cody Bellinger redeemed himself after an all-time awful regular season. Chris Taylor was a sensation. Everybody else? Below average. Disappointing. Uninspiring. Lethargic.
Betts encapsulating that in the final at-bat that could’ve saved the Dodgers season makes it all the worse.