The Braves survived a furious ninth-inning comeback attempt by the Dodgers to eke out an 8-7 win in Game 2 of the NLCS (box score) and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The Dodgers, held quiet in the first 15 innings of the series, scored three in the seventh on a Corey Seager home run and then four times in the ninth and had the tying run at third base when Mark Melancon got A.J. Pollock to ground out sharply to third base to end it. As a result, the Dodgers wound up 90 feet short of what would've been the largest comeback in LCS history.
For Atlanta, 22-year-old rookie starter Ian Anderson limited the Dodgers to one hit in four scoreless innings of work. He also walked five batters over that span, but the Dodgers weren't able to capitalize early.
The Braves struck first, as they've done in every game of the 2020 postseason thus far, when Freddie Freeman homered for the second time in as many games, this time in the fourth inning off L.A. starter Tony Gonsolin, who was filling in for the Clayton Kershaw (back spasms). The next inning -- a 33-minute half-inning -- the Braves grew their lead to 6-0 thanks to RBI knocks from rookie Cristian Pache and Freeman, a bases-loaded walk worked by Travis d'Arnaud, and an Ozzie Albies sac fly that almost got over Cody Bellinger's outstretched glove for extra bases. A two-out, two-run double by Dansby Swanson in the seventh made it 7-0 and an Albies homer in the ninth gave Atlanta its eighth run. The Braves needed all of them.
Now for some things to know about Game 2.
The Dodgers had their chances early
The Dodgers made Game 2 more than interesting in the ninth, and in light of that their struggles to convert opportunities early in the game stand out. Prior to Seager's homer in the seventh, they were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position in Game 5.
In the first, a two-out walk by Max Muncy amounted to nothing thanks to sparkling Austin Riley-to-Freddie Freeman snare and putout. In the third, the Dodgers loaded the bases with two outs, but Will Smith grounded into a force out to end the frame. In the fourth, another two-out walk led to another stranded runner. In the fifth, a Seager walk with one out was followed by a Justin Turner double-play ball. In the sixth, the Dodgers failed to take advantage of a one-out single. Then in the eighth, a two-out single amounted to nothing.
Given the hair-thin final margin, those missed chances found all over the box score will surely haunt the Dodgers if the Braves wind up winning this series.
Atlanta is still undefeated this postseason
The Braves came into the 2020 postseason having not advanced past the opening round -- be it the NLDS or the Wild Card Game -- in their last nine trips to the playoffs. Over that span, they went 12-25 in playoff games. This time around, though, they've flipped that script in a big way. The win over the Dodgers in game pushes the Braves to 7-0 this postseason.
Anyhow, looking ahead, the 2005 White Sox came the closest to running the table in the era of the expanded postseason, as they went 11-1 en route to winning the World Series. They suffered their only loss of that postseason in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Angels.
The Braves are in charge
Up 2-0 in this best-of-seven series, the Braves are tasked with winning two more games before the Dodgers win four. Teams in Atlanta's position -- i.e., up 2-0 in a best-of-seven and having opened as the road team -- go on to win the series in question a robust 89.3 percent of the time. As for Wednesday's Game 3, that same history suggests the Braves have a 60.7 percent chance of winning it. In other words, the Braves are now heavy favorites to win the pennant for the first time since 1999.