And just like that, the woes of Atlanta fans continued as the Braves officially blew their 3-1 NLCS lead, losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3. The previous record of NLCS teams with a 2-0 lead in the series all-time was 28-3, an ominous callback to the Atlanta Falcons’ infamous choke job against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. The silver lining for Braves fans is that this team is young, and they have a bright future ahead of them.
Getting the start in this must-win game were two youngsters, the Dodgers’ Dustin May (23 years old, second year in MLB) and the Braves’ Ian Anderson (22 years old, rookie). Anderson could have been better, going three full innings and allowing two runs off of five hits. May only opened the game for LA, throwing one inning, while allowing one run off of one hit and two walks.
LA got off to a tough start early, as the Braves put runners on first and second before a Marcell Ozuna single drove in a run. Fortunately for them, a double play and a strikeout limited the damage to one. The next inning, Dansby Swanson welcomed LA pitcher Tony Gonsolin into the game by hitting a second-pitch bomb out to left field to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, the Dodgers were able to string together a couple hits, as a walk, a big double down the line from Max Muncy and a single from Will Smith tied the game up at two apiece.
The Braves struck back immediately, as an Austin Riley single brought in a run with no outs in the inning. More damage might have been done that inning, if not for a very bad baserunning error that turned a rundown fielder’s choice into a double play, stopping all momentum Atlanta might have had. They tried to get it back the next inning with a big fly ball from Ronald Acuña Jr., but a “routine” home run robbery by star outfielder Mookie Betts kept the lead at one.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, a pinch hitting appearance made LA manager Dave Roberts look like a genius, subbing in Kiké Hernandez for Joc Pederson. Hernandez proceeded to hit a solo shot to tie the game at 3-3. Later on in the 7th, the spotlight was on reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger, who hit a no-doubter solo home run to give the Dodgers the lead for the first time all night.
The Bellinger homer proved to be the last run all night, as three scoreless, hitless innings from Julio Urias kept the Braves’ offense at bay, helping the Dodgers close out a massive comeback en route to the World Series for the third time in four years. They are set to play the Tampa Bay Rays in a battle of No. 1 seeds starting Tuesday night.