The fear was that the Los Angeles Dodgers didn't have enough pitching to get through Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday night. Turns out, they had plenty.
The Dodgers got a game-tying home run from Kiké Hernandez in the sixth inning and a go-ahead homer from Cody Bellinger in the seventh to beat the Braves 4-3, capping a great comeback from down 3-1 in the series with three straight victories in elimination games.
It's the Dodgers' third NL pennant in the past four years. Up next is the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, starting on Tuesday in Arlington, Texas.
"We never gave up," said Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, who had five homers and 11 RBIs and was named MVP of the series. "This team never quit. We came out every night and expected to win.
'Tip your cap to that clubhouse and how we responded, how we came back. We always found the energy, found the big play, found the big spark. Whether it was defensively, offensively, pitching, we grinded through that series. It was a lot of fun to be on top of that one."
There was a lot of consternation at the beginning of these playoffs that the postseason was being watered down by expanding it to 16 teams. But as it turned out, the two best teams in baseball survived it anyway. Los Angeles was 43-17 in the regular season, and Tampa Bay was 40-20.
Kudos to the Dodgers for never blinking when they fell behind 3-1. They stayed confident, and even scratched back from behind in Game 7.
"This was the first time we had our backs against the wall," Los Angeles right fielder Mookie Betts said about falling behind in the series. "All season we have been controlling games, controlling series and whatnot. Seemed like we were getting handled a bit early on. We were able to get ahold of everything and ahold of ourselves.
"We just kept fighting back and it shows you the kind of group and type of guys we have. We are never going to give up. Nothing is going to be easy. We will strike fast before you even think about it, and that is what we did."
NLCS: Braves vs. Dodgers
- Game 1, BRAVES 5, DODGERS 1: The Braves broke a tie in the ninth inning, scoring four times thanks to home runs from Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies to break the game open. The Dodgers, who had the best record in baseball this season (43-17), lost in the postseason for the first time after five straight wins. Starter Max Fried was great for Atlanta, allowing just one run and striking out nine over six innings. Three relievers pitched three hitless innings to grab the early lead in the series. (Atlanta leads series 1-0.)
- Game 2, BRAVES 8, DODGERS 7: Ian Anderson, a 22-year-old rookie, continued his consecutive scoreless innings streak and the Braves survived a ninth-inning scare to beat the Dodgers. Anderson pitched four stressful innings, walking five but not allowing a run. He's now gone 15 2/3 innings without giving up a run in the playoffs. Freddie Freeman was 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs and a homer and Ozzie Albies was 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs. The Dodgers, who trailed 7-0 at one point, scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to make it interesting, but A.J. Pollock grounded out to end the game with a man on third. (Atlanta leads series 2-0.)
- Game 3, DODGERS 15, BRAVES 3: Right-hander Kyle Wright got pummeled in the first inning, allowing seven runs before getting yanked with just two outs in the inning. Los Angeles set a playoff record with 11 runs in the first, cruising to an easy victory. Dodgers starter Julio Urias was really good, going five innings and allowing just one run and three hits. (Atlanta leads series 2-1.)
- Game 4, BRAVES 10, DODGERS 2: The Braves bounced back nicely after that Game 3 blowout, beating Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw to take control of the series once again. Marcell Ozuna had a huge night for the Braves, going 4-for-5 from the plate, with two home runs and four RBIs. Rookie pitcher Bryse Wilson was brilliant for the Braves, going six innings and allowing just one run and one hit all night long. It was an impressive performance for the 22-year-old, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 27. "That was 100 percent a dream come true, especially to do it against someone so established like Clayton Kershaw is,'' Wilson said. "I'm just glad I could help us get a win. I knew how important it was.'' (Atlanta leads series 3-1.)
- Game 5, DODGERS 7, BRAVES 3: The Dodgers won the battle of bullpens to stay alive. They used seven pitchers and allowed just one run and four hits over the final seven innings. Corey Seager was the hitting star for Los Angeles, clubbing two home runs. (Atlanta leads series 3-2.)
- Game 6, DODGERS 3, BRAVES 1: The Dodgers got first-inning home runs from Corey Seager and Justin Turner and cruised from there behind the pitcher of Walker Buehler, who threw six scoreless innings. Buehler did have to deal with a lot of traffic on the base paths, allowing seven hits, but he worked out of jam after jam. The Braves were just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and left eight men on base. (Series tied 3-3.)
- Game 7, DODGERS 4, BRAVES 3; The Dodgers' season recipe for success worked again. They got a game-tying home run from Kiké Hernandez in the sixth inning and Cody Bellinger in the seventh to win the series with the 4-3 win. Los Angeles had to piece together its pitching rotation to get through this game, but it dominated as well. In the final six innings, three Dodgers pitchers held Atlanta hitless, allowing just one walk. Julio Urias pitched the final three innings to get the win. (Dodgers win series 4-3.)
