ATLANTA – In some circles, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves were still on a National League Championship Series collision course. History was written considering that the Braves had to avenge a disappointing collapse of the NLCS last year.
The Braves were one World Series game away. The Dodgers needed a miracle to validate a high payroll and a flow of talent.
Ultimately, lightning struck in favor of the Dodgers. The Dodgers overcame a 3-1 deficit to win their seventh World Series.
Fast forward to this year and there was some unfinished business. On Saturday night, the Braves and Dodgers began the final chapter of their playoff rivalry. This time the venue shifted to Truist Park as the Braves secured home court advantage.
In front of a noisy crowd, the Braves earned a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of the series.
The Braves dispersed with a timely strike against a Dodgers pitching barrage. The biggest came in the ninth inning when Austin Riley brought Ozzie Albies home with a trending RBI single.
The Braves would fabricate an offense with a little ABC baseball. Braves manager Brian Snitker reshuffled his roster to fight Dodgers opener Corey Knebel.
Snitker went with left-hander Eddie Rosario to lead the game. The strategy worked as Rosario blistered down the straight field line. Rosario stole the second goal and he then scored on a wild throw from Knebel.
It worked late, with Riley providing the major blow. His RBI single was boosted by a fourth inning home run that drew loud vocals from MVP.
The Dodgers refused to stay ashore. Chris Taylor had an RBI single in the second inning and Will Smith had a solo home run in the fourth inning.
However, Taylor found himself on the wrong side of a belated baserunning error. After hitting a walk with two strikeouts in the ninth inning, he passed second on a single from Cody Bellinger.
Taylor was tagged in a preview for ending the Dodgers threat. The Braves take advantage of this and win.
The Braves offense provided just enough for starter Max Fried. The talented ace has been masterful throughout the stretch with an ability to navigate troubled waters. He ran into trouble against the Dodgers but escaped real danger.
Fried allowed the two points, but was solid in his second playoff appearance. He allowed eight hits in six innings of work. He struck out five batters and kept his team in the game.
The Braves enclosure matched his efforts. Braves reliever Tyler Matzek orchestrated a key moment in the seventh inning. Matzek got around Taylor’s brace and managed to knock out Trea Turner at bat to the delight of the 41,815 fans in attendance.
The Dodgers have been successful with their bullpen opener. Corey Knebel pitched the first inning and gave up a point.
The mix of levers’ weapons kept the Braves at bay. After Knebel sailed in the first set, the bullpen settled with 11 straight outs. The bullpen had seven strikeouts during that time.
The Braves were off balance at home for much of the game. The only real damage came from Riley, who hit a solo home run in the fourth inning. Riley tucked his hands in and punched a 92.7 mph fastball into the outfield seats.
It was Riley’s second playoff homerun as he continued to cement his breakout campaign this season.
Dodgers outfielder Will Smith provided the offense for his team. Smith made his third homerun of the playoffs as the Dodgers held a 2-1 lead early on.
His teammates Chris Taylor and Trea Turner would play complementary roles. Taylor went 2 on 3 and added an RBI single in the first inning to get the Dodgers on the board. Turner had two singles and a stolen base as he continued his success against the Braves.
Game 2 returns to Truist Park on Sunday night. The likely pitching match will feature Max Scherzer versus Ian Anderson with the first pitch scheduled for 7:38 p.m. ET.