Atlanta Braves Take Rubber Game and Series from Dodgers

AJ Minter of the Atlanta Braves (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
AJ Minter of the Atlanta Braves (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers hooked up for the rubber game of a three-game set on Sunday.  And the game would feature a marquee pitching matchup between reigning NL Cy Young award winner, Trevor Bauer, and Braves ace, Max Fried.

The Atlanta Braves looked to win the series from the LA Dodgers and finish off their seven-game homestand with a winning record on Sunday afternoon.

However, if the Braves were going to end this homestand on a positive note they would have to do so against Trevor Bauer.

However, this was not the best version of Trevor Bauer that we have seen.  Bauer never looked comfortable today and labored through a number of the game’s early innings.  And in turn, it was Max Fried that looked much more like a Cy Young Award winner on Sunday.

The Braves struck first against Bauer in the bottom of the second.  Dansby Swanson led off the frame with a single to left and then Abraham Almonte scored Swanson with a double giving Fried an early one-run lead to work with.

The Braves would score their second run in the third with nearly the exact same formula.  A two-out Freddie Freeman walk was followed up by an Ozzie Albies double to a very similar spot as the Almonte double and the Braves extended their lead to two-nothing.

The Dodgers came back with a run of their own in the top of the fourth when Albert Pujols flared a single into right, scoring Justin Turner.  But that was all they would get today off a very sharp Max Fried.

Fried pitched really well through five innings but ran into his first real trouble of the day in the sixth inning.  With runners on first and second and one out Fried was able to induce a groundball to third from Chris Taylor, moving runners to second and third with two outs.

Albert Pujols would be next and he would sky a ball into left field.  Abraham Almonte would make a nice running catch in foul ground, narrowing avoiding the wall, and keeping the one-run lead intact.

The Braves would extend the lead to three to one in the bottom of the sixth and Max Fried would head back to the mound for the top of the seventh.

Fried would again run into trouble, giving up back-to-back singles to A.J. Pollock and Cody Bellinger before being lifted in favor of A.J. Minter.

As Minter trotted in from the bullpen all of Braves Country had to be on the edge of their seats wondering which version of A.J. Minter we were going to get today.

And to our delight, Minter would proceed to get weak flyouts from Will Smith, Gavin Lux, and Max Muncy to put down the Dodger rally in the seventh.

Both the Braves and Dodgers would add on another late run, but when the dust settled, Max Fried had outdueled Trevor Bauer and the Braves had earned a much-needed 4-2 win.

Even though it just counts as one win in the standings, this Atlanta Braves win over the Los Angeles Dodgers felt so much more important.

This was a huge series win for the Braves.  The defending World Series Champion Dodgers came into town ten games over .500.

The fact that the Braves really only played one good game this series and were still able to win two of three is super important for a number of reasons.

It gives them momentum as they hit the road the Philadelphia and Miami for a pair of three-game sets.

It also shows them that they absolutely have the talent to compete with the top teams in baseball.

This season has been a tumultuous roller coaster of ups and downs.  This team has had to deal with losing Travis d’Arnaud and Marcell Ozuna as well as finding out their young star starting pitcher, Mike Soroka is very unlikely to throw a pitch in a game this year. Not to mention that reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman has seemingly lost some of his joy for playing the game.  These factors have made it very difficult to keep a positive outlook as a Braves fan, and I am sure for some of the Braves players as well.

But the team got key contributions in this game from a lot of players that we might not have expected.  Ender Inciarte, Abraham Almonte, and the much-maligned Braves bullpen all stepped up to help carry this team to a series victory over the best team the Braves have played to date.

All this said I have learned my lesson the hard way with this Braves team this year.  Multiple times I have watched the Braves put a couple of bigs win together and thought that this was the start of a big turnaround.  Only to watch them come out and drop consecutive games to the Blue Jays or Marlins.

So for now, I remain………let’s say, cautiously optimistic that this team will indeed stay in the race for the NL East throughout the season.

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With over 100 games left to play, anything can happen.  And if recent history is any indication, the Braves have a better shot than any to make it out of this NL East division with their World Series hopes alive.