Sports

Braves Absolutely Blew Chance To Take A Commanding NLCS Lead

Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he hits a 3-run home run during the 8th inning of Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium on October 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

 

The Los Angeles Dodgers were losing 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning in their duel against the Atlanta Braves.

It was Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, and the Braves had won the previous two in Atlanta.

Losing Tuesday night’s affair in Los Angeles would have been a significant blow for the Dodgers, one that they would have had a really hard time coming back from.

Only one team in the history of the MLB postseason has been able to win a best-of-seven series after dropping the first three games: the 2004 Boston Red Sox did it against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series, and they went on to win the Fall Classic, too.

Fortunately for the Dodgers, the Braves blew a golden opportunity to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the NLCS.

The bottom of the eighth was a nightmare for the Braves.

 

A Terrible Inning For Luke Jackson

Luke Jackson, who had been very reliable during the regular season with a 2.01 ERA and went seven outings without allowing a run since September 30, completely unraveled.

He took the mound in the eighth and immediately allowed a hit to Will Smith.

The struggling Justin Turner popped out, but AJ Pollock’s single put men on first and second with one out.

Then, the crowd went crazy after Cody Bellinger, the man who hit .163 during the regular season, hit a high 96-mph fastball into the right-center stands to make it a tie game.

It was perhaps one of the most important home runs in the Dodgers’ history.

After Chris Taylor singled, manager Brian Snitker finally removed Jackson from the game.

But Los Angeles’ rally would not end there.

Taylor stole second base and advanced to third on Matt Beaty’s groundout.

At that specific moment, the Dodgers were one hit away from taking the lead in the game.

Thankfully for them, the best possible matchup came to bat: Mookie Betts.

Against right-hander Jesse Chavez, Betts deposited the first pitch he saw into the right field gap, driving in Taylor with the run that put the Dodgers on top, 6-5.

After an intentional walk to Corey Seager and a Trea Turner infield single, the inning finally ended: Smith popped out to shortstop Dansby Swanson.

 

The Dodgers Went From Dead To Still Very Much Alive

Kenley Jansen struck out the side to end the Braves’ hopes to extend their NLCS lead to 3-0.

Imagine this: Atlanta was six outs away from putting the Dodgers with their backs against the wall, 0-3 and with no room for error.

Instead, they are now down 2-1 and with the chance of tying the series on Wednesday.

It’s amazing how baseball turns out, and it’s easy to wonder what would have happened if Snitker had a quicker hook on Jackson and protected that three-run lead with more passion.

They are all hypothetical, impossible to predict scenarios, but giving the Dodgers life could come back to haunt the Braves.

Los Angeles won 106 games in the regular season, beat a team that won 17 straight games in September in the Wild Card Game (the St. Louis Cardinals), and then ousted the best team in MLB by record, the 107-win San Francisco Giants.

From now on, the series is wide open.



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