With one win over the next three games, the Braves will find themselves in the World Series.
Facing a possible series tie against Clayton Kershaw, Bryse Wilson - still technically a rookie - put on his big boy pants and pitched the game of his life. He went six strong innings, only allowing one run on one hit, striking out five. He was dominant all night long.
The Braves would have been happy if Wilson could give them three or four innings, while keeping the game within reach. He outperformed all expectations, and put the Braves in a position to win.
Meanwhile, Clayton Kershaw pitched brilliantly for the first five innings, but when Dave Roberts ran him back out for the sixth, the Braves smelled blood and seized their opportunity.
The narrative will persist that he cannot come through in the postseason, but tonight rests more so on the shoulders of a manager that tried to squeeze just a bit too much out of his starting pitcher.
It didn’t help Kershaw’s cause that the Braves offense roared to life. Ronald Acuña, Freddie Freeman, and Marcell Ozuna combined to reach base nine times.
For a guy who the Braves desperately needed to come alive offensively, Ozuna picked a great time to go 4-for-5 with two home runs, a double, and 4 RBI. His contributions alone would have been enough to stake Wilson to victory.
Wilson had all of his pitches working nicely, touching 96 on his fastball and getting plenty of bite on his off-speed and breaking pitches. The only blemish was a solo shot off the bat of Edwin Rios in the third inning, one which put the Dodgers up 1-0.
Marcell Ozuna, whose bat had gone cold during the postseason, sent a shockwave through Braves Country when he tattooed this offering from Kershaw into the seats, tying the game at 1.
After the home runs, the game rolled merrily along without much incident until the sixth inning, when Ronald Acuña hit a chopper over the mound. As Kike Hernandez was making a throwing error that (eventually) allowed Acuña to take second base, he tumbled over the first base bag and landed awkwardly on his left wrist.
The trainers came out to evaluate him, but he luckily stayed in the game. After taking his base, Freddie Freeman gave the Braves the lead on this laser into right.
Not to be outdone, Ozuna followed with an RBI double of his own.
This was the end of the line for Clayton Kershaw. He got outdueled. By Bryse Wilson. In a playoff game.
He was replaced by Brusdal Graterol, who only recorded one out but allowed one inherited runner (and two of his own runners) to score. He allowed a dinky hit to Ozzie Albies to put runners on the corners, and Ozzie then sprinted home on a Dansby Swanson double. Dansby wasn’t on base long, as an Austin Riley single brought him home. The Braves were up 6-1. The Dodgers brought in Victor Gonzalez, but he allowed an RBI single to Cristian Pache to push it to 7-1.
Will Smith (the Braves pitcher - not the Dodgers catcher, or the Fresh Prince) came on to pitch the seventh inning. Smith clearly didn’t have his best stuff tonight, using 26 pitches to only log one out, and leaving with the bases juiced. Chris Martin came on and allowed only a sac fly to bring the score to 7-2 Dodgers.
It seemed like the momentum might have swung in the Dodgers’ favor during the inning, despite only plating one run. Marcell Ozuna decided there would be no momentum swing and made it 8-2 Braves.
The Braves kept piling it on in the ninth inning, tacking on two more runs (courtesy of Freddie Freeman and - you guessed it - Marcell Ozuna) to stretch the score to 10-2.
These two teams will go again tomorrow night, with first pitch coming at 9:08pm ET.