Coming From Behind in NLCS and in Game 7, Dodgers Win 24th NL Pennant
Their journey is almost complete. For the third time in four years -- for the third time in 32 years and the 24th time in their 137-year history -- the Dodgers are champions of the National League. Now all they have to do is win the World Series. Yeah, just that.
After falling behind three games to one in the National League Championship Series, Los Angeles came storming back to beat the Braves Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday night, winning Game 7 in stirring come-from-behind fashion, 4-3, to clinch it. The Tampa Bay Rays are up next, beginning Tuesday night at Texas.
The final totals don't tell the story any more than the bare statistics do. But here they are for posterity: four runs, 10 hits, no errors for the Dodgers; three runs, three hits, no errors for Atlanta. Julio Urias the winner (2-0) and Chris Martin the loser (0-1). Two L.A. home runs; one by Kiké Hernandez (his second of the series) to tie in the sixth off AJ Minter and by Cody Bellinger (his second of the NLCS), off Martin in the seventh. It doesn't matter that Bellinger hit .200 in the series, or that he has struggled in the postseason in years past. He hit .286 in the 2020 NLWC, he hit .333 in the NLDS and he now has a pennant-winning long ball on his resume for time and memoriam.
It doesn't matter that Blake Treinen pitched to a 6.75 ERA in the NLCS. What matters is that the right-hander threw two tough-as-nails scoreless, kept his team in the game and got the ball to Brusdar Graterol, who threw his pea-resembling 101 mph fastball for three sixth-inning outs without allowing a thing. No one cares a lick that he finished the series with an 8.10 ERA.
But as long as we're on the subject of stats, Corey Seager hit .310 while slugging .897, with five home runs and 11 RBIs and winning the NLCS MVP in the process. Joc Pederson, after struggling throughout the regular season, hit .389/.421/.556, with a homer and three important RBIs. Hernandez hit .308/.357/.769 with two monumentally big home runs. Justin Turner hit .280/.379/.480 with a home run. Will Smith hit .179/.179/.200, but with a clutch-as-hell two-run single for a 2-2 third-inning tie tonight, a big double for a run when the Dodgers led (only) 2-1 in the 15-3 game and an even bigger three-run homer off the other Will Smith to give L.A. its first lead in Game 5.
The Dodgers made plays tonight and throughout the NLCS. I've (almost) lost track of all the plays Betts made this week, but here's the video of his Game 7 circus catch.
The Braves, to L.A. and Treinen's good fortune, helped a little bit with a big base running boner in the fourth. Helped a lot, actually, and you may remember that Lonnie Smith was an Atlanta base runner too way back when.
In the series Dave Roberts managed well, and at times flawlessly. Kenley Jansen looked reborn in two great outings Friday and Saturday, Walker Buehler played aceman in October one more time Saturday and Edwin Rios made good use of his nine at bats, ripping two balls for long home runs. Austin Barnes hit .500/.538/.500. Repeat, .500/.538/.500. Max Muncy smacked two homers and drove in six. Pedro Baez pitched an important clean eighth inning in Game 6.
The point is, the Dodgers won four NLCS games by playing as a team, like they have all year long. And that is why they are headed to the 2020 Fall Classic. See you, Tuesday, Los Angeles.
And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.
Video courtesy of Spectrum SportsNetLA/Los Angeles Dodgers.