Los Angeles Dodgers fans have now had a day to process, but many can't be feeling good about the Atlanta Braves marching into Chavez Ravine and making quick work of the hottest team in baseball. Sadly for the Dodgers, the month of August is over. Can't keep riding that magic with the calendar flipped to September.
In a humbling four-game series, the Braves came to Dodger Stadium and took the first three from LA in three very different contests. Atlanta staved off a surge from the Dodgers in the opener after they were leading 8-1 (they eventually won 8-7). Then, they cruised to a 6-3 victory behind a relentless offense and seven shutout innings from Max Fried. Then, in Game No. 3, they won 4-2 in extras, thanks to a three-run top of the 10th and Orlando Arcia's powerful bat.
They finally lost on Sunday by a score of 3-1 after they were handled by Bobby Miller. But even then, they made the Dodgers sweat. It was a 2-1 game in the seventh and they had the tying run in scoring position in the eighth.
The Dodgers couldn't even enjoy that victory, either, because Julio Urías was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence on Sunday night.
In all, the Dodgers scored just 15 runs in the four-game set. They had one quality outing with three of their best starters on the mound. They went 5-for-34 with runners in scoring position. Ronald Acuña made history on their home turf. The Braves won a series at Dodger Stadium for the first time in over 10 years.
Did Braves give Dodgers a disturbing October preview with series win in LA?
The Dodgers hadn't lost back-to-back games since July 23-24. They hadn't lost three in a row since June 16-18. After an August in which they were 24-4 up until the Braves came to town, they snapped both of those streaks. The best team in baseball took care of the hottest team in baseball.
Could this be a concerning October preview for the Dodgers, who have masked a lot of their deficiencies with a red-hot August nobody could dispute? There's no denying how good the Dodgers have been, but even before Urías' arrest, there was reason to question their roster holes heading into the postseason.
A 1-2-3 of Urías, Miller and Kershaw hardly seemed ironclad given Urías' inconsistencies, Miller's age, and Kershaw's health. Lance Lynn joined the fold after his resurgence, but confidence in his return-to-form abilities was put into question when the Braves rocked him for seven runs on seven hits and two walks across just 4.1 innings of work.
The Dodgers' seemingly unstoppable offense was dominated by Fried and Bryce Elder. In the final game of the series, Charlie Morton only lasted four innings, but the Braves limited the Dodgers to just three runs. The only outlier was the opener, when Spencer Strider allowed four earned runs over six innings and Atlanta's bullpen coughed up three more runs.
Meanwhile, the Braves offense totaled 33 hits and scored 19 runs compared to the Dodgers' 32 hits and 15 runs. The Dodgers worked 19 walks to the Braves' 11, but the difference was Atlanta's nine home runs to LA's five. The Braves also cashed in on run scoring opportunities, going 10-for-26.
This was a crucial series for the Dodgers to bridge the gap to make up ground on the NL's top seed, but it very much felt like a mismatch, with LA either working hard to dig out of a hole or being unable to come up clutch in plentiful situations.
We hope this isn't a sign of what's to come, but there's very much a difference between these two teams in regard to roster totality. The few holes the Dodgers have were evident against the NL East powerhouse, and LA has a month to figure it out as the baseball world prepares for this likely NLCS matchup.