NLCS Recap: Saturday, 10/23

There's a new National League champion in town!

Good morning, friends. The Atlanta baseball club is going to the World Series. What a sentence! Honestly, never thought I’d hear it, much less write it. But then again, I didn’t think Eddie Rosario would go Super Saiyan out of nowhere either. Life’s full of fun little surprises.

Before we move on, I’d like to formally retract everything I said in Thursday’s recap, as I was struck by a bout of pessimism. My doctor calls it post-traumatic Dodgers stress (PTDS), induced by years of seeing my favorite team repeatedly lose to the Dodgers in the most painful ways possible. Today, I’m happy to announce that I am officially free of this condition, and feeling better than Guillermo Heredia in a bouncy castle.

I’d also like to acknowledge that while this Atlanta team was not the most popular of postseason choices — even I picked them to lose, like, last week — baseball is random like that sometimes, and I genuinely believe it couldn’t have happened to a more fun group of individuals. I, for one, look forward to watching them compete in the World Series this week for the first time in my life.

But enough about me. Let’s talk Saturday’s best moments. Boy, were there plenty.

 

Atlanta 4, L.A. 2

While many around the country speculated on the Dodgers’ recaptured momentum in the series after Thursday’s Game 5 rout, the city of Atlanta was ready and eager to see its team have a chance to wrap the sucker up at home. Saturday night, that eagerness burst into a frenzy at Truist Park. But first, the home team decided to have a little fun with a certain condescending L.A. reporter who shall not be named:

Amazingly, even the players seemed to buy into this joke — as evidenced by Joc Pederson actually buying this shirt and posting it on Instagram:

The support for the home club was shared by some of the city’s other sports figures, including Trae Young of the Hawks and Hayden Hurst of the Falcons:

Whether that was actually a good omen for the team is another question, but it’s always nice to see a city come together. Meanwhile, the defending champs rolled in locked-in and stylin’:

In the first inning, Walker Buehler took the mound, starting a postseason game in Atlanta for the first time since the Ronald Acuña Jr. game back in 2018. You know the one. He didn’t look particularly sharp in this one, allowing three hits and the first run of the game on this Austin Riley double:

The score remained 1-0 for three innings, as Buehler settled in and Ian Anderson was able to overcome his first-inning troubles with a clean start. The rookie was able to get out of trouble in the third, but it caught up to him in the fourth, as a one-out walk to Trea Turner came around to bite him on this Cody Bellinger hit:

Just like that, we were tied. Still, Anderson was able to prevent further damage, and he looked to be in much better shape than in his ill-fated Game 2 start last weekend. But after Travis d’Arnaud drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the inning, manager Brian Snitker opted to pull his young right-hander for a pinch-hitter. It worked out, as said pinch-hitter — Ehire Adrianza — roped a double down the right-field line. Thus the stage was set for the man, the myth, the leyenda, Eddie Rosario.

I mean, what else can you say? He’s a man possessed right now. And yes, believe it or not, he was acquired for the ghost of Pablo Sandoval. Give that man a curtain call!

Did I mention it was loud in there?

Suddenly imbued with a three-run-lead and the confidence of a gambler whose number just hit, Snitker turned to his bullpen, now well-rested thanks to the off-day and Thursday’s blowout. A.J. Minter entered and tossed two perfect frames, with a little help from Riley and Freddie Freeman’s glovework:

On the other side, Buehler was also lifted for a pinch-hitter as Albert Pujols entered the game. Brusdar Graterol took the mound in the fifth and struck out a pair without allowing a hit in an inning and a third. But with Rosario, Freeman and Ozzie Albies due up, Dave Roberts decided to take him out in favor of lefty Alex Vesia, who promptly walked all three of them. He was replaced by Blake Treinen, who whiffed Riley to end the inning and prevent any damage.

This appeared to give the Dodgers a boost, as they turned around and broke through against Luke Jackson in the seventh, turning a leadoff double and a walk into a full-on rally with this swing from A.J. Pollock:

Naturally, that was Jackson’s last batter. His replacement? Walking firehose Tyler Matzek, who has been nothing short of sensational all postseason. He proceeded to strike out the next three Dodger batters, protecting Atlanta’s lead and ending the rally as quickly as it started.

Snitker returned to the well in the eighth, and Matzek rewarded him with three more outs, bringing his team within one inning of the World Series. Do you think he’s excited?

Unfortunately, the pitcher’s spot was due up first in the bottom half, meaning Snitker had no choice but to pull his ace reliever. Jorge Soler delivered with Atlanta’s second pinch-hit double of the night, and he advanced to third on a Rosario flyout, but they were unable to bring him home against Kenley Jansen. The Dodger closer worked out of the jam, giving his team one last chance to save their season in the ninth.

Unfortunately for them (but dare I say, fortunately for the rest of America), they did not capitalize. Will Smith entered the game looking as sharp as ever as he struck out Taylor and Bellinger. The fans seemed pleased with this development:

Pollock stepped to the plate as L.A.’s final hope, but he hit the ball right to Dansby Swanson, who made an excellent play, and… that was it. PANDEMONIUM.

Now watch this, and tell me you don’t get chills:

The ensuing celebration lasted most of the night, but if you’ve read this far, I’ll give you the highlights. First, a happy moment between two franchise cornerstones, Freeman and Snitker:

The fallen son, Acuña, was there too — and you better believe he was hyped:

Pederson shared the moment with his daughter:

And of course, who else but Heredia could cap it off?

Needless to say, Rosario was named series MVP. This photo tells you what it’s all about:

Now, on to the next.

The stage is set…

Who you got?

 

Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Wynn McDonald

Born a Kentuckian, much like Dan Uggla. Braves fan by choice, unlike Dan Uggla. I enjoy long walks on the Brandon Beachy. @twynstagram

  • theKraken says:

    Any team that uses Joe Kelly in a decisive game deserves to not only have their season end immediately but people need to get fired. LAD is super lucky that they got to play in as many games as they did considering their incompetent management. They have taken a dynasty on a silver patter and brought themselves all the way back to the pack. If MLB is ever going to dig itself out of its hole of mediocrity, then there needs to be accountability in LAD. I won’t be holding my breath on that.

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