Friday night's Game 5 of the National League Championship Series featured a historic occasion. For the first time ever, two individuals with the same name faced off in the postseason, as Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith batted against Atlanta Braves reliever Will Smith.
Needless to say, Smith prevailed. Which one, you ask? Smith the Younger, Smith the Hitter, Smith the Dodger.
In the early going of the at-bat, it was the Braves' Smith who was in charge. He had two consecutive pitches called strikes, granting him an 0-2 advantage. The Dodgers' Smith then took three balls in a row, creating a full-count. The payoff pitch did indeed yield a satisfying conclusion, with Smith the Hitter launching a go-ahead three-run shot. Take a look:
Smith's homer served as a turning point in the game, and, the Dodgers hope, in the series. They entered Game 5 trailing the best-of-seven series by a 3-1 margin. They were down 2-1 before Smith's homer, having been shut down by Atlanta's opener A.J. Minter.
We wrote about Smith the Catcher's progress at the plate during the season. Here's part of what we said:
Even with that established, Smith is probably not going to be one of the best hitters in baseball heading forward. What he might be, based on his career to date and the progress he's made in a short period of time, is one of the better catchers in baseball. That, almost by default, would make him one of the game's top overall players. Should that come to pass, the Dodgers would have yet another high-grade player on their hands -- as if they needed the help.
It's to be seen if Smith is able to live up to that promise. On Friday night, at least, he looked the part.