ALCS: Rays vs. Astros
- Game 1, RAYS 2, ASTROS 1: Blake Snell allowed only a first-inning home run, going five innings and then let the bullpen do its thing in Tampa Bay's 2-1 win over Houston. Snell struggled with his control, but kept working out of jams. Four bullpen pitchers threw four scoreless innings, allowing only three hits. The Rays tied the game in the fourth inning on a Randy Arozarena home run and won it on Mike Zunino's single in the fifth. (Tampa Bay leads series 1-0.)
- Game 2, RAYS 4, ASTROS 2: Manuel Margot hit a three-run home run in the first inning after an error and made a tremendous catch while falling over the wall to help Tampa Bay beat Houston, 4-2. Houston starter Lance McCullers Jr. was really good, but was victimized by his own defense, which made two errors. He pitched seven innings and struck out 11. Charlie Morton got the win for the Rays, pitching five scoreless innings. Houston had plenty of chances to score, but left 11 men on base. (Tampa Bay leads series 2-0.)
- Game 3, RAYS 5, ASTROS 2: Tampa Bay took advantage of another Jose Altuve error and exploded for five runs in the fifth inning to break the game open. Ryan Yarbrough went five innings for the Rays to get the win, and the bullpen pitched four scoreless innings. For the third straight night, Houston squandered all sorts of scoring opportunities, leaving 10 men on base. (Tampa Bay leads series 3-0.)
- Game 4, ASTROS 4, RAYS 3: Jose Altuve hit another first-inning home run and George Springer hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning to break a tie, as the Astros won to keep the series alive. Zach Greinke pitched six innings and allowed only two runs to pick up the win for Houston, beating Tampa Bay star Tyler Glasnow. (Tampa Bay leads series 3-1.)
- Game 5, ASTROS 4, Rays 3: Carlos Correa hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Astros their second-straight win and keep the series alive. Houston survived a bullpen day by trotting out five straight rookie pitchers, and they got the job done, pitching a combined 6 2/3 innings and allowing only two runs. Nick Anderson, who allowed only one earned run all year over 16 2/3 innings, took the loss for Tampa Bay, (Tampa Bay leads series 3-2.)
- Game 6, ASTROS 7, RAYS 4: Houston evened the series thanks to a four-run explosion in the fifth inning. The game swung there after Rays starter Blake Snell allowed a walk and a single to the Nos. 8-9 hitters to start the inning, and got a quick hook. But the usually reliable Diego Castillo wasn't the answer, as four straight Houston hitters went single, double, walk single to blow the game open. Houston starter Framber Valdez went six innings and allowed just one one and three hits. (Series tied 3-3.)
- Game 7, RAYS 4, ASTROS 2: Veteran starter Charlie Morton was brilliant and ALCS Most Valuable Player Randy Arozarena hit a two-run homer in the first inning as the Rays bounced back to take Game 7 and advance to the World Series for the first time since 2008. Morton pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed only two hits. Arozarena has seven postseason homers now, an MLB rookie record. The Rays are really clutch in all-or-nothing games. Tampa Bay won a winner-take-all game in the previous round, eliminating the New York Yankees. (Tampa Bay wins series 4-3.)
World Series Schedule
All games at Globe Life Stadium, Arlington, Texas. (TV: FOX)
- Game 1, Tuesday (Oct. 20), 8:08 p.m. ET: Neither team has announced pitchers yet, but we can guess for now. Tampa Bay will be lined up to start Tyler Glasnow on five days' rest in the opener. The Dodgers can turn to ace Clayton Kershaw, who's been baseball's most dominant pitcher in the regular season in the past decade but has has well-documented troubles in the postseason.
- Game 2, Wednesday (Oct. 21), 8:08 p.m. ET: Blake Snell, who's been the Game 1 starter in the first three series, will be on full four days' rest for this one. This will be an interesting call for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Will he want to start Walker Buehler on three days' rest or push him back to Game 3? With days off during the World Series — unlike the first three rounds — Buehler could still pitch Game 7 on regular rest.
- Off day on Thursday (Oct. 22).
- Game 3, Friday (Oct. 23) 8:08 p.m. ET: Postseason hero Charlie Morton would be lined up to start this game on five days' rest for Tampa Bay. For now, it's a complete guess who Roberts goes with here, but the lean would be to Julio Urias, who pitched three innings on Sunday and would be going on full rest.
- Game 4, Saturday (Oct. 24) 8:08 p.m. ET: Pitchers TBA.
- Game 5, Sunday (Oct. 25) 8:08 p.m. ET: Pitchers TBA.
- Off day on Monday (Oct. 26)
- Game 6: Tuesday (Oct. 27) 8:08 p.m. ET: Pitchers TBA.
- Game 7: Wednesday (Oct. 28), 8:08 p.m. ET: Pitchers TBA.