The Los Angeles Dodgers will begin play in the World Series Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, seeking their first championship since 1988.
“We have a lot of work to do,” manager Dave Roberts said Sunday at Globe Life Field after receiving the trophy for being the National League champion for the third time in four years.
“But for the Dodgers fans who are here, the ones who aren’t here, we love you, we’re thinking about you, and this year is our year! This is our year!”
The Dodgers completed the greatest postseason comeback in their fabled history Sunday with a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves to win the National League Championship Series four games to three.
The Dodgers became the 14th MLB team in 89 tries to overcome a three-games-to-one deficit to win a best-of-seven series. This was the 10th time the Dodgers trailed a postseason series three games to one but the first time they overcame that deficit.
Cody Bellinger hit a tie-breaking homer in the seventh inning after Kike Hernandez hit a pinch-hit solo homer in the sixth to tie the score. Bellinger and Hernandez both homered after fouling off three 2-2 pitches.
Three pitchers held the Braves hitless over the final six innings after the Dodgers trailed 2-0 through two innings.
Dodger shortstop Corey Seager was selected as the NLCS MVP after setting NLCS records for home runs (five) and RBI with (11).
“That was pretty cool,” Seager said. “Obviously, it wasn’t just me though. That was a complete team effort right there, one through 28 went out there and just absolutely grinded through that series.”
This is the third time the Dodgers have reached the World Series since 1988. They lost in seven games to the Houston Astros in the 2017 Series and in five games to the Boston Red Sox a year later.
This will be the fourth time in the Wild Card Era, which began in 1995, that the teams in both leagues with the best records will meet in the World Series.
The entire Series will be played at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, like the NLCS. The final three rounds of baseball’s postseason are being played at neutral sites in an attempt to reduce the possibility of spreading the coronavirus.
This will be the first time the entire World Series is being played at the same stadium since 1944, when the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the St. Louis Browns in six games at Sportsman’s Park, the home stadium for both teams.
Hernandez’s home run off A.J. Minter was the third game-tying home run in the sixth inning or later in a Game 7, joining Del Crandall of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1958 World Series and Rajai Davis of the Cleveland Indians in the 2016 World Series.
“I was able to stay inside the zone and spoil some pitches once I got to two strikes,” Hernandez said after becoming the first player with a game-tying or go-ahead pinch-hit home run in a winner-take-all game.
“He made one mistake and I was lucky enough to put a good swing on it.”
Chris Martin, the fifth of six Atlanta pitchers, was charged with the loss. Bellinger’s home run was the only hit he allowed in 1 1/3 innings, which included three strike outs.
After allowing single runs in the first and second, the Dodgers tied the score 2-2 in the third. Justin Turner battled back from a 1-2 count to draw a walk from Ian Anderson with two outs, moved to third on Max Muncy’s double and scored on Will Smith’s single.
The Braves regained the lead in the top of the fourth. Ozzie Albies drew a full-count walk from Tony Gonsolin, stole second and scored one batter later on Austin Riley’s single.
Blake Treinen relieved Gonsolin. With Nick Markakis at the plate, Treinen’s wild pitch advanced Dansby Swanson, who had walked, to third and Riley to second.
Markakis grounded to third baseman Justin Turner. Swanson, who was attempting to score, was trapped in a rundown after Turner’s throw to catcher Will Smith. Smith threw back to Turner who dove to tag out Swanson. Turner then immediately threw to Seager, who tagged out Riley who had broken for third.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in their half of the fourth, but failed to score when Max Muncy struck out to end the inning.
Dodger right fielder Mookie Betts denied Atlanta a run in the fifth, leaping and extending his glove over the yellow line denoting the top of the fence to rob Freddie Freeman of a home run.
The Braves, batting as the visiting team, opened the scoring in the first off rookie right-hander Dustin May. Leadoff hitter Ronald Acuna Jr. walked on four pitches and stole second. Freeman also walked on four pitches, prompting a visit to the mound by pitching coach Mark Prior.
Marcell Ozuna, the third Atlanta hitter, singled in Acuna.
Gonsolin replaced May to start the second inning and allowed a home run to Swanson on his third pitch.