'I saw fight.' How the Dodgers fended off elimination and won Game 5 of the NLCS

Following his group’s Game 4 loss, Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts stated he just desired the possibility to return on an airplane to Atlanta this weekend.

After the Dodgers punched that ticket with an emphatic 11-2 win in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday, fending off removal and cutting the Braves’ lead in the best-of-seven face-off to three-games-to-two, Roberts chuckled when inquired about the upcoming cross-country flight.

“One of the happier flights I’ve been looking forward to,” he stated, including: “Our backs are against the wall and I don’t expect a letdown. But, yeah, I’m looking forward to that flight.”

Getting there was no simple job. On Thursday, the Dodgers required an historic 3 crowning achievement effort by Chris Taylor, a two-homer outburst from AJ Pollock and excellent revealing from the bullpen to win their 4th removal video game of the 2021 playoffs, and seventh going back to in 2015 when they got rid of a similar 3-1 NLCS deficit to the Braves.

But they now have a possibility to duplicate history, heading back to Atlanta 2 wins far from a return journey to the World Series.

Here are 5 takeaways from Game 5:

Albert Pujols tosses his bat after hitting a single during the second inning of the NLCS Game 5.

Albert Pujols tosses his bat after striking a single throughout the 2nd inning of Game 5 of the NLCS versus the Braves at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Two-strike battle

In their uneven Game 4 loss, the Dodgers went 0 for 14 in two-strike counts.

In their a lot more uneven Game 5 win, they turned that script.

On Thursday night, the Dodgers went 11 for 25 in two-strike counts — extending at-bats, innings and likely their season by avoiding the Braves pitchers from putting them away.

The Dodgers’ opening rally in the 2nd inning was sustained by that method, with Albert Pujols singling on a full-count slider one at-bat after Pollock’s very first crowning achievement, and one prior to Taylor’s consent 2-run blast.

Pollock and Pujols beat Braves starter Max Fried with two strikes once again in the 3rd, each of them getting on base to establish Taylor’s RBI single.

The finest examples were yet to come.

In the 5th, Will Smith and Pujols drew full-count strolls, then Taylor barreled up an 0-2 fastball from reducer Chris Martin for a three-run crowning achievement.

In the seventh, Taylor homered once again in a two-strike count, mashing his 3rd long ball of the night on a 2-2 changeup over the external half of the plate.

And in the 8th, the Dodgers lastly put the video game out of reach after Mookie Betts singled in a complete count and Trea Turner drove him house with another two-strike hit, ultimately establishing Pollock’s game-sealing three-run homer later on in the inning (that a person can be found in a 3-0 count, among just 3 hits from three-ball counts for the Dodgers in the video game).

For a Dodgers group that ranked 26th in the majors this year in two-strike batting average (.159) and never ever had more than 9 such hits in any one video game, Thursday’s production was extraordinary.

Roberts, nevertheless, stated it was reflective of their total mindset.

“I saw fight,” he stated. “There were at-bats that in games past were ended and [we would] chase. [Tonight], I just saw us continuing to fight. I saw the ability and the desire to use the other side of the baseball field, to keep the line moving.

“That’s who we are when we’re at our best. We can slug, as you saw some homers tonight, but those shift busters, and Albert riding out a backdoor breaking ball — that’s stuff that really gets my juices going.”

The Dodgers' AJ Pollock rounds the bases after a three-run home run.

The Dodgers’ AJ Pollock rounds the bases after striking a three-run crowning achievement throughout the 8th inning of Game 5 of the NLCS versus the Braves at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Top-to-bottom production

Thursday was among the Dodgers’ most well balanced offending display screens of the postseason, too.

All 8 position gamers reached base a minimum of as soon as, 5 had several hits and 3 gamers had at least 3 base knocks (Turner, Pollock and Taylor).

It was the bottom-half players that did one of the most damage, too.

The Dodgers’ Nos. 1-4 players on Thursday: 5 for 18 with one RBI, a walk and hit-by-pitch.

Their bottom 5 players in the lineup: 12 for 23 with 5 crowning achievement, 10 RBIs and a walk.

“I think all year we’ve been a pretty deep team top to bottom,” Taylor stated. “We pride ourselves on having good at-bats and grinding them out and kind of pass the baton to the next guy.”

There was a great indication from the top of the order, however. Turner lastly stopped his postseason downturn, snapping a 6-for-40 skid considering that the start of the NLDS with his 3rd profession three-hit playoff efficiency. He likewise reached base through a hit-by-pitch and got simply his 2nd RBI of the month.

“It was just nice for Trea to break out another club, hit the ball the other way and beat the shift and stay on a baseball,” Roberts stated. “When he gets on base, a lot of good things happen. … He was working on that in batting practice today with the hitting guys and for it to see it play out like that was great.”

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen delivers a pitch during the ninth inning of Game 5 of the NLCS.

Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen provides a pitch throughout the ninth inning of Game 5 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium Thursday. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Bullpen turns up huge

There have actually been just 2 celebrations in this series when the Dodgers’ bullpen has actually looked susceptible.

When among the reducers is working as a starter. Or when a regular starter has actually pitched in relief.

The previous took place once again Thursday, after opener Joe Kelly quit a two-run crowning achievement to Freddie Freeman prior to being gotten rid of with a postseason-ending bicep injury.

But from there, the remainder of the Dodgers’ relief corps returned into a groove, with the next 6 pitchers integrating to toss 8⅓ scoreless innings.

“Our bullpen kind of falls in the shadow, but they did an unbelievable job,” Pujols stated. “Those guys came in and they put some zeros out there for us to allow us to score some runs for them and then end up winning the game.”

Even without the previously mentioned cautions, the Dodgers bullpen has a strong 3.07 age in the series and postseason-best 2.32 mark in general in October.

But leave out Kelly and Knebel’s starts in Games 1 and 5, and the relief looks of regular-season rotation members Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin — leaving just the times typical relief pitchers have actually pitched in typical relief circumstances — and their numbers in this series ended up being even much better: 24 ⅓ innings, 3 made runs, 34 strikeouts, 4 strolls.

“All the guys were just fantastic,” Roberts stated.

The just issue in the bullpen going into Game 6: Kelly is out, and Roberts stated left-hander Justin Bruihl was not able to pitch Thursday after feeling arm discomfort throughout his warm-up.

The Braves' Freddie Freeman celebrates with Adam Duvall after a two-run homer.

The Braves’ Freddie Freeman, right, commemorates with Adam Duvall after a two-run homer throughout the very first inning of Game 5 of the NLCS versus the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Freeman, Rosario remain hot

The something the Dodgers didn’t do — which they might require to find out in Games 6 and 7 — was decrease Freeman or Eddie Rosario, the Braves’ 2 most popular players.

Freeman’s two-run crowning achievement in the very first appeared like a possible back-breaker, with the 2020 NL MVP winner penalizing a hanging curveball to get his 6th hit and 4th RBI in the last 3 video games.

Rosario, on the other hand, gathered his 3rd multi-hit video game of the series, singling in the 3rd inning and doubling in the seventh. He is batting .571 in the NLCS with a 1.609 OPS.

The great news for the Dodgers: Some of the Braves other essential bats have actually cooled down.

Ozzie Albies is 4 for 17 (all songs) considering that Game 2. Joc Pederson went 3 for 12 in his postseason go back to Dodger Stadium. Austin Riley went hitless in 14 at-bats over the 3 video games in Los Angeles. And Jorge Soler, making his return from the COVID-19 list Thursday, set out in his very first action of the series.

Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer delivers a throw during Game 2 of the NLCS

Dodgers beginning pitcher Max Scherzer provides a toss throughout Game 2 of the NLCS versus the Braves at Truist Park on Oct. 17. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Scherzer in Game 6

As the Dodgers head back to Atlanta, they now have the precise pitching strategy they’d desire in a removal situation.

Max Scherzer will take the mound for Game 6, with Walker Buehler waiting for a possible Game 7.

In his Game 2 start on brief rest, Scherzer fought what he referred to as a “dead arm” throughout a 4⅓-inning getaway. Asked how Scherzer has actually rebounded in the days considering that, Roberts stated he’ll have a much better sense of precisely what to anticipate from Scherzer closer to Saturday.

“I don’t know until we get there, I really don’t,” Roberts stated. “He’s doing his work and preparing. Obviously he’s been on the stage and to hand a ball to a guy like that you believe in, whatever he can give us we’re going to have guys around him to help us win a ball game.”

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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