Dodgers 4, Braves 3

The Dodgers didn’t go 43 – 17 for nothing. Cody Bellinger‘s solo homer in the bottom of the 7th was the difference in the game and the series.

The Braves had a couple of chances to break it open early but could not convert. Dustin May was a workaholic for the Dodgers, getting his second start in 3 days, but he started the game wild, walking Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman on the game’s first 8 pitches. A Marcell Ozuna single made it 1 – 0 Braves, but a Travis d’Arnaud double play ball helped limit any further damage.

Tony Gonsolin relieved May in the 2nd, and it didn’t take long to prick the Gonsolin bubble as Dansby Swanson hit his 3rd pitch for a home run. Swanson to bleachers – no chance.

In a season so bullpen dependent that 4 innings could be considered an Atlanta Quality Start, it’s appropriate that Ian Anderson was only able to give the Braves 3. The Dodgers worked Anderson for 47 pitches through the first 2 innings. He got 2 quick outs in the 3rd, however, but could not close it out. Anderson walked Justin Turner, then Max Muncy doubled, and Will Smith hit a 2 run single to tie it.

Gonsolin got into more trouble in the 4th, walking Ozzie Albies and Swanson to start the inning, then surrendering an RBI single to Austin Riley on a 0 – 2 pitch. Blake Treinen relieved, and after a wild pitch moved the runners to 2nd and 3rd with nobody out, the Braves ran themselves out of the inning. Nick Markakis hit a sharp grounder to the only fielder on the left side of the infield, and Swanson was running on contact. Dansby tried to stay in a rundown long enough for Riley to take 3rd, but Austin hesitated, and the resulting double play left a runner on first with two out. In the 5th, Freddie Freeman was robbed of most likely a solo home run by Mookie Betts for one last bit of frustration.

Game 7 was one bridge too far for the seemingly magical Braves bullpen. They allowed 5 hits and 2 runs in 5 innings, but it was not good enough. A.J. Minter came on in the 6th and was immediately greeted by an Enrique Hernandez home run to tie it. Chris Martin came on to get the final out of the inning, and seemed to be cruising in the 7th before allowing the two out homer to Bellinger.

Treinen, Brusdar Graterol and Julio Urias combined to hold the Braves hitless the final 6 innings; Urias closing it out with 3 perfect innings.

At Philadelphia April 1st.

Author: Rusty S.

Rusty S. is a Braves Journal reader since 2005 and an occasional innings-eater. It was my understanding that there would be no expectations.

44 thoughts on “Dodgers 4, Braves 3”

  1. Thank you Rusty and all the recappers during the season. You keep making Braves Journal the best place on the internet.

    The outcome is very disappointing but this has been a real fun season.

    Go Braves.

  2. As much as I hate myself for getting attached to this stupid choking team, I also want to echo Timo’s comment and thank the recappers and the guys behind the scenes that keep the site going. I definitely spent too much time here lately, but it was a much needed distraction, especially this year.

    Stay safe, and best wishes to everyone.

  3. I wouldn’t call it a choke job but we are exactly one Mike Soroka away from being in the World Series. Ian, Kyle and Bryce all overachieved big time to get to where we are. Without Hamels, with Folty and Newcomb completely disappeared, what this group has achieved (which is more than any Braves team since 1999) is unbelievable. 1991 felt a lot more worse than this.

    In AA I trust. We will be back and we will be back being even better than before.

  4. Being a long-time lurker here, I want to thank you guys for all the great content and discussions.. too bad the season had to end here, it ended up being a great one, hugely appreciated in this strangest of years.

