Braves grown up a bit for NLCS matchup against the Dodgers
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - The Baby Braves, who faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs two years ago, have grown up a bit and have even won some postseason series.
The Dodgers have been here for the fourth time in five years in the NL Championship Series and have settled in the new AL Stadium, where they won their NL Division Series last week and plan to stay for the World Series.
Atlanta is in its first NLCS since 2001 and like Los Angeles has won all five games this postseason.
"We're really, really strong. In 2018, I think we were just excited to make it, we completely flipped the script of our record from 72-90 to 90-72 in one year, so we were just thrilled," said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, maybe the favorite NL MVP of the season. "That's a whole different story. ... We like our chances. We played really well."
Game 1 of the seven best NLCS is Monday night. It's a matchup of the highest-scoring teams in the majors during the regular season, with fans in the stands for the first time this pandemic-stricken season.
After 118 homers in 60 regular season games, the Dodgers only have two in the playoffs. They met one at the spacious new Texas Rangers ballpark, where they beat the San Diego Padres in the NL Division Series last week, but scored 23 goals in those three games.
"We're not a single lane crime. We can get runs in many different ways," said Dodger's third baseman Justin Turner. "And if the ball happens to go over the fence, we'll take it too."
Los Angeles won the 2018 NLDS against Atlanta in four games en route to the second consecutive World Series, though the 1988 Dodgers are more than three decades away from their final title. This was part of 10 consecutive postseason series losses before the Braves swept Cincinnati and Miami that year.
"The last time we faced them, I said later that we were not as strong as them. We have made great progress in that regard," said manager Brian Snitker. "We are a stronger team than two years ago, our offense , just the sum, the bullpen. "And what we've seen from the young starters is pretty good too."
While the young 20-year-olds Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies were now part of three consecutive NL-Ost titles, Braves Pitcher - a team with rookie starters Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright - threw four shutouts in these playoffs.
"There's a lot of young athleticism on both sides," said Dave Roberts, Dodgers manager. "It's going to be a fun series."
FANS IN THE STAND
While the general public can attend games, it's a far cry from a full house in the $ 1.2 billion retractable roof stadium for the NLCS and World Series. There won't be fans for the AL Championship Series games in San Diego yet.
There were approximately 11,500 tickets available, sold in groups of four, with each of these capsules at least six feet apart. That is around 28% of the 40,518 capacity. This allotment was sold out for Game 1 and three other NLCS games, as well as all World Series games.
"I think it's a step back towards normal, where people have the right to be free and choose to go out and do what they want," said Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen. "It's no fun playing baseball without fans. ... We salute it, we look forward to it."
Both teams plan to race with the same games 1 and 2 starters that they used in the wildcard round and the NLDS.
Walker Bueher, annoying blister and all, will start the prelude for the Dodgers, and left Clayton Kershaw, who plays near his house, goes into Game 2. While Buhler (0-0, 3.38 ERA) has two starts was limited to eight innings, the right-handed player has 16 strikeouts. Three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Kershaw (2-0, 1.93) scored 13 goals in eight scoreless innings in the series against Milwaukee.
Lefty Max Fried (0-0, 3:27) goes in Game 1 for Atlanta, ahead of rookie right-handed Anderson (2-0, 0.00), who has 17 strikeouts over 11 2-3 goalless innings.
Wright will choose the Braves in Game 3, while Roberts will keep his "optionality" for Games 3-5.
Mookie Betts, who turned 28 during the NLDS and is signed for an additional 12 seasons after his trade in February, is at the top of the Dodgers lineup just two years after his World Series win at the Boston Red Sox.
At the top of the Braves is 22-year-old midfielder Acuña.
“Both affect the game in every way, in the box, on the field and on the bases. They are both energizing players that the players focus on and the fans that they focus on, ”said Roberts.
Betts and Acuña both get up on the base and have pop in their bats. Betts beats .368 in the playoffs after hitting 16 homers in 55 games in the regular season, and Acuña went 14 times deep in 46 games and had 38 walks for a base percentage of .406.
"It shows where our game is going compared to what lead-off hitters used to look like," said Snitker. “Now you're looking at two guys like that. The skills are amazing. They are guys who can hit you with their legs, they can hit you on defense, and of course the impact they can have offensive. "
DODGER FOR A MINUTE
California-born Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud was with the Dodgers for less than a week, playing in a game for them in May 2019 after he was fired from the New York Mets and before his contract was bought by the Tampa Bay Rays has been .
"I don't like to see him playing four holes against us for the next week but I'm really happy for him," said Roberts.
After beating .321 with nine homers for the Braves in the regular season, when he was a free agent in the last off-season, he hits with two homers in the playoffs and with hits in every game .421.
Braves' third base coach, Ron Washington, was the Texas Rangers manager from 2007 to 2014, including their only World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. ... Snitker's 31-year-old son Troy is a hit coach for the Astros, they're in the AL Championship Series. "It's really great to do something with our family," said the older Snitker.
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