For the first time since 2004, both League Championship Series will go to a decisive Game 7.
With their backs against the wall, the Los Angeles Dodgers extended the National League’s version on Saturday, defeating the Atlanta Braves 3-1 in a well-pitched Game 6. Starter Walker Buehler bounced back from his rough outing in Game 1, tossing six scoreless inning to lead L.A.’s second straight win after falling behind in the series 3-1.
The NLCS winner will take on the winner of ALCS Game 7 between the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series beginning on Tuesday.
As good as Buehler was, it was the Dodgers offense that set the tone in Game 6. After blasting two home runs in Game 5, hot-hitting shortstop Corey Seager followed up with a first-inning home run to open the scoring. The homer was Seager’s sixth of the postseason, which set the franchise’s single postseason record. His 15 RBIs are also a Dodgers’ record.
Justin Turner immediately followed with a home run of his own. With that blast, the Dodgers became the fourth team in postseason history to hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning of a game while facing elimination. The last team to do it? The St. Louis Cardinals against the Braves in the 2019 NLDS. The Braves lost both games and went on to lose the series last October.
— MLB (@MLB) October 17, 2020
The Braves had a golden opportunity to strike back in the second inning after loading the bases with nobody out. Buehler wouldn’t cave though, recording two strikeouts and a ground out to escape.
Walker Buehler gets out of a bases-loaded jam 🔥 pic.twitter.com/ZzjJ0Q2CnS
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 17, 2020
Buehler had his best outing during the 2020 postseason at the best possible time. After walking five batters and looking uncomfortable in the series opener, he walked none on Saturday. The Braves did rack up seven singles against Buehler, but couldn’t break through until the Dodgers’ bullpen entered in the seventh inning.
To his credit, Braves’ starter Max Fried kept Atlanta in the game after nearly falling apart early. He put together 5 2/3 scoreless innings after that rough first frame, striking out five.
Struggling closer Kenley Jansen picked up the save for Los Angeles with a scoreless ninth.
We could easily rename this section: Mookie Betts Highlight of the Day.
For the second straight game, Betts made the biggest defensive play. This time, he robbed Marcell Ozuna of extra bases and kept Atlanta off the scoreboard with a ridiculous leaping catch at the wall.
Between his power, speed, arm and hops, Betts is simply on another level.
It's on to the winner-take-all Game 7 on Sunday.
Naturally, the immediate focus will be on which pitcher each manager will select as his Game 7 starter.
The Braves seem to have a set rotation, which means rookie Ian Anderson should get the call and the ball. The 22-year-old has not allowed a run during three postseason outings covering 15 2/3 innings. In Game 2 against Los Angeles, Anderson pitched four scoreless with five strikeouts but also walked five in a mostly uneven outing.
As for the Dodgers, the options would seemingly boil down to rookie Tony Gonsolin or Julio Urias. The bigger question: Would Clayton Kershaw be available for an inning or two after pitching in Game 4? And if so, what might his role be?
First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET with TV coverage on FOX.
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