Never Mind the Pollocks: Dodgers win Game 5

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Atlanta came into Game 5 of the NLCS with a 3-1 advantage, hoping to punch their ticket to the Fall Classic on Thursday evening. But a famous author once paraphrased a poem about how the best laid plans of mice and men, in fact, often go awry. The Dodgers now live another day, as they forced an NLCS Game 6, with an exciting 11-2 blowout win against the Braves. The Dodgers have now won their seventh-consecutive elimination game, tenaciously refusing to go gently into that good night. The Dodgers put up 17 hits, as the lineup made plenty of hard contact, placing an impressive .396 xBA against Braves pitching.

Chris Taylor had a notable game; he went deep not once, not twice, but thrice off Braves pitching for a total of six RBI for the evening. Taylor made history with his spectacular 4-for-5 performance at the plate: he’s the first player in postseason history with a three-homer game with his team facing elimination. He’s also the second Dodger to record three home runs in a playoff game, the last being Enrique Hernández in 2017. Including Taylor, 11 players total in MLB history have gone deep three times in a single postseason game.

After his impressive showing on Thursday, Taylor is now hitting .375/.447/.844 with 12 RBI this postseason. A.J. Pollock also had a big night, going 3-for-5 including his second and third postseason home runs. In this NLCS series, Pollock has now driven in six runs while hitting to a .353 average. With Justin Turner now likely out for the postseason after he left Wednesday’s game with a left hamstring injury, Taylor and Pollock will need to help supplement the Dodgers’ offense. Trea Turner also contributed to the Dodgers' 11-run total, with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth; he went 3-for-4 on the evening including a run scored.

Braves starter Max Fried had a shaky start, giving up eight of the 17 Dodgers hits. Fried did not miss a ton of bats in this start, but managed 10 whiffs, five of them off his slider. The Dodgers lineup found Fried’s fastball hittable, and took advantage early. The southpaw was charged with five earned runs, including two homers. Pollock took Fried deep first, with a 398 foot blast to left field to put the Dodgers on the board early. Chris Taylor followed up and penalized Fried again in the second inning with what would be just Taylor’s first blast of the evening.

The Dodgers relied on a bullpen game, with ​​Joe Kelly serving as the opener; he pitched just 2/3 of an inning before being removed with what was later revealed to be tightness in his right bicep. However, Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol, Blake Treinen, Corey Knebel and Kenley Jansen combined after to go 8 1/3 scoreless innings, yielding just three hits while issuing no walks and nine strikeouts.

Freddie Freeman put the Braves up on the board early by mashing a two-run shot off of Joe Kelly in the first inning to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead. It would be the last runs Atlanta would score for the rest of the evening, as the Dodgers bullpen certainly locked up Braves bats.

Game 6 will resume on Saturday in Atlanta, with Ian Anderson taking the mound for the Braves. Max Scherzer, now on full rest after pitching 4 2/3 innings last Sunday, will get the start for the Dodgers, who look to force a potential Game 7.

On Friday, the ALCS will pick back up in Houston, as the Astros hold a 3-2 lead over the Red Sox. Game 6 will feature Nathan Eovaldi starting for the Red Sox, who is 2-0 with a 3.45 ERA in the postseason. The Astros will send rookie Luis Garcia, who carries a 0-2 postseason record alongside a 24.55 ERA, but he threw just one inning in his Game 2 start before being removed with a knee strain.

Quick Hits

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said late Wednesday that Justin Turner has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. ... Astros manager Dusty Baker indicated Thursday that Lance McCullers (forearm) is likely done for the remainder of the postseason. ... Max Muncy confirmed he's no longer wearing a brace on his left elbow. ... Joe Kelly left Game 5 of the NLCS against the Braves on Thursday with right biceps tightness...Braves activated OF Jorge Soler from the COVID-19 injured list. ... Red Sox activated RHP Phillips Valdez from the COVID-19 injured list.