Los Angeles Dodgers

Braves Walk-Off Again, Beat Dodgers 5-4 in Game 2 to Take 2-0 Lead in NLCS

Eddie Rosario knocked in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth, and the Atlanta Braves walked-off for the second straight game, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game Two
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Braves are just two wins away from the World Series.

But of course, we've said that before.

Eddie Rosario knocked in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth, and the Atlanta Braves walked-off for the second straight game, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

"They have had two big innings to take the lead, and the series could be flipped," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts of the Braves back-to-back walk-off wins in Games 1 and 2. "But, yeah, this is kind of how the series has played out and I think that both guys or both teams are in the same situation outside of the most important factor that they have got a two game to nothing lead."

A warm autumn day in Atlanta quickly turned into a cold and crisp autumn evening before first pitch. Fans poured into the ballpark to watch their beloved Braves, but by the time they got to their seats the Dodgers had already jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

Mookie Betts led off the game with a walk, and Corey Seager crushed a first-pitch curveball from Ian Anderson into the Braves' bullpen in right field for an early 2-0 lead.

Over the last two seasons, Seager has swung at the first pitch 52 percent of the time.

"The ball just wasn't coming out good," said Braves' manager Brian Snitker of Anderson. "The location wasn't good. You know what, this happens. It didn't matter that it's the postseason."

Just as consistent as Seager is at swinging at the first pitch he sees, so are Anderson's struggles in the first inning.

Anderson had a 6.38 ERA and allowed a high of 17 runs in the first inning this season for Atlanta.

"I just felt like it wasn't going to get any better," Snitker said of Anderson who only pitched three innings. "I said, it's okay. That happens. That's not a big deal. We'll tee it up again in four or five days."

Max Scherzer cruised through the first three innings of the game until he got thunderstruck by a former Dodger in the bottom half of the fourth.

The irresistible force paradox arises when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. That's essentially what occurred when red-hot Joc Pederson stepped into the batter's box against Scherzer with one out and a runner on first base.

Clutching his pearls, Pederson added to his "Joctober" lore when he crushed a hanging curveball into the second-deck in right field for a game-tying two-run home run.

"I was just looking for a pitch over the plate," said Pederson. "They have really good pitching and don't make too many mistakes, so just trying to capitalize on the opportunities that are presented."

The 454-foot homer was the longest of the 2021 postseason so far, surpassing Giants' slugger Darin Ruf's 452-foot shot against Julio Urias in Game 5 of the NLDS.

The homer was also the first home run allowed by Scherzer on a curveball since his very first start of the season on April 6, also against Atlanta. That home run came off the bat of Freddie Freeman. Freeman started the NLCS with a career-high seven consecutive strikeouts before he hit a sac fly in the bottom of the eighth.

"My arm was dead," said Scherzer of his start. "I could tell when I was warming up that it was still tired. I've been in this situation before. Usually in those situations kind of once you get past pitch 45 sometimes it loosens up and you're able to get deeper into a game. But after that 3rd inning it didn't loosen up. It was still more tightening up."

Chris Taylor broke a 2-2 tie in the 7th inning with a two-run double that gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead.

"I've been feeling pretty good at the plate the last week or so and I've just been trying to have good at-bats," said Taylor. "I think I did a good job of working the count."

Before Taylor could turn from zero to hero, first they had to break the Braves belief that the Dodgers were incapable of coming up with a clutch hit.

Prior to Taylor's two-run double, the Dodgers had left 14 men on base and were a combined 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position in the series.

"I think in this particular instance it's an approach thing," said Roberts about his team's struggles with runners in scoring position. "It's an approach thing and I think that certain times in scoring position we, we're expanding too much."

Overall, the first two games of the NLCS have featured a bevy of wasted chances for the Boys in Blue. The Dodgers went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Sunday, and are now just 2-for-18 in the series. They've left 17 men on base after the first two games.

So with two outs and the bases loaded, the Braves believed Taylor would do what the team had done for the better part of two games and strand the runners.

Instead, he blooped a ball into center field that was overrun by Guillermo Heredia and the Dodgers had their first hit with runners in scoring position of the game, and a two-run lead.

The lead would be short-lived as Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts opted for expected Game 4 starter Julio Urias out of the bullpen to pitch the bottom half of the eighth in favor of Brusdar Graterol or Justin Bruhl.

"We talked about it before the series. He hadn't thrown a bullpen and he was the best option at that point in time," said Roberts of his decision to use Urias. "He was prepared for it. It was a perfect spot for him, and getting him through that 8th to go to Kenley to finish the game."

The move immediately backfired as Urias struggled with command and his pitches.

Rosario led off the inning with a single off Urias, and tagged on a sacrifice fly by Freeman. Ozzie Albies, who scored the game-winning run in Game 1, followed with an RBI single that scored Rosario.

One pitch later, the man responsible for Saturday night's walk-off victory, Austin Riley, doubled off the wall in center to tie the game at 4-4. Urias would settle down to keep the game tied, but the damage was already done.

Rosario struck again in the bottom of the ninth. With Dansby Swanson on second, Rosario singled off the glove of Seager to score the game-winning run, giving the Braves their second straight walk-off victory.

"t's huge. It's very important for me. It's unbelievable for the team," said Rosario through a translator of the walk-off victory. "I think this is something that, you, know we all have that dream, that desire to get to the World Series and for me it's especially large and I think that's just what we're going for."

As I mentioned before, the Braves find themselves just two wins away from advancing to their first World Series since 1999. However, they've been in this situation before.

A year ago, Atlanta held leads of 2-0 and 3-1 over the Dodgers in the NLCS, only to lose Game 3 and then three consecutive games to send them home. That series was held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas because of the COVID-19 pandemic and played every day over seven straight days.

“We were up on them 2-0 last year, so it’s like one of those things where you can’t stop now, you got to continue to apply the pressure and come out every day and get after it,” said Riley.

In the history of the seven-game series in baseball, a team that wins the first two games has won the series 73 out of the last 87 instances.

Atlanta now leads the best-of-seven NLCS 2-0 as the series shifts back to Los Angles for Game 3 on Tuesday.

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