Max Scherzer is set to make his first start in the 2021 National League Championship Series one day later than planned Sunday as the Los Angeles Dodgers seek to even the series against the Atlanta Braves at one game apiece.
Scherzer was scratched as the Game 1 starter Saturday because he “was a little kind of arm tired” after pitching the ninth inning of Game 5 of their National League Division Series on Thursday, and “the best opportunity to have success in a start” for Scherzer would mean starting him in Game 2, manager Dave Roberts said.
The Dodgers are 12-1 in Scherzer’s starts. The only loss was Monday, 1-0, to the San Francisco Giants in Game 3 of their National League Division Series, with Scherzer allowing one run and three hits in seven innings, striking out 10 and walking one.
Scherzer has faced the Braves once since being acquired by the Dodgers on July 30 in a six-player trade with the Washington Nationals. The right-hander allowed three hits in six scoreless innings Sept. 1, striking out nine and not walking a batter in a 4-3 victory. He did not figure in the decision.
Ian Anderson will start for Atlanta. The right-hander was 9-5 with a 3.58 ERA in the regular season. In his only 2021 regular season appearance against the Dodgers, he was charged with the loss in a 9-5 loss June 4 where he allowed four runs on one hit, striking out six and walking three. Two of the runs he was charged with came on bases-loaded walks by reliever Sean Newcomb.
Anderson was the winning pitcher in the Braves’ 3-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3 of their National League Division Series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday, pitching five shutout innings, allowing three hits, striking out six and walking a batter.
Los Angeles will be without third baseman Justin Turner, who was scratched from the starting lineup after failing to recover enough from a neck stinger suffered during batting practice prior to Game 1, manager Dave Roberts said.
Turner hit .278 this season, with 27 home runs and 87 RBI. Chris Taylor will start at third base instead.
The Dodgers opened the best-of-seven series with a 3-2 loss Saturday in Cumberland, Georgia, the fifth time in their seven 2021 postseason games they have been held to three runs or less.
“We threw up some hits. We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers out-hit the Braves, 10-6, but were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base in front of a crowd at Truist Park announced at 41,815.
The Dodgers lost a scoring opportunity in the ninth inning when Taylor was tagged out in a rundown for the final out trying to reach third from first on Cody Bellinger’s single.
“I think by the book he should have probably stayed,” Roberts said. “I think it was hit softly. It was kind of towards the gap and so I felt that he thought he had a good read on it.
“It’s kind of one of those where you got to pick. You either are going to go hard, and I don’t know if (Atlanta right fielder) Joc (Pederson) would have thrown to third right there and just conceded that base, or just hold up and two outs and give Mookie (Betts) a chance. But I think right there he was kind of caught in between. That’s kind of when you get in trouble.”
Austin Riley singled in Ozzie Albies with the winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Albies had singled with one out and stole second.
After scratching Scherzer, Roberts opted for a bullpen game, with reliever Corey Knebel starting for the second consecutive game.
The Dodgers used eight pitchers, with the last, Blake Treinen, charged with the loss, allowing one run and two hits in one-third of an inning.
Will Smith, the fourth and final Braves pitcher, was credited with the victory, allowing no runs and one hit in one inning with one walk. Braves starter Max Fried allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings, struck out five and did not walk a batter.
Knebel allowed a run in his lone inning of work. Eddie Rosario led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on Albies’ ground out and scored on Knebel’s two-out wild pitch.
The Dodgers tied the score in the second. AJ Pollock doubled with two outs and scored on Taylor’s single.
Will Smith homered leading off the Dodgers’ half of the fourth. He is not related to the Atlanta reliever.
Riley homered off Tony Gonsolin, the fourth Dodgers pitcher, in the bottom of the fourth, tying the score.
“We prevented runs all night, so we didn’t not win the game because we didn’t prevent runs,” Roberts said. “It’s just we just didn’t get the hits when we needed.”