Two games down in the NLDS and the Dodgers are tied 1-1 with the Atlanta Braves after winning Game 1 and losing in heartbreaking fashion in Game 2.
The Dodgers stole home-field advantage in the series and head back to LA with a chance to end the series at Dodger Stadium with two victories.
After looking back at Games 1 and 2, we take a look at the biggest takeaways from the series so far:
Clayton Kershaw Can Pitch
Kershaw came into the series as the Dodgers ace and was looking to improve his 5.87 career postseason ERA.
Well, the Dodgers left-hander showed why he’s the best pitcher in baseball, striking out 12 in seven innings and only allowing one run. He struggled with high pitch counts in the first four innings before settling down and striking out nine of his last 11 batters.
Kershaw is slated to start Game 5, if needed; however, if the Dodgers go down 2-1 in the series he may be asked to throw Monday in Game 4.
Hanley Ramirez Can Hit
Playing in his first postseason, it took Ramirez four at-bats and six innings for his first playoff hit, but it came in the form of an RBI double off Jordan Walden.
Ramirez had no plans of slowing down as he went 3-4 with two doubles, a home run with three RBI in Game 2. He provided all the offense for the Dodgers and seems to be embracing the spotlight.
The Dodgers will need more than Ramirez to win the series, but look for him to continue his torrid pace. He became the first shortstop to ever have three extra-base hits and three RBI in a playoff game.
The Braves Are No Cupcake
After being shut down in Game 1 by Kershaw, the Braves could have thrown in the towel knowing they would have to face Zack Greinke in Game 2.
However, the Braves fought back in Game 2, highlighted by a strong start by left-hander Mike Minor and clutch hitting. The NL East champions scored each of their runs with two outs in an inning.
The Braves will send rookie Julio Teheran in Game 3 and veteran Freddy Garcia in Game 4, who will be looking to send the series back to Atlanta for a Game 5.
Don Mattingly Didn’t Let The Playoffs Change His Style
The Dodger manager continues to frustrate fans at times with his decisions. In Game 1, Mattingly elected to have third baseman Juan Uribe bunt with runners on first and second with no outs and a four-run lead. Uribe would get the bunt down, but Skip Schumaker was walked intentionally and the inning ended after consecutive strikeouts by A.J. Ellis and Kershaw.
Some questioned the decision to bunt Uribe, who had a single already in the game, especially with a comfortable lead.
In Game 2, Mattingly chose to bring in left-hander Paco Rodriguez to face left-handed batter Jose Constanza with runners on second and third and two outs. Cnostanza, who seemed to be sent out as a decoy to get a left-hander in the game, was quickly pulled for Reed Johnson. Mattingly then intentionally walked Johnson to get a left-handed matchup with Jason Heyward. The Braves center fielder promptly hit a two-run single up the middle putting the Braves up 4-1.
Mattingly’s reliance on same-handed matchups went for naught on this night and he may need to adjust for the future.
The Dodgers and Braves will send out their rookies in Game 3 with Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00 ERA) going against Teheran (14-8, 3.20 ERA). Game 4 pits right-handers Ricky Nolasco (8-3, 3.52 ERA since joining Dodgers) and Garcia (1-2, 1.65 ERA since joining the Braves).