Dodgers clobber Atlanta on strength of record-setting 1st inning
The Los Angeles Dodgers were already having a grand time before Max Muncy’s big slam capped the highest-scoring inning in a major league playoff game.
Muncy’s slam off Grant Dayton capped an 11-run first inning when Los Angeles benefited from a game-starting replay challenge, hit three home runs and had nine consecutive batters reach base after two outs. The Dodgers set franchise post-season records for runs and home runs with five, cutting their NLCS deficit to 2 games to 1.
“It’s pretty cool. Not too many things that are cooler than that,” Muncy said. “But the biggest thing to me is our team got a W and got us back on track.”
Joc Pederson hit a three-run homer off starter Kyle Wright to start his four-hit night, and Edwin Rios went deep on next pitch. Corey Seager had a pair of RBI hits in the opening burst, then added a solo homer in the third as the Dodgers built a 15-0 lead — the first team with that many runs in the first three innings of a post-season game.
Winner Julio Urias, made his first post-season start and improved to 3-0 in these playoffs, striking out five while allowing one run and three hits over five innings. He walked the first two batters but no more.
Atlanta’s miserable start was eerily similar to its flop in Game 5 of last year’s Division Series against St. Louis, when they gave up a 10-run first inning at home in a season-ending start by Mike Foltynewicz.
Manager Dave Roberts said Clayton Kershaw will start Game 4 for the Dodgers, two nights after the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner from Dallas was scratched because of back spasms. Bryse Wilson makes his post-season debut as the third rookie right-handed starter for Atlanta in this series in what will be his first appearance since the final day of the regular season on Sept. 27.
“We still are in a good spot with four games left,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Like I say, for the whole team, you just turn the page and get ready to go tomorrow.”
The Dodgers had left the tying run at third base in a four-run bottom of the ninth during an 8-7 loss on Tuesday night. They were the visiting team in Game 3 and sent 14 batters to the plate for seven hits, three walks and a hit batter over 32 minutes in the the 29,786th half-inning in post-season history.
“It was a carryover,” reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger insisted.
“That was fun to be a part of,” Pederson said. “I think some of the momentum from last night, the last inning definitely carried over and got us feeling a little bit more comfortable at the plate.”
Those 15 runs over two times up came after Atlanta had allowed only nine runs in its previous six games plus eight innings, a stretch that included four shutouts en route to a 7-0 post-season start.
Bellinger walked and scored in the first, led off the second with a homer and added an RBI single in the third. His long ball came right after his running, leaping catch at the centre field wall to rob Ozzie Albies with two on to end the Atlanta first.
“It’s not ideal how we started the series, but we feel good about ourselves,” Bellinger said.
MAX SLAM. pic.twitter.com/VLVF1hpEh5
Wright gave up seven runs while facing only nine batters. He had had thrown six scoreless innings in the Game 3 NL Division Series clincher over Miami last Thursday.
Mookie Betts had an infield single on the first pitch of the game, though he was initially called out before a replay challenge overturned the call by umpire Dan Iassogna. Seager drove in Betts with a double on the next pitch before groundouts by Justin Turner and Muncy.
“To get that infield hit, and then the next pitch, you see two pitches and you’ve already got a run, that was quite the change,” Roberts said.
Pederson that overturn “got us going, and then from there you saw what happened.”
Nine consecutive batters reached with two outs. Will Smith had an RBI double to make it 2-0, when he just beat a throw to the bag to avoid being the third out before Bellinger’s walk and the homers by Pederson and Rios. After No. 9 batter Chris Taylor drew a free pass, Dayton walked Betts, gave up the the RBI single to Seager and hit Turner on the foot before Muncy’s 435-foot slam to right-centre.
“I just realized that we got all those runs with two outs. Just really good at-bats,” Roberts said. “We hit some homers, took some walks. Just really a well-played inning. I do think last night’s ninth bled over into tonight.”
When Atlanta No. 9 hitter Cristian Pache finally got to bat leading off the third, the rookie hit his first big league homer — in the regular season or playoffs. All but one Dodgers starter had already batted three times.
Ozzie Albies, who homered in the ninth inning in each of the first two games for Atlanta, this time had to settle in the final frame for a double and scoring the final run on Joahan Camargo’s two-out single.
“At the end of the day it only counts as one game, right? Everybody in the clubhouse knows that,” shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “Tomorrow we’ll come back and put our best foot forward. … There are things to build on.”