Sunday, December 5, 2021

Wicker: Insults, injuries push the Dodgers towards the end of a very thin rope in the NLCS

So they got to the seventh inning in Game 4 just as they did to the eighth inning in Game 3.

The Dodgers were three runs behind the Braves. Just think. They still had a chance for a puncher.

How scary are late serves at Dodger Stadium? Only four guest pitchers have saves since the All-Star break, not a single one since 27 August.

On Tuesday, in front of a grim and empty stadium, Cody Bellinger made a thrilling three-move when the card told him.

But Wednesday was different from Tuesday, just as 2021 is different from 2020.

Albert Pujols left the dugout to make a left-handed mistake in left field. But he only stayed at first base long enough to say hello to Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman, and he made way for pinch-runner Walker Buhler, the same guy who played third game. It’s funny how the Dodgers run out of players faster than before.

Then Field General Justin Turner came up to the plate. Stunning and jaded, he singled and scored in the fifth. But here he hit a ground ball to Ozzy Albis, who tried to finish second for strength, and then relaxed and made a pass to first for a double play.

There is no need to rush. Turner, 36, apparently injured a weakened hamstring on his way to the first. It was not a disguise, it was not a departure, it was not a tightness of the lips.

Puyols was supposed to help Turner back into the dugout. The statue fell.

Bellinger was next. There were two outs in the inning, but that meant there were only seven outs left, a long walk on broken glass for most of the bullpen. Bellinger hit AJ Minter hard, but center fielder Adam Duvall returned to the track and caught him five innings after skiing to beat Gavin Lux’s home run at the top of the fence when that would make a big difference.

The balloon collapsed. No other Dodger reached base, and Eddie Rosario continued to demonstrate the little-known fact that he is the greatest player in the game today, with a home run on top of his home run, his threes and his single.

Braves 9, Dodgers 2 and a 3-1 lead in the National League championship series. The death of the Dodgers is not official, but its symbols were present.

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“Every time I record the lineup, I feel good about our club,” said manager Dave Roberts, “and about the way we play, but it wasn’t as consistent as I think everyone expected.”

First, it was a “bullpen game” for Atlanta. This bullpen has regurgitated the last four games he played at Dodger Stadium. But it was also a misnomer because Drew Smiley started 23 times with the Braves this year and played seven games in the postseason. It is also the type of adorable left-handed snake that annoys dodgers. He followed Jesse Chavez’s perfect first inning with three barrier-free innings. By the time he had to leave, Atlanta were leading 5-0.

This happened because Julio Urias was no more of a mystery to the Brave than Sunday. He faced 31 Atlanta hitters and turned down 11 hits, with seven runs earned across six innings, and Rosario, Duvall and Freeman all took him deeply.

As center fielder Lux watched Duvall’s RBI single touchdown in front of him, Urias threw up his hands pitifully, but Lux could respond by pointing to the seats.

You and the TBS team aren’t the only ones who don’t understand how and why the Dodgers blew their own lead early in the serve. But their embossed edge had to be even larger. Fortunately, Rosario’s ninth-inning home run landed in the Braves bullpen, just to hint.

Of course, Rosario did not leave the loading dock. He was a top 20 MVP twice and competed in 109 races for the Minnesota Twins in 2019. He also has 133 professional homers.

He fought for a couple of years, ended up at Cleveland and was injured when the Braves traded Pablo Sandoval for him. This four-hit game was his second in the same playoff streak previously only played by Robin Yont of Milwaukee (1982 World Series), and he set the Braves’ postseason record for total bases in a game.

“I liked the exit better (in the second game),” he said, “but that was also amazing.”

Neither playoff day nor season are alike. The Dodgers always said that, simply because it sounded right. Watching their older brother limp and their long balls disappear, they seem to finally realize it.

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