NLCS Recap – Thursday, 10/21

A.K.A. the Chris Taylor Game.

Folks, this could be a short one. As you may know, my favorite baseball team plays in Atlanta. Thursday night, said team put a rather dramatic damper on my dreams of seeing the first World Series of my lifetime, losing Game 5 of the NLCS in Los Angeles by a score of 11-2. Some may call it “the Chris Taylor game,” for reasons that you likely are aware of, and upon which I will soon be elaborating, much to my sadness, later in this article. Personally, I would call it the big poopy diaper game. Two sides of the same coin, I suppose.

In all seriousness, while the ghosts of last year’s 3-1 comeback by the Dodgers are actively haunting me, last night’s result was probably for the best in terms of overall entertainment value for the series. So that at least we can all appreciate. Now let’s get on with this, shall we?

 

L.A. 11, Atlanta 2

 

Fresh off Wednesday night’s 9-2 tee-off victory, spurred by the heroics of Eddie Rosario, Atlanta was riding high yesterday with a chance to close out the series. Entering Game 5, they had one of the game’s hottest pitchers on the mound in Max Fried facing off against a worn-out Dodgers bullpen. And a few hours before first pitch, they got some more good news: Jorge Soler, the team’s powerful leadoff man who’d been out since Oct. 12 for Covid protocols, was back.

Soler was not included in the starting lineup, as Rosario and Joc Pederson were too hot not to trot out, but he would make his first appearance of the NLCS off the bench later. Speaking of trotting hotly, how about these pre-game fits?

Personally, my favorites are Dansby Swanson’s flirty flannel and Cody Bellinger’s Snoopy shirt. But nobody could top L.A.’s bullpen starter, Joe Kelly, in style:

How would Kelly fare in the game itself? About that…

 

First-Inning Freddie

 

For a moment, it looked like Atlanta would pick up right where they left off with another big scoring game. That moment was tragically brief. But I did enjoy watching Freddie Freeman do this to put the Bravos up early:

Playoff slump who?? After a dreadful showing in Atlanta, that home run was Freeman’s sixth hit in three games in his home state.

Kelly was forced to exit a few batters later with a biceps injury, making the Dodgers dip into their “bullpen” even earlier than they’d hoped. But it worked out just fine for them, as former Atlanta pitcher Evan Phillips entered and threw one and a third scoreless innings. That brings us to the fateful bottom of the second, and the beginning of a long night of bad vibes for Atlanta.

 

Welcome to the Hit Parade

 

The second frame was the first indication that Fried did not have his best stuff working. After tossing a scoreless first, Max allowed hits to the first four batters of inning two—and two of them left the yard. With just two swings, A.J. Pollock and Chris Taylor turned the game on its head:

The Dodgers would send eight men to the plate in the inning, though Fried did manage to avoid further damage. But they added another run in the third on an RBI hit from Chris Taylor again. I wish I could say he stopped there.

By the time Fried exited the game in the fifth, he’d allowed four runs on eight hits, walked two, and was responsible for Albert Pujols at first base. Brian Snitker wisely opted to go with someone else to face Taylor the third time around. Not that it mattered, as you can see…

And just like that, the Dodger lead ballooned to four. It was around this time that America collectively stopped and thought, “wait a minute, I’ve seen this show before!”

Yeah, I don’t get it either, Cody.

 

Pouring it On

 

By the time Taylor came up again in the seventh, things were looking good for the home team, as the combination of Phillips, Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol, and Blake Treinen had held Atlanta scoreless since the Freeman homer. But Mr. Soldier Spy wasn’t done just yet. His third home run of the night gathered RBI no. 6 and 13 total bases, tying an MLB postseason record. I think that’s good.

At this point, Atlanta pretty much waved the white flag, saving their good relievers’ arms and going with rookie Dylan Lee and Jacob Webb for the final three innings. The latter had some trouble of his own in the eighth as the Dodgers did away with any remaining doubt with four more runs. The cherry on top was this mammoth homer by Pollock, his second of the night:

Webb wasn’t much of a fan of Pollock’s peacocking, but even I have to admit it was well-earned. Maybe next time don’t give up a three-run homer, Jake. Plus, this is a hard-a** photo.

And that was it—tally two for the Doyers. See you in Atlanta, baseball fans. Definitely feel confident and not at all succumbing to a gnawing sense of repeated trauma-based dread. Should be a fun time!

 

Game 6 will be on Oct. 23 @ 5:08 p.m. ET at Truist Park in Atlanta, airing on TBS.

 

Photo by Peter Joneleit/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

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