Dodgers top Brewers in nailbiter to tie 1-1 in the NLCS

Justin Turner
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The Dodgers clinched their first Championship Series win on Saturday, defeating the Brewers 4-3 in Game 2 to snap their rivals’ 12-game winning streak and even the standings in the NLCS. With the win, they’ll also receive the opportunity to clinch a World Series berth at home, as the next three games are scheduled to play out at Dodger Stadium. Given how close the last two games have been, however, it’s looking less and less likely that either team will completely dominate the series.

Case in point: both left-handed starters Wade Miley and Hyun-Jin Ryu were hot out of the gate, keeping baserunners to a minimum as they coasted through four scoreless innings. In the top of the first inning, David Freese whacked a long line drive out to the center field fence in what would have been a surefire home run had Lorenzo Cain not leapt backward to retrieve it.

Ryu, on the other hand, