Dodgers Advance to NLCS

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The Atlanta Braves’ opponent for the upcoming National League Championship Series was decided on Thursday night, in a thrilling winner-take-all contest between division rivals. You couldn’t ask for a more tense Game 5 -- a low scoring affair, bookended by fantastic pitching performances from both sides, and a late-inning dramatic finish. Both teams entered Thursday’s game with 109 wins, and the Dodgers will now move forward, having earned their 110th win of the year.

A fateful ninth inning started with Justin Turner getting a free pass after being hit by an errant pitch by Camilo Doval, with one out. Gavin Lux then turned a 97.8 mph fastball around for a single, moving Turner to third. Then, on two strikes, Cody Bellinger squared up a slider from Doval and sent a screaming line drive into right field for an RBI single, driving Turner home for what would eventually be the game-winning run.

You’ve heard plenty about the ending, but let’s take it back up to the start. Logan Webb spun a gem of a game for the Giants. He threw 106 pitches in this dazzling outing, including 70 strikes through seven innings. A sixth inning double to Corey Seager that drove in Mookie Betts would be Webb’s only misstep. He gave up just one run off four hits, and struck out seven. Webb’s sinker was especially effective, good for 12 called strikes and two whiffs, contributing to a 41% CSW on that pitch. Webb was also dominant in his Game 1 start, where he held the Dodgers scoreless over 7 2/3 strong innings, yielding just five hits and striking out 10.

Strong relief performances from both sides kept things interesting. Tyler Rogers and his rising slider looked incredible, as he nabbed Corey Seager on 3-2 on a swinging strikeout in the eighth inning.

The Dodgers went with a bullpen game, with Corey Knebel opening with a scoreless first inning, followed by Brusdar Graterol, who yielded two hits but ended his inning unscathed. Julio Urias continued with four strong innings pitched, marred only by a Darin Ruf homer in the bottom of the sixth, the lone run posted by the Giants. Ruf’s homer, absolutely clobbered at 110 mph, was also the longest in postseason history as it travelled 452 feet, according to Statcast.

Blake Treinen, Kenley Jansen, and Max Scherzer (picking up his first career save off two days’ rest) followed suit, all with scoreless, hitless innings to keep the Giants at bay. Mookie Betts also had a strong showing at the plate for Los Angeles: four singles, including a run scored, and a stolen base.

Let’s now briefly return to the end, with Scherzer pitching the bottom of the ninth: Wilmer Flores checked his swing after falling behind and sitting at 0-2. First-base umpire Gabe Morales ruled that he went around, thus ending the ballgame, and the series.

With hot pursuit of back-to-back World Series titles, the Dodgers advance forward to the NLCS, which begins this Saturday, at Truist Park in Atlanta.

Quick Hits

Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reports that the Yankees have parted ways with hitting coach Marcus Thames. ... Lance McCullers (forearm) is "most likely out for the ALCS," per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. ... ESPN's Jeff Passan reports that the Cardinals have fired manager Mike Shildt. ... Jake Meyers (shoulder) said Thursday that he's available for the ALCS against the Red Sox. ... Framber Valdez will start for the Astros in Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night against the Red Sox. ... According to David O'Brien of The Athletic, the Braves are "operating as if" Jorge Soler (COVID-19) will miss the NLCS. ... Chris Sale will start Game 1 of the ALCS against the Astros.

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