The LowDown (NLDS): Dodgers Make Easy Work of Braves, Advance to NLCS

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Jill Weisleder/Los Angeles Dodgers

Game One

[THURSDAY] Hyun-Jin Ryu deals through a dominating performance in game one, shutting out the Braves and fitting quite well under the tag of ‘Game One Starter’.

Ryu was lights out for the Dodgers, tossing seven shutout innings while yielding only four hits to the youthful Braves lineup. Ryu had the strikeout pitch working in his favor as well, punching out eight batters in his outing. What a spectacular performance by Hyun-Jin Ryu, stepping up when the club needs him the most.

Ryu’s silencing of the Braves continued up through the bullpen, as Caleb Ferguson, Alex Wood, and Dylan Floro took the mound in relief of the starter. Ferguson handled the eighth and put an end to the inning with little to no resistance. The ninth was taken by Wood and Floro, and was shut down in only fourteen pitches combined. Wood recorded two outs but had also allowed two base hits. So, Floro trotted out to slam the door and seal the Dodgers their first postseason victory of 2018.

The Dodgers’ offense jumped on the Braves and their visibly shaky starter, Mike Foltynewicz early. Joc Pederson did what Joc Pederson does in the first inning: launches a lead-off home run. The big fly by Pederson was raised by Max Muncy in the second, who blasted a three-run shot off Foltynewicz to give the Dodgers a sizable 4-0 lead with the way Ryu was mowing down hitters. It wasn’t until the sixth inning that either team scored again. This time it was Kiké Hernandez tacking on another run with a solo homer. The Dodgers’ day on offense was wrapped up on eighth inning sac fly by David Freese, scoring Yasiel Puig. Even between all of this scoring, the Dodgers were hitting to the tune of a 1 for 7 (.142) average with runners in scoring position, leaving seven men on base. Luckily, it didn’t come back to haunt them, and the Dodgers strolled through game one.

Dodgers defeat the Braves, 6-0. (Dodgers lead NLDS, 1-0)

Player of the Game: Hyun-Jin Ryu

 

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Mikey Williams/Los Angeles Dodgers

Game Two

[FRIDAY] Clayton Kershaw tosses the best outing of his postseason career, giving the Dodgers a comfortable lead in the series and putting them on the doorstep of a ticket to the NLCS for a third consecutive season.

Kershaw powered through eight innings of shutout baseball, giving up only two hits while striking out three. The reason for such a low strikeout total is because Kershaw seemed to pitch to contact against the Braves. The bright side of that way of pitching showed up in the box score, as Kershaw only threw 85 pitches. He almost came out to polish off a complete game, but Dave Roberts played it safe with Tyler Flowers coming in to pinch-hit.

Since Kershaw held the Braves down for eight innings, the only pitcher to come on in relief was Kenley Jansen. Even in the thick of his roughest season, Jansen managed to shut the door on any chance of a comeback in the ninth, giving up only one hit and striking out one. Jansen received his first save of the postseason in the effort.

While the Dodgers’ offense wasn’t nearly as impressive as the night before, the Dodgers still had the home run ball working, blasting two homers against Atlanta. The first, swatted by Manny Machado for two runs on a 3-0 count in the first inning. The second, a solo shot rocked by Yasmani Grandal in the fifth inning. However, the Dodgers again struggled with hitting with runners in scoring position, finishing with a 1 for 6 (.166) line.

Dodgers defeat the Braves, 3-0. (Dodgers lead NLDS, 2-0)

Player of the Game: Clayton Kershaw

 

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Lucas Steveson/MLB.com

Game Three

[SUNDAY] Walker Buehler struggled early in his first career postseason start, but managed to bounce back with a fighting effort from the offense. Nonetheless, the Braves would take their first game of the postseason, and the first postseason win ever by a Braves team at SunTrust Park.

Buehler pitched five innings for the Dodgers, giving up five runs on two hits and three walks. The biggest blow was given up on a Ronald Acuna Jr. grand slam in the second inning. However, Buehler managed to settle back in and live through five innings. His ledger finalized with seven strikeouts to his credit.

The bullpen had more outs to get in this game than any other postseason game thus far, and didn’t do a horrible job recording them either. The only run forfeited by the bullpen was given up by Alex Wood on the very first pitch of his outing. The pitchers who followed, Ryan Madson, Pedro Baez, and Scott Alexander, combined to give up only one hit and one walk. Wood was credited with the loss.

Even with the loss, the Dodgers’ offense managed to erase a 5-0 deficit in a matter of three innings, launching a pair of home runs to make up three runs. The other two were collected in the third inning on an RBI single by Justin Turner, assisted by a fielding error that scored Chris Taylor from first base. The Dodgers have their worst night in the postseason yet with runners in scoring position, hitting to only a 1 for 9 (.111) clip. The team left nine runners on base.

Dodgers lose to Braves, 6-5. (Dodgers lead NLDS, 2-1)

Player of the Game: Justin Turner

 

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Lucas Steveson/MLB.com

Game Four

[MONDAY] Rich Hill pitched a decent game in his outing, assisting the Dodgers’ offensive efforts and securing the team’s third consecutive trip to the National League Championship Series against Milwaukee starting Friday.

Hill completed four and one third innings of work against the Braves, giving up a pair of runs on four runs and five walks. The walks seemed to be the biggest issue for Hill in what was overall a decent outing from a game four starter. Hill did not receive the win.

The bullpen had some work to do after a moderately short outing from Hill. In order, Ryan Madson, Pedro Baez, Caleb Ferguson, Kenta Maeda, and Kenley Jansen were summoned from the bullpen to finish matters from the fifth inning on. The Dodgers’ bullpen, excluding two hits yielded by Maeda, was perfect through the close of the game. Seeing Jansen back to tossing lights-out appearances is very promising, especially in the postseason.

Manny Machado really stepped up for the Dodgers in this one, posting four RBI’s on a three-run home run and a double. The other two Dodger runs were scored on a clutch RBI base hit by David Freese with runners on second and third. Watching the deadline acquisitions do exactly what they were brought in to do is a beautiful thing. The Dodgers finished hitting 2 for 6 (.333) with runners in scoring position, leaving eight runners on base.

Dodgers defeat the Braves, 6-2. (Dodgers advance to NLCS, win series 3-1)

Player of the Game: Manny Machado

 

Arrick Joel has covered the Dodgers since 2017, and for Dodgers-LowDown since 2018. Follow @ArrickJoel and @DodgersLowDown on Twitter for more.