The Braves faced the best pitcher on the planet last night and came up short. It was to be expected, and it was frustrating as hell to watch.
Despite not having his A+ stuff, Clayton Kershaw still managed to dominate the Braves over seven innings and 124 pitches. Other than a deep warning-track power shot off the bat of Brian McCann that would've cut the deficit to 5-3 in the fourth inning, the Braves didn't really give the Dodgers any reason to worry.
All credit goes to L.A. They outplayed the Braves in just about every way, even if they were on the fortunate side of a couple bloops and dinks that somehow reached the outfield grass. They went 3-for-10 as a team with runners in scoring position while Atlanta went a measly 1-for-8, failing to capitalize on Kershaw when he was shaky in the early going.
Fortunately for the Braves, there are still potentially four games left in the series. They've got to win three of them to keep their season alive.
Friday night will be as much of a must-win game as the Braves have played in the last decade. Lose that one with the next two games coming in Los Angeles and it's tough to see the guys pulling off a miracle, even if it has been done before.
With the exception of the last few weeks, Mike Minor has been the Braves' best and most consistent starting pitcher since the season began. He'll get the ball later this evening and will be opposed by Zack Greinke.
Win, and the season is still alive. Lose, and it'll be another early exit for Atlanta in October.