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The Empire Strikes Back

Julio Urias

Julio Urias

Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

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Julio Urias yielded one run over five innings, and even kicked off the scoring with an RBI single against opposing starter Kevin Gausman in the second inning, as the Dodgers responded from a lifeless offensive effort in the series opener with a decisive 9-2 victory on Saturday evening in Game 2 of the NLDS against the Giants at Oracle Park.

Given the abundance of playoff-tested veterans on the Dodgers’ roster, it felt like only a matter of time before they responded in this series, especially after being completely dominated by right-hander Logan Webb, who recorded 10 strikeouts over 7 2/3 scoreless frames on Friday evening in the opening contest of the best-of-five series. On the heels of five solid frames from Urias to begin the contest, the Dodgers’ offense went to work in the middle innings. Trea Turner smacked a leadoff double before Will Smith and Chris Taylor walked to load the bases for Cody Bellinger, who kicked off a four-run explosion in the sixth inning with a towering two-run double to left-center field, which fell just a few feet shy of a grand slam, against righty reliever Dominic Leone. Ensuing batter A.J. Pollock capped the much-needed outburst with a two-run double of his own, giving the Dodgers a commanding 6-1 lead, which they wouldn’t relinquish.

After splitting a pair of contests in San Francisco, the highly-anticipated first-ever postseason series between the long-time rivals will shift to Los Angeles for a Game 3 showdown on Monday evening. The Dodgers will hand the ball to veteran righty Max Scherzer for the second time this postseason, while the Giants will counter with a former Dodger, left-hander Alex Wood, for his first playoff start since 2017.[[ad:athena]]

Fried Flummoxes Brewers, Braves Even NLDS

Max Fried emerged as one of the premier starting pitchers in baseball during the second half of the 2021 campaign, and managed to carry that momentum into his first playoff start, scattering three hits and recording nine strikeouts over six scoreless frames on Saturday night as the Braves edged the Brewers 3-0 in Game 2 of the NLDS at Miller Park.

Fried generated 12 swinging strikes and relentlessly pounded the strike zone, throwing a whopping 58 of 81 pitches for strikes to finish with an elite 40 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs), to outduel Brewers co-ace Brandon Woodruff, who yielded just three runs over six frames to take the loss in this one. With their burgeoning ace dealing on the mound, the Braves offense rose to the occasion as Freddie Freeman opened the scoring with an RBI single to right field in the third inning and Ozzie Albies followed with an RBI double later in the frame. Austin Riley, who crushed a career-high 33 round-trippers during the regular season, plated a key insurance run with a gargantuan 428-foot solo shot to right-center field off Woodruff in the sixth inning. The Brewers had plenty of chances, especially in the later frames against Braves relievers Luke Jackson, Tyler Matzek and Will Smith, but went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight runners on-base in the loss.

With the series tied at one game apiece, it’ll most likely be electrifying right-hander Freddy Peralta taking the ball for the Brewers in Game 3 on Monday night at Truist Park in Atlanta, while the Braves will counter with righty Ian Anderson,

Sunday’s Slate

ALDS Game 3 - Rays vs. Red Sox - 4:07 PM

(Series tied 1-1)

After splitting a pair of contests in Tampa Bay, the series shifts to historic Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon with righty Drew Rasmussen taking the ball for the Rays and the Red Sox sending playoff-tested righty Nathan Eovaldi to the mound for his second start of the 2021 postseason.

ALDS Game 3 - Astros vs. White Sox - 8:07 PM

(Astros lead series 2-0)

The Astros have an opportunity to punch their ticket to the ALCS on Sunday night with righty Luis Garcia on the mound for his first career playoff start. The White Sox will attempt to avoid elimination and force a Game 4, which would likely be started by Carlos Rodon, by handing the ball to righty Dylan Cease at Guaranteed Rate Field for his first-ever postseason outing.

MLB Quick Hits: Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters on Saturday that Nick Pivetta is likely to start Game 4 against the Rays on Monday … White Sox manager Tony La Russa said Saturday that there is “some optimism” for Carlos Rodón pitching in Game 4 on Monday … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters Saturday that Max Muncy (elbow) is getting more range of motion in his injured left elbow … Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Saturday that they’re still hopeful Brandon Belt (thumb) will be ready for the NLCS … Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network reported Saturday that the Rays are concerned Matt Wisler sustained a right middle finger injury during Friday’s Game 2 loss to the Red Sox … Mike Foltynewicz has elected free agency after refusing an outright assignment to Triple-A.