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The Braves avoided calamity and widened their NLCS lead

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Atlanta almost dropped Game 2 of the NLCS in disastrous fashion. Fortunately, they changed the narrative and avoided a collapse to take their seventh straight postseason win.

League Championship - Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

If the Braves were flying high after their Game 1 victory, then they’ve got to be absolutely soaring right now after picking up the win in Game 2 to run their lead in the series to 2-0. Although this is kind of like comparing apples-to-oranges since these games are being played at a neutral site, you have to figure that the Braves would be feeling fantastic about themselves if they were going into Game 3 against a Dodgers team like this after taking the first two games on the “road.” As of right now, it’s all about taking care of business from here on out. They’ve shown that they can take two games against Los Angeles, so it’s absolutely not out of the question for them to win a couple of games again. They’re getting closer and closer to the Pennant, and the Braves have put themselves in a lovely position at the moment.

With that being said, hoo boy! That final half-inning was too rough for my tastes. Good grief! Please don’t ever do that to me again, Braves. While there’s no real way for me to get inside of all of your minds in order to figure out how you personally were feeling as you watched the Dodgers embark on their desperate rally to tie the game (or worse!), I can at least tell y’all how I was feeling while it was going on. If you see anything that’s relatable, please let me know.


Top of the ninth; Ozzie Albies homers with one out to make it 8-3 Braves

Oh my goodness, they’re really going to win this one in dominant fashion. That seventh inning flurry from the Dodgers was scary, but it seems like they’ve weathered the storm. Seriously, it seems like they’ve seen the best that the Dodgers have to offer and it’s probably going to be smooth sailing going forward. Also, wow — Mark Melancon caught a homer from Ozzie Albies for the second night in a row! If that’s not a good sign, then I don’t know what is. Look at him high-stepping, too! These dudes are having some fun tonight!

Top of the ninth; Cristian Pache grounds out with two men on to end the inning

Well, it sure would’ve been nice if Cristian Pache had poured on some more punishment with a base hit there. Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis kept the inning alive with singles of their own. It’s especially nice to see Nick Markakis finally have a good game or the Braves in the postseason. He had a wRC+ of 16 in the 2018 NLDS and then followed that up with a wRC+ of -7 in 2019. He was sitting on -7 for the 2020 postseason run until Game 2 of the NLCS, and now it’s going to take a jump after the two-for-four game he just had. He even threw in a walk! That’s about all you can ask of Nick Markakis right now, and we’ll absolutely take something like that right now.

You can say the same about Cristian Pache as well. Pache continues the trend of young Braves players showing up to the postseason and performing. He drew two walks as a substitute in Game 1 and he came up huge in Game 2 with an RBI double back in the fifth inning. I’d say he’s giving the Braves the offense that they had been looking for from one of their outfield options, huh? Anyways, the offense has done its part and they’ve got a comfortable lead. I understand sitting Mark Melancon down, but Josh Tomlin is an interesting choice. Well, he’s got a cool-but-weird-looking mustache going right now so maybe it’ll work out alright for him?

League Championship - Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two
How about Cristian Pache!
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Bottom of the ninth; Corey Seager doubles to make it 8-4 Braves

Well, at least Tomlin got that strikeout banked in before giving up that double to Corey Seager! He hasn’t pitched for a while, so some rustiness is expected. It is concerning that a pitcher who’s prone to giving up barrels (at a rate of 11.9 percent during the regular season) is going to be pitching against a lineup that is just as good as the Braves when it comes to barreling up baseballs (10.3 percent as a team, tied for the best in baseball with the Braves), but hey! It’s still a four-run game and Tomlin just struck out Justin Turner. The Braves are probably going to be fine! The worst that can happen with Max Muncy at the plate right now is that he hits a bomb and brings the Dodgers within two!

Bottom of the ninth; Max Muncy hits a bomb and brings the Dodgers within two

Well, that’s less than ideal. Still, all he needs is just one more out so everybody can go to sleep on a happy note. See, look! Brian Snitker is taking no chances and here comes Mark Melancon. It’s not good that he’s got to throw two nights in a row, but it’s the postseason. You have to get the job done when you’re called upon, and tonight the job is to clean up the mess that Josh Tomlin left behind. Again, all you need is just one out, and there it is! There’s a grounder to Ozzie and—

Bottom of the ninth; Ozzie commits an error to keep the Dodgers alive

Uh oh. Well, Cody Bellinger has been quiet for most of this series so far, so just put it behind you and sit him down to end the game right now—

Bottom of the ninth; Cody Bellinger hits a triple to bring the Dodgers within one

Uh oh. Okay, please, please, please just get the out and get it over with. 1-1 in this series wouldn’t be a bad result over the first two games of the NLCS, but it would be disastrous after having a five-run lead going into the bottom of this inning. Again, please get this out.

Bottom of the ninth; AJ Pollock grounds out to end the game. Braves win 8-7

Oh, thank goodness. Okay yeah, never had a doubt about that one. Totally. Never had a single doubt about that one. Phew!

League Championship - Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two
Let me tell you: I am so relieved that we got to see this victory selfie after that Game 2. Phew!
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

In my opinion, there’s a couple of real ways to look at how that game ended. It’s easy to figure that this is a sign that the Dodgers have found their way at the plate and they’re going to turn into the offensive juggernaut that we all expected them to be. That’s a reasonable take to have and it’s very possible that this could be seen as the moment the Dodgers finally woke up. It’s also possible that the Braves could respond to winning a game that we’ve historically seen them usually lose by going into the next game with even more confidence. It’s entirely feasible that the Braves may have just taken one of the best shots that the Dodgers had to offer in this series. Los Angeles scored three in the seventh and four in the ninth and still lost because they got out-slugged by the Braves. It took a while, but we eventually got the slugfest that we expected these two teams to get into and the Braves came out on top. Even with that shaky ninth inning, that’s huge for Atlanta going forward in this series.

There are plenty of ways to react to how that game ended, but the main takeaway should be that the Atlanta Braves are currently sitting on a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. They’re in a commanding position right now and it’s up to them to make sure that this lead sticks. The promised land of the World Series is currently in sight and the Braves currently have a golden opportunity to make a Fall Classic appearance this year. I’d be thrilled if the Braves would just go ahead and finish the job during the “home” portion of this series, but at least we now know that this team has the fortitude to hold on to a lead when things get shaky. Game 2 got messy, but our guys pulled through and it could ultimately end up being a watershed moment for this current iteration of the Atlanta Braves.