Southern California is abuzz as the Dodgers defeated the Atlanta Braves 4-3 Monday night to advance to the NLCS where they will face either the St. Louis Cardinals or the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Dodgers offense outscored Atlanta 26-14 in the four game series, while Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke have formed a devastating one-two punch for the Dodgers in the playoffs.
The two aces combined for a 1.42 ERA in three games as there were several memorable moments in the series. Fantastic pitching, timely hitting and a record setting offensive performance on Sunday night. Let’s take a look back at the exhilarating series between the Dodgers and the Braves.
The series opened in Atlanta on Thursday night with Braves’ starter Kris Medlen striking out the Dodgers in order in the first inning. From there, it was all Dodgers. The Dodgers manufactured two runs in the top of the second on a Skip Schumaker sac fly and an A.J. Ellis double. Adrian Gonzalez homered in the top of the third to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead, while Mark Ellis had an RBI single and Hanley Ramirez had an RBI double to give the Dodgers their six runs. Every Dodgers starter collected a hit in the game except Schumaker.
Clayton Kershaw was brilliant, although, he labored on the day. Kershaw threw seven innings of one run ball while striking out 12 Atlanta batters. By Kershaw’s standards he wasn’t very efficient throwing 124 pitches with three walks. Despite the rough outing by Kershaw, he got himself out of jams in vintage Kershaw fashion and with some run support, he never appeared to be in major trouble.
Zack Greinke and Mike Minor were locked in a pitcher’s duel Friday, but the Dodgers’ bullpen unraveled and Minor and the Braves came out on top. The Dodgers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead thanks to an RBI double from Hanley Ramirez in the first inning. The Braves would tie the game on an Andrelton Simmons’ double in the second inning and take the lead in the fourth inning on a Chris Johnson single that scored Freddie Freeman after his lead-off double.
The real damage was done to the Dodgers’ bullpen in the seventh inning. Chris Withrow came into the game to relieve Greinke (6 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 0 BB) and promptly walked Brian McCann to lead off the inning. After a Chris Johnson single, Withrow got the next two outs, when Don Mattingly replaced him with Paco Rodriguez after Jose Constanza was announced as a pinch hitter. The lefty Constanza was subsequently pinch hit for by switch hitter Reed Johnson.
Rodriguez would intentionally walk Johnson (hitting right handed) to bring up Jason Heyward, a lefty. Heyward promptly singled into center field off of Rodriguez to score two runs and give the Braves a 4-1 lead.
However, Ramirez would homer off of Braves’ reliever David Carpenter in the eighth to make it 4-3 Braves. However, Carpenter would strike out both Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig before giving way to Atlanta’s all-world closer, Craig Kimbrel, who recorded a four-out save. Minor got the win pitching 6.1 innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts and only allowing one walk.
Next Page: Click here for recaps of Games 3 and 4