I’m going to be really transparent with y’all when it comes to my feelings about Game 1. I really wish that I could just say “Well that just stunk, onto Game 2,” and be done with it. However, I’m also a believer in the theory that wins are fantastic and losses are just lessons so maybe by taking a closer look at what happened last night, we can learn something and move on as we all get ready for what’s going to be a crucial game in this series.
The initial takeaway from last night’s game is that it was another case of the Mike Foltynewicz train careening off of the rails at the slightest hint of adversity. Folty wears his heart on his sleeve and while that’s not a bad thing, it certainly doesn’t help in situations like the one he found himself in at the very start of last night’s game. Foltynewicz was ahead 0-2 on Joc Pederson and threw a 98-mph fastball that was high, inside, and really should have gone past Pederson’s bat for a strikeout that would have set the tone for the evening.
Instead, we got this.
What followed was a double and a walk and Folty was in a hole in the blink of an eye. Fortunately he got out of that frame with just the home run to his discredit, but it was still obvious that he was a bit too amped up and still had that home run on his mind.
Of course, the whole foul line thing is funny and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. However, the next inning continued Folty’s slide into what was going to be a short night. After he mowed through the first two batters he faced, he was up 0-2 on Joc Pederson again and once again, things went sideways as he plunked him.
This led to Justin Turner working his way into a six-pitch walk and that led to Max Muncy taking one pitch for a ball before breaking the game wide open.
Well, that's one way to clear the bases. pic.twitter.com/2pRlesxg2q— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) October 5, 2018
After sulking off of the mound once he eventually made it out of the inning and taking his cuts before sitting down in the dugout in the third inning, that was the end of the night for Mike Foltynewicz. The good news is that it’s going to be hard for him to top that one in terms of futility. The bad news is that, to put it bluntly, the Dodgers absolutely owned him last night. When the Dodgers are on, this is a lineup that can crush you in the blink of an eye and they definitely accomplished that while Folty was on the mound. They took advantage of every mistake that he made and it seemed like they were ready to feast on him — it was almost as if they were salivating to capitalize on him once he got into that mood.
Folty’s struggles on the mound were compounded by the fact that the Braves just did not have an answer for Hyun-Jin Ryu on the night. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts made an interesting choice when he decided to give Clayton Kershaw an extra day of rest by going with Ryu. The decision ended up paying off for Los Angeles in spades because Ryu ended up throwing seven shutout innings and was in complete control for his entire stint on the mound.
Ryu only gave up four hits while he was out there — one in the first inning, two in the fifth and one in the seventh. None of those hits were really barrelled, either. They were all wormburners that just managed to slide past Dodger infielders and nothing really turned into any danger. The scoring chance that came in the fifth was gone in a split-second after Kurt Suzuki decided to try to ambush Hyun-Jin Ryu on the first pitch. It didn’t work, as Suzuki harmlessly popped one to Yasiel Puig to end the threat.
While the Braves only had one hit in the seventh, they could have had something going in that inning as well after Ronald Acuña Jr. made it on base when his speed basically forced Manny Machado into an error. Johan Camargo came up to bat and things went about as poorly as they possibly could for the Braves — Camargo struck out swinging and then Acuña was easily thrown out trying to steal second on what appeared to be a bit of miscommunication.
Acuña missed sign on the play where he was thrown out, Snitker said. Was not sent.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) October 5, 2018
That wasn’t ideal and it definitely wasn’t ideal to see the Dodgers add onto their lead in the sixth and eighth innings with a homer from Enrique Hernandez and a sacrifice fly from David Freese, respectively. The Dodgers didn’t have a lot of hits in this one (the Braves actually out-hit them. Go figure.) but they definitely made the most of the hits that they did get and they also got eight free passes (seven walks, one hit-by-pitch). Meanwhile, the Braves had a grand total of zero extra base hits and zero free passes of any kind. For all of you kids at home, patience is a virtue and hitting dingers is very, very good.
For the most part, this game was the type of thing that you expect to see when a young team with zero expectations and just as much playoff experience got to face off with a team that has been here loads of times. The Dodgers have become postseason mainstays and this game was basically the kings of the National League’s castle giving the inexperienced paupers a rough lesson in the realities of playoff baseball.
The good news is that this is baseball and that things can change dramatically in just one day. For all we know, Game 2 could end up being the polar opposite of Game 1 for Atlanta. Clayton Kershaw’s postseason reputation isn’t the best and while I’ve never really bought into it, it would be nice if that particular narrative ended up working out in Atlanta’s favor tonight.
But for now, we’ll hopefully see the Braves digest what they learned from this one and apply it to what we’re all hoping is a successful moment in Game 2. This crop of Braves may benefit from any sort of playoff experience going forward, but it sure would be nice to have a win instead of another lesson.