Los Angeles Dodgers

Braves Strike First and Last in Game 1 Win Over Dodgers, Lead NLCS 1-0

The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen wilted late as the Atlanta Braves took Game 1 of the NLCS, 5-1, on Monday night at Globe Life Field.

League Championship - Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

What do you get when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?

A postseason paradox.

Both the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers entered their National League Championship Series matchup undefeated in the MLB playoffs. Inevitably something had to give.

Through eight innings both teams proved why they are the last two teams left standing in the National League. Dominant starting pitching and a blistering bullpen led to identical numbers on the scoreboard: one run on four hits.

Then Austin Riley stepped to the plate.

Riley did not have a single home run or RBI in his 23 plate appearances during the MLB playoffs. With one swing he had both.

Riley homered to lead off the ninth inning, and Ozzie Albies followed a few batters later with a two-run blast, and the Braves beat the Dodgers, 5-1, in Game 1 of the NLCS at Globe Life Field.

The Braves late offensive surge would be all Atlanta would need to beat the best offense in baseball on Monday night. Max Fried was fantastic for six innings, and the NL Cy Young Award candidate needed to be.

Atlanta lacks the starting pitching depth it's had in previous seasons, so Fried has become the de facto ace of the staff. Thus far in the playoffs, he's pitched like one.

Fried allowed just one run on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.

"Their pitching is really good," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts about the Braves. "Their plan was to spin us a lot more. You have to give Fried credit, he pitched well and their pen pitched well tonight. They made a couple mistakes and we didn't capitalize off them."

The $1.2 billion Globe Life Field allowed the fewest homers in all of MLB this season. In Game 1 it allowed four.

Freddie Freeman didn't care that the ballpark holds home runs. He belted a Walker Buehler fastball deep into the seats in right-center in the first inning to give Atlanta a 1-0 lead.

The best part about the blast however was the dozens of fans who feverishly fought over the ball for the first time in the year 2020.

League Championship - Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
Los Angeles Dodgers fans celebrate catching a foul ball off Enrique Hernandez #14 of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the seventh inning against the Atlanta Braves in Game One of the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 12, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Game 1 of the NLCS was the first game of the 2020 MLB season that fans were allowed to watch baseball live and up close. It was also the first time anyone outside of media and teams saw the new Globe Life Field.

Thus, it was a healthy mixture of Dodgers, Braves, and Rangers fans present on Monday night and admittedly it was nice to hear the chants of "Let's go Dodgers!" again.

However, it was the controversial Tomahawk Chop chant that echoed the loudest each and every time Atlanta homered.

The last time these two teams met in the postseason was in the NLDS in 2018. Los Angeles had the home field advantage in that series, now they're playing in the heart of Texas at a neutral site. Other than having the last at-bat in the bottom of the ninth, there wasn't much of an advantage for the team with the best record in baseball.

Buehler turned in 5.1 gallant innings, ducking and dodging his way around danger all night long, while simulteanously wearing the tightest baseball pants fans have ever seen.

Enrique Hernandez tied the game up with his seventh career postseason homer in the bottom of the fifth, but it was the normally reliable Dodgers bullpen that acquiesced to Atlanta in Game 1.

"We'll throw this one away and come back tomorrow with a fresh mind," said Hernandez.

Blake Treinen allowed the homer to Riley and was charged with three earned runs. Jake McGee entering in relief of Treinen couldn't stop the bleeding, surrendering the knockout blow to Albies.

Game 2 is on Tuesday night at 3:05PM PT.

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