Chris Taylor's mistake, Dodgers' missed scoring chances and more

The Dodgers’ Chris Taylor rests on the field after being captured in a rundown in between bases and tagged out by Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, left, throughout the ninth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS at Truist Park on Saturday in Atlanta. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

It wasn’t tough to simplify the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves in Saturday’s Game 1 of the NLCS to an easy description.

Manager Dave Roberts did it in 2 sentences.

“We didn’t not win the game because we didn’t prevent runs,” Roberts stated. “We just didn’t get the hits when we needed.”

Indeed, on a night when it appeared like the Dodgers’ patchwork pitching strategy in a bullpen video game would be their greatest barrier, they were rather tripped up by another not-very-clutch, not-very-consistent efficiency from the lineup, dropping the club to 1-7 in its previous 8 NLCS openers returning to 2008.

The excellent news for the Dodgers? They’ve conquered Game 1 losses in their last 2 NLCS looks (in 2015 versus the Braves and in 2018 versus the Milwaukee Brewers) to still go on and win the pennant.

But, Saturday provided indications that, regardless of the 18-win space in between 2 groups throughout the routine season, this series has the prospective to be a lot closer than anticipated.

Here are 4 takeaways from the video game:

1. Chris Taylor’s baserunning error

The script was playing out as it had many times in the past.

Stuck in a low-scoring fight after a slow night at the plate, there was a quick minute in the ninth inning Saturday night when the Dodgers offense lastly seemed coming to life.

After a two-out walk by Chris Taylor, the very first for either group all video game, pinch-hitter Cody Bellinger raised a two-out single into shallow ideal field, a spinning line drive that drifted simply over the glove of 2nd baseman Ozzie Albies and landed gently in the outfield yard.

The chance to break a 2-2 tie, nevertheless, was entered a flash. Instead of stopping at 2nd base or charging tough for 3rd, Taylor ended up in no guy’s land as ideal fielder Joc Pederson fielded the ball, getting captured in a rundown that ended the inning and set the phase for Austin Riley’s walk-off single in the bottom of the frame.

Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson tags out the Dodgers' Chris Taylor

Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson, right, tags out the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor as Taylor is captured in a rundown in between bases throughout the ninth inning of Game 1 of the NLCS at Truist Park on Saturday in Atlanta. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

So just what occurred on the play?

Taylor offered a concise description postgame, stating he made “just a bad read” that was intensified by an even worse choice.

“I saw it barely got over Albies’ head, and I thought I could get to third,” stated Taylor, who made a huge reverse 2nd that left him too far from the bag when he attempted to stop and return. “I didn’t realize Joc had it that quick and tried to stop. I should have kept going.”

Albies, who had actually pulled away into the outfield attempting to make the catch, at first didn’t anticipate the Braves to have any opportunity on the play.

“I thought he was going to be at third already, once I jumped and the ball went over my head,” Albies stated.

Similarly, Roberts believed if Taylor dedicated to a choice in any case — either going all-in for 3rd or stopping all the method at 2nd — he would have been safe.

“It’s kind of one of those where you got to pick,” Roberts stated, keeping in mind the by-the-book play most likely would have been for Taylor to stop at 2nd with Mookie Betts coming near the plate.

“You either are going to go hard [to third] — and I don’t know if Joc would have thrown to third right there and just conceded that base — or just hold up with two outs and give Mookie a chance. But I think right there he was kind of caught in between. That’s kind of when you get in trouble.”

Converting the out still needed tidy protective execution from the Braves. Pederson short-hopped his relay toss to 2nd base, however shortstop Dansby Swanson had the ability to gather the ball and avoid Taylor from going back to the bag. From there, Riley and Swanson traded a couple tosses prior to Taylor lastly dropped to end the pickle, getting tagged out prior to knocking his helmet down in aggravation.

“You don’t want to make the last out when you’re in scoring position,” Taylor stated.

2. Struggling to be clutch

Of course, even if Taylor had actually securely dropped in scoring position, there’s no warranty his colleagues would have brought him house.

At that point, the Dodgers had actually currently stopped working to capitalize a long list of scoring possibilities, ending up Saturday’s video game 1 for 8 with runners in scoring positions (Taylor had the only hit, an RBI single in the 2nd) and leaving 7 males on base.

There was nobody factor for the bad situational outcomes.

Sometimes, Dodgers players spent for being excessively aggressive.

In the 3rd, Justin Turner and Corey Seager made fast outs on pitches hardly in the zone following a Trea Turner single.

In the seventh, when the Dodgers had the prospective consent perform at 3rd with one out, Betts chased after high, popping out on a fastball above the zone, while Trea Turner chased after low, whiffing on a Tyler Matzek slider to end the risk.

