Atlanta Braves beat Los Angeles Dodgers to World Series
ATLANTA – Surely the thinking around town is gone, the Atlanta Braves would find a way, as usual, to blow it up.
Not this time (or at least not yet).
Atlanta, which didn’t break a record greater than 0.500 until August 6, improbably won the National League pennant on Saturday, when it beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2, in Game 6 of the National League championship series.
By beating the defending champions Dodgers four games to two, Atlanta has qualified for its first World Series since 1999. The final best-of-seven matchup this season begins on Tuesday, when Atlanta travels to Houston to face the Astros. , who won the American League Pennant.
We won’t know if Atlanta will be able to go all the way for at least a week. In a city, however, where playoff underperformance is about as common as flying with Delta Air Lines, Atlanta has already exceeded expectations.
Atlanta last reached the World Series when it had Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox in the dugout and longtime generational stars like Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine on its roster. This club is decidedly different, beaten at the start of the season by injuries, then renovated, not just modified, at the trade deadline. Indeed, some of the iconic Atlanta playoff moments came from players, including Eddie Rosario and Joc Pederson, who weren’t on the roster until July.
While much of the Atlanta playoff magic came in late – she won the first two games of this series with hits – the home team scored quickly on Saturday night.
With two strikeouts late in the first set, Ozzie Albies overtook Walker Buehler. Austin Riley worked a full count, as the crowd in a sold-out Truist Park began to erupt, and the young third baseman delivered with a graceful, fluid swing that sent the ball soaring towards the fence of the left field. He bounced off the warning track once before jumping off the wall for a brace, allowing Albies to score.
It wasn’t much, of course, not against an attacking power like Los Angeles.
The Dodgers, however, first battled Atlanta starter Ian Anderson and his change. Los Angeles didn’t have a base runner until third, when AJ Pollock doubled down through center. Anderson evaded the threat by getting a ball, a strikeout and a downed player.
Los Angeles had another chance in the next round. Trea Turner walked out with one out and Will Smith beat the quarterback with a right single. Chris Taylor, who hammered Atlanta on Thursday with three home runs in California, was struck out on the seventh pitch of his at-bat.
The problem with Los Angeles is that another threat is almost always lurking. The role, at that point, fell to Cody Bellinger, who delivered a left-field single to score Turner and tie the game. With runners in the first and third row, however, Pollock couldn’t find the kind of power he had enjoyed just a frame earlier; this time he came out to end the round.
Fast forward a few minutes. Atlanta’s first two hitters in the fourth were quick strikeouts. Travis D’Arnaud then walked and Atlanta announced that Ehire Adrianza would hit for Anderson, even though Anderson had only thrown 66 shots and allowed just three hits.
The doubts about the decision that were bubbling around Atlanta did not last. Adrianza doubled up on a cutter in the right corner of the field, where five-time Gold Glove winner Mookie Betts rushed in and shot towards the infield. Ron Washington, Atlanta’s third baseman, detained D’Arnaud before he could attempt to return home.
It was the kind of setup that could have gone down in Atlanta history as a missed opportunity, like yet another debacle in a city that had a dozen playoff spots between World Series appearances. Just a year ago, Atlanta had lost a three-game-one lead against the Dodgers in the NLCS. a Super Bowl.
As it turned out, all of the uncertainty on Saturday was just a prelude for Rosario. Buehler pulled a pair of 93 mph cutters. Rosario swung and missed both. A third cutter made a fault. A missed lead. Two more faults.
Buehler looked inside, one step away from ending his misery. Rosario looked out, a step from the opening of the game. The cutter returned.
Rosario did not fail. The ball rose higher, running along the first baseline and over the fence, sharply giving Atlanta a 4-1 lead. Buehler trailed until the end of the inning, but finished his outing with seven hits, four runs, six strikeouts and three walks.
Los Angeles, who added a second point in the seventh but didn’t score beyond it, intended to pitch Max Scherzer in Game 6, but withdrew because the right-handed ace said his arm had been “stuck in recent days.” Instead, the Dodgers turned to Buehler, who had last pitched on Tuesday.
Scherzer, according to thinking around the Los Angeles clubhouse, might be ready for Game 7. If they could have done it.
But, at least for now in Atlanta, that’s another place that will question it.
Scott Miller contributed report.