    Btw, I just realized something: Being from Germany, where most games run from 2 to 6 am approximately, it’s always a bit difficult for me these days to watch them all, even more so during the week obviously. So for the NLCS, I ended up only checking in the morning how it went from Games 1-5. I then watched Gm.6 and the second half of Gm.7 (getting up at 4 am and staying up to go to work).
    So what happened was that the series as a whole and Game 7 totally mirrored each other. The Braves were up 3-2 (by games and by runs respectively) once I started watching, and ended up losing both the series and the final game 3-4.
    Probably shouldn’t add this to my inner list of superstitions though, otherwise I can’t evet watch Braves baseball again…

  5. @3 – Sure , 1991 stings more because that was the last step on the mountain to climb. There was always the chance the rays could beat us this year. I’m gonna be quite disappointed if they get clobbered by the dodgers.

    The overachieving part is what worries me; we’ve seen the last of Folty ,don’t know if Newcomb starts/relief/or is worth a damn. The youngsters all lost a year of development time and we still don’t know what the situation will be like in the minors next year. Touki has to show up. Wright has to avoid turning back into a pumpkin. Ian has to see if the league will catch up to him. Fried has to have another great year. Soroka has to come back as he was, after nearly a year without pitching. We don’t know if Wilson will be any good.
    Only other guys close are Muller and Weigl and Walker.
    All of these guys will have to go for 162 games+ with no injury.

    Ozuna probably won’t be back, TDA has a long season ahead of him, Freddie , Acuna (and everyone else) have got to grind a full season and not get hurt at the worst possible moments.

    That’s a whole lot of “ifs” that have to go right, and then comes the crapshoot of the playoffs. Bottom line, this was a golden opportunity with no guarantees of a repeat, that’s why I call it a choke. 5 runs in three games after Ozuna’s blunder, when they had ample opportunities for more is unacceptable.

    Maybe if Soroka is here, we win.
    Maybe if there are days off as in normal playoffs, we win.
    Maybe if we are playing in the real home/away ballparks, we win.

    This sucks. Pretty much the bullpen is the only thing that I consider will remain good. Can’t say that I trust AA or ownership completely as of now. I so wish we had a ted turner/ arthur blank/ or ownership group a la dodgers and not the faceless monolith known as liberty media tightening the purse strings. We’ll see what winter brings.

    Oh, and on offense,
    Acuna, fix your wrist
    Albies, inprove plate discipline
    Riley, improve obp and approach
    Neck, bye

  6. @4 …. come one, come all…

    Rusty, thank you.

    they had more people than us, up and down the order, who can hit the ball hard….

    they also had Urias in their pen to get the last nine outs, the final three identical weak ground balls to the short stop while the difference remained at just one…

    no complaints, we need to get better, but we were still marvelous value to enjoy all season…

    Base Running 101… a suggestion for the New Year.

  7. This is a tough pill to swallow, so many missed opportunities… And even though it is hard not to see a pattern here, and even though I am as disappointed as the next guy, I am still proud of this team. I enjoyed this season as much as any, and given what happended to our starting pitching, the team did overperform, IMHO. More importantly, I see nothing but a bright future for this team, where Acuna, Albies and Dansby will only get better, Freddie will still be in his prime, and three legitimate young aces will head our pitching staff, with Wilson and Wright not too far behind. Key will be to extend Freddie and to keep the bullpen together at a reasonable cost.

  8. @5, you’ve hit my thoughts closely. Remember when Ron Washington’s Rangers were one out from winning the World Series? That franchise hasn’t even come close to sniffing the WS since. It may be a long time until the Braves are ever one win away from a pennant. They squandered a golden opportunity.

  9. This was an amazing season, the Braves battled through all sorts of issues, but Snitker guided them through it, we got to a sun away from the WS,
    And lost to a team that had a 717 win percentage, I am upset about baserunning errors, but not about the season, or about the future.

  10. Like many have said, if you would have told us that when Soroka went down we would be playing in Game 7 of the NLCS with a lead in the 6th I think we would have taken that at the time. What we didn’t know was that Duvall would get hurt, we would make a couple of baserunning mistakes and fail to drive in runners in scoring position with less than two outs and let the series kind of get away from us with a 2-0 and 3-1 lead. All in all this was a great season and I am optimistic we will make some upgrades where we need to and stabilize the rotation where it was a lot of bubblegum and duct tape after Soroka’s injury.

  11. Alex, that’s a depressing song, even by Lou Reed standards. Perfect for today, when I’m feeling as depressed by a sports loss as I have in a long time. I really believed.

  12. @10, the thing that bugs me about that take is it doesn’t account for us being up 3-1 at one point. Losing Game 7 to the Dodgers is an acceptable outcome in a back-and-forth series. Losing Game 7 when you were up 3-1 is hard to accept.

  13. I avoided this blog the last couple days because it hurt too much realizing the inevitable. I will love my Braves till I die. We’ll go get em next year.

    Thanks to all you guys who write on here. It’s so refreshing to see your passion for the team I love and I get to read your thoughts, predictions, scouting reports, and overall just the raw rants. Great place to be.

  14. Grant McAuley posted his Braves misery index on Twitter, so here is mine

    1 1991 World Series
    2 1996 World Series
    3 2012 Wildcard Game
    4 1997 NLCS
    5 2005 NLDS
    6 2019 NLDS
    7 2020 NLCS
    8 2010 NLDS
    9 1993 NLCS
    10 1998 NLCS

    Notable omissions:
    2011 Regular Season collapse (would rank highly if I considered it eligible for this list)
    1992 World Series
    1999 World Series

  15. The ghost of Lonnie Smith reappears in the form of Austin Riley. We should be happy for accomplishing so much with so much adversity. Now, replace Ozuna’s bat, get a mid-rotation arm and re-sign Melancon.

  16. I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance. –Garth

    I’m always going to cheer for my Braves. And I think this collection of players did an INCREDIBLE job this year. You could see a team on fumes in Game 7. The reason why you felt like the game was over even as we went into the 9th with Ozzie batting RH, Dansby having already homered in that game and due up, and home run-threat Austin Riley due up 3rd is that the team just seemed cooked. That’s what the Dodgers will do to you. And it was a miracle this collection of players was even in Game 7 with one swing of the bat away from tying it.

    But is this what we expected when they tore the team down in 2014, 6 long years ago? Is this what we expected when we lost 95, 93, and 90 games for? The answer to that is no, so I do not give Liberty Media, John Hart, John Coppolella, and AA a passing grade for where we are when we ripped the team down to the studs. We should be farther along 6 years into this, bottom line.

    With that said, we will be better next year. We lose only Ozuna from the position player side, and we can figure that out. I can’t remember if Nick has another year on his deal, but I don’t care. He gone. Acuna, Ozzie, Dansby, Riley, Pache, and maybe even Camargo will probably all continue to get better. Soroka will be back, Fried is Fried, Anderson will continue to get better. The bullpen returns the bulk of its value.

    The GLARING issue I see is what the heck Atlanta does with this squirrel’s nest of pitching. Newcomb, Folty, Wright, Wilson, Touki, Ynoa, Davidson, and Weigel have collectively put Atlanta in a really tough position where you have SO MANY uncertain pieces to the puzzle. If through trade, commitment, or firing them into the sun, they make the correct decision on these pitchers, we will beat the Dodgers or whoever we see WHEN we are in the NLCS next year, not if. But if we keep wasting a Matt Wisler and a Lucas Sims and they find success elsewhere, and then we go spend precious dollars on a Chris Martin or Will Smith or a Cole Hamels, then we won’t get over the hump.

  17. Ironically, at least in terms of our chances to win the whole thing, I kinda now think the people I was making fun of on Thursday and Friday were probably right to a certain extent. We could’ve (and probably should’ve) found a way to win an NL pennant last night, but I’m not sure how our prospects in the World Series would’ve looked with Acuna unable to drive the ball, Freeman dealing with whatever the hell he did last night injury-wise, our pitching rotation shot to hell (Wright and Wilson pitching the first two games of the World Series…well, it wouldn’t have inspired confidence) and our bullpen equally shot to hell.

    Game 5 wasn’t a “must-win” in terms of “if we don’t win this game, the Dodgers have already won the series despite being still down a game.” That remains silly IMO, because it ignores that we should’ve won last night. But if we were going to have as good a chance as possible against Tampa Bay, being able to rest Acuna and our listing bullpen for three full days, being able to reset our pitching rotation and not getting Freeman injured probably would’ve been necessary.

    And yes, maybe I’m rationalizing. It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have rather gone ahead and won the pennant last night and rolled the dice with all of that this week. Even if we weren’t gonna win the World Series (which we don’t know…and though I didn’t follow the ALCS closely, I’m sure the Rays have issues coming into this week, too), it’s still a big missed opportunity.

  18. @17 I would argue that Ozuna’s sac fly tag up mistake was the real lonnie smith moment. That one took an actual run off the board and turned it from 3-0 lead with two on and two out , to a 2-1 game on the very next pitch. That took the wind out of their sails the rest of that night and the series.

    The swanson-riley play was terrible, yes, but swanson didn’t really do a good job in getting the rundown away from 3rd base. If Riley ran there earlier, they were just as likely to tag him out first, then Swanson for the DP. If Riley stays at 2nd base, he still doesn’t score on Acuna’s groundout. Maybe Freddie gets him in with 2 out,we’ll never know.

    Side note: Could Acuna have caught the HR right after the Ozuna mistake, where Pache got no elevation off the wall and just missed it? Maybe? Who knows how the series goes if Duvall doesn’t go down. Oh, and that is not a knock at all on Pache, the kid played great for someone who wasn’t given a chance all year.

    Acuna hitting around .130 with 1 rbi and no homers since the Marlins hit him and he tweeted about it is possibly what killed the postseason, as Freddie did last year. Yes, Ronald took a few walks, but if we get any contributions close to what he usually brings to the table, this series would have had a different result. Injuries suck.

    @8 correct, the best example you can give there are the texas rangers

  19. @22 We don’t know the extent of their injuries. And for what it’s worth, you do get a day off between the NLCS and the World Series. That would have helped everybody reset and rest a little.

    I don’t know about “must wins” and all that, but the Dodgers won 3 games that we probably could have and should have won. I don’t care what people tell me, I think Kyle Wright’s issues are probably between the ears, and I don’t know if my team should give him the requisite level of innings necessary for him to maybe become a major league pitcher. So losing Wright’s start was not a game I was optimistic about. But 5, 6, and 7 were all very winnable games. And if we won just one of them, we’d be in the World Series. That’s a collapse.

  20. On the brighter side, bref has been running a sim 162 game season and the the alternate reality Atlanta lost to the Brewers in the one game wildcard after the Nats took the division by 6 games. They are now up to game 2 of the World Series between the Indians and Cardinals (yuck). Of course they also had Alex Wood as a 20 game winner, so…..

    Just saying, things could have been much worse.

  21. I said after we went up 2-0 that it was all uphill from there, and unfortunately that’s how it played out. I’ve so proud of this team for what they accomplished, and even if they never get to this point again, it was a good ride as a fan.

    Thank you all for another amazing year. The writers and commenters here remain the best in the land, and my experience would be a lot emptier without you all.

  22. It was an incredible season. We fell just short of the World Series – think about that. I don’t know about you but I’ll take it. We’ll be even better next season, and are positioned to be for a long while. This team made me proud to be a Braves fan.

  23. Acuna, TDA, Riley, Neck , and Pache hit a combined .177 , and it’s not like the others were tearing the cover off the ball (except for Ozuna in game 4).
    It was a small miracle to be up 3-1 with timely hitting and HR’s.
    These things went away the last 3 games

    What if TDA fly out goes 2 feet further out for a 3 run HR in game 5.
    What if Freddie isn’t robbed by mookie.
    What if the ozuna sac fly play isnt caught by mookie.
    What if Duvall isn’t hurt.
    What if Pache catches the wall scraping HR in game 5.

    So close yet so far.

  24. Miracle that season even happened, miracle that we won the division, amazing, 1 run away, even if we had the gaffs, was just such a great run to witness.
    And the Astros lost which I enjoyed.

  25. @23 Couldn’t disagree more, Ozuna was looking through a forest of bodies and legs at the play in RF, while Riley missed the first day of Little League practice where you were told with less than two out and the guy in front of you in a rundown, get to the next base.

  26. @30 I was looking at it more from the point of view of which play was more damaging to the win probability.

    Ozuna had no reason to jump off the bag like that, then keep watching, then run towards home. That was an actual run cost and then a momentum changing HR seconds afterwards. I’m unsure if Ron Washington gets a bit of the blame there if the line of sight situation was so bad. The ball hung up there quite a while, they had time to get their act together.

    I’ve looked at the Riley play from a few angles and there is no guarantee that he wouldn’t be thrown out at third and dansby tagged out there as well.
    Even if Riley survives, no guarantee the braves bring him home, since all season RISP has been suspect, especially so in those last 3 games.

  27. Thank you all for another amazing year. The writers and commenters here remain the best in the land, and my experience would be a lot emptier without you all.

    Goes for me, too. Thanks to all of you.

  28. If you are interested in offseason writing and are not in our GroupMe chat, shoot me an email and I’ll get you situated: cothrjr at gmail dot com.

  29. Overall, a great season considering what shook out with the starting rotation. I felt that Snitker deserves a lot of credit for winning the division with 1/5 of a SP rotation.

    I thought the decision to go with an opener to be a catastrophic strategic error, even if I guess that there weren’t a bunch of better alternatives. The decision to play Markakis at all was also bad. It’s rare that a player is as done as he is that gets that much playing time. Too much loyalty was there, IMO.

    I knew all along that the Dodgers would win the series as they were by far the better team and IMO it’s not even really close. They have 5 SPs better than any pitcher we have outside of Fried.

    I was blessed to play on the 90s version of the Dodgers in AL HS baseball and from experience, the worst thing that can happen to a team like that is to be shocked and awed and frankly embarrassed. I knew based on how that transpired that it would wake them up in a major way and they would come back and win the series.

    The biggest takeaway IMO from this season is that the Braves need to be MUCH better about evaluation and projection of young players and that they need to stop playing old worn out finished players over young guys.

  30. Frankly, I was spent after Saturday. 2 hard losses to take in only 8 hours. I could not even watch the game last night (even though I had the updated box score going on the lap top.) When they tied it up 3-3 (and with the way we’d been swinging the bats the last few nights) I knew it was about over. No curse mentality. No fatalism. Just looking at reality. The Dodgers may not be the better team, but they are most certainly the more balanced team.

    With everything we dealt with this year – Freddie’s Covid positive just before the season started, Albies out for a month, massive amounts of Ks throughout the season and a continual problem getting guys in from scoring position with less than 2 outs even with our eventual offensive numbers and most assuredly what happened to the pitching staff – it really is amazing we came that close to going to the World Series. It’s too bad, but hey…it wasn’t the Nats, Marlins, Mets or Phils going instead of us so we can take that pleasure.

    And now, all I can do is shake it off and start looking at next year. The rotation is maybe half set between Fried and Anderson and whenever Soroka comes back. That still leaves two spots to fill and it better not be another season of “let’s give the young guys a chance.” 1 of those spots, maybe. The other needs to be a reliable veteran (or a man can dream…a proven TOR ace.)

    The defense seems relatively set:

    1b – Freeman
    2b – Albies
    SS – Swanson
    3b – Riley
    C- D’Arnaud
    LF – Duvall
    CF – Pache
    RF – Acuna

    We won’t know for a few weeks at least if there is a DH or not next year. If there is, I hope we at least make a run at Ozuna. If not him, then another big bat to put behind Freddie. If there is not a DH, then we run into a bit of a pickle for the lineup. If we are determined to lead off with Acuna (and no reason not to generally) I’m not sure I trust any of these others to hit behind Freddie and give him protection on a regular basis as JD and Ozuna have done these last 2 years. So that needs some figuring.