“I think I might have been a little bit too aggressive, but I’m OK with that, because that’s what I told myself I wanted to do,” Turner stated of his strikeout. “He made some good pitches, I swung at some balls. Obviously I would like to have that at-bat back.”

In other circumstances, the Dodgers appeared too reluctant, such as when Seager took a called 3rd strike (it was borderline, however in the zone) with 2 aboard in the 5th.

The Dodgers' Trea Turner hits a single

The Dodgers’ Trea Turner strikes a single throughout the 3rd inning of Game 1 of NLCS versus the Braves at Truist Park on Saturday in Atlanta. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

And periodically, they were both, consisting of a first-inning at-bat in which Justin Turner took 2 fastballs over the heart of the plate prior to later whiffing on a slider in the dirt to hair a runner at 2nd base.

“We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed,” Roberts stated, including: “We just couldn’t push enough runs across.”

What is clear: The Dodgers either requirement to strike more crowning achievement (in their 4 playoff wins, they tallied 5 long balls; in their 3 losses, they have just one) or be more constant throughout clutch scenarios.

So far in the playoffs, they are batting simply .206 (12-for-58) with runners in scoring position, compared to a .260 mark in all other scenarios.

3. Patchwork pitching strategy provides

Even after the Dodgers chose to press ace Max Scherzer back to Game 2 to offer him an additional day off, their patchwork pitching strategy in Saturday’s bullpen video game still placed them with a possibility to win.

Corey Knebel began for a second-straight video game and yielded a first-inning operate on a wild pitch that grazed the suggestion of catcher Will Smith’s glove. But the Dodgers stood out playing matches the remainder of the night.

Right-hander Phil Bickford got 4 outs in the 2nd and 3rd. Left-hander Justin Bruihl started out all 3 batters he dealt with. Tony Gonsolin pitched the longest, giving up one run in 1 ⅔ innings. And lefty Alex Vesia finished the bridge to the back end of the bullpen with a scoreless sixth.

Overall, the Dodgers got either right-on-right or left-on-left matches in 17 of 31 plate looks.

“We prevented runs all night,” Roberts stated.

That consisted of in the 8th inning, when the Dodgers chose to utilize Kenley Jansen prior to Blake Treinen.

Roberts repeated Jansen is the Dodgers better, however believed he was much better fit for the matches in the 8th inning, when Swanson, pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianze and leadoff guy Eddie Rosario pertained to the plate. The outcome: A one-two-three inning on 8 pitches, Jansen’s fourth-straight scoreless look to start the playoffs.

Treinen, nevertheless, couldn’t duplicate the exact same in the ninth, quiting a single to Albies, who then took 2nd and scored on Riley’s walk-off hit.

4. Braves bullpen presents issues

While the Dodgers invested all video game comparing, Braves supervisor Brian Snitker tossed his take advantage of reducers out one inning at a time, trusting them versus players on either side of the plate the method he has all year.

It was a reflection of the skill in the back of Atlanta’s bullpen — a three-headed beast of Matzek, Luke Jackson and Will Smith that might posture a severe issue for the Dodgers in this series.

Braves pitcher Tyler Matzek throws a pitch

Braves pitcher Tyler Matzek includes the seventh inning of Game 1 of the NLCS versus the Dodgers on Saturday in Atlanta. (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

While the Braves may not have the exact same quality of relief depth as the Dodgers, their last 3 are as excellent as any.

Matzek is a hard-throwing lefty with reverse divides, utilizing that adaptability to retire Betts and Turner in successive at-bats in the seventh inning to stand a runner at 3rd.

Jackson, a right-hander who didn’t pitch in the postseason at all in 2015 however had a team-best 1.98 period in the routine season, retired the heart of the Dodgers’ order in the 8.

“[Matzek] and Luke to me are interchangeable, they’re not match up guys,” Snitker stated, including: “We kind of look at the lineup and then just pick and choose and it’s really like getting a hat, and I don’t think we’re going to go wrong with those two guys.”

Smith, the better, complete the trio. Though he just had a 3.44 period this season, he still transformed 37 of 43 save chances and on Saturday made the win after leaving the top of the ninth on Taylor’s base-running mistake.

In the Braves’ department series win versus the Milwaukee Brewers, those 3 pitchers integrated for 10 2/3 scoreless innings.

And in the NLCS opener, they appeared like they might be a weapon for the Braves when again.

“It just goes to show again what this bullpen has done,” Riley stated. “We kind of have that vibe of we’re not out of it until the very last out. Our bullpen kept us in the game, and we were able to pull one out.”

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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