    We can at least know that Markakis will be gone and more than likely Inciarte as well. And then the Gods did smile.

    In the pen – Melancon, Greene, O’Day and Tomlin are all FA (if I figured that right.) I think we make a run at the 1st two. Not sure about the others. We might get lucky with Melancon and O’Day due to their age (and thus lack of interest by other teams.) As for what we keep – Smith, Martin and Minter all have closer like stuff (maybe even Matzek.) That said, I’m not sure any of us wishes to see that. So the pen seems up in the air. Will it be as good as this year? Probably not.

    So it seems we need a back up catcher (could be Flowers again unless we pony up for Realmuto and push D’Arnaud to that place), a reliable starting pitcher that eats innings and/or maybe even fronts the staff (and not the 2nd coming of Mike Hampton or whatever that was that came over from Baltimore ::shudders::), a big bat that can hit behind Freddie and keep him at his MVFree level while still in his prime, and a proven closer to head a pen that will be filled out one way or the other (maybe Newk gets another shot there?) Fill out the bench and then hey…make a run at the Dodgers again.

    A man can dream. I look forward to the think pieces over the offseason about budgets, roster, possible FA signings or trades and all the rest. Let us put the past behind us and move forward. Always forward. And as I finish this, I realize we still have one more great thing to happen before it’s all done…Freddie’s 1st MVP award. He’s winning it. Of that, there is no doubt!

    I too have enjoyed the banter this year, folks. I’ve been around reading since the Mac days but I’m not always vocal within the threads. This has been a year of isolation for many, so to have a place to discuss one thing that brings me joy is invaluable. Thanks and congratulations to all.

  31. Thanks to Ryan and Rob and Alex for keeping the lights on, and to all the contributors, commenters, and readers.

  32. #37
    It’s funny, the Dogs loss didn’t bother me so much, to be honest – reality compels me to recognize that our Flutie-esque QB has his limits & a lotta things would have to go right (as in no turnovers, etc.) — some did, but not enough.

    Was actually surprised to be leading at half – UGA forced 4 consecutive Bama punts before the half-ending FG. But Stetson’s 2nd half INTs were fatal blows. While he has the Matthew Stafford/Brett Favre mentality of forcing balls into tight windows… unfortunately, he has the arm of Billy Kilmer to go with the height of Billy Barty.

    Though I think we’ll still be favored to run the rest of the regular-season table (even w/ Stetson), I have to wonder (like a lotta UGA folks,) if JT Daniels will be taking the snaps if/when they return to Atlanta in December. Stetson’s a great story, sure, but I have my doubts that Kirby will give him a 2nd chance vs. Bama.

    The Braves loss last night was the keeper. You never know when you’ll get that close again. You’d like to think this team is good enough to return to the NLCS & go beyond, but you just don’t ever really know. When you have the chance, you gotta snag it.

  33. Offseason Needs/Goals
    1. Re-Sign Ozuna
    2. Left Handed hitting Outfielder
    3. Veteran Starter
    4. A couple bullpen Arms
    5. Improve Bench
    6. Extend Freeman and Swanson

  34. Methinks that AA is not going to have much $ to work with. The Braves lost upwards of $350-450M in revenue this season. You might get a Freeman extension but otherwise I feel like McGuirk is going to force AA to be a bit thrifty.

  35. I also don’t see too much room to maneuver for AA this offseason due to financial constraints.
    The FF5 extension I am expecting. We won’t be in on Ozuna or Springer.
    In regards to a veteran pitcher, I can see us going after Quintana, Odorizzo or Minor if they are open for a short-term contract. Newk will end up in the pen as will Touki. Folty may actually come back. No reason to completely give up on him unless his velocity is gone for good.
    Barring injury, this will be a good to great team. Likely not quite the offensive juggernaut but certainly better starting pitching and a very good bullpen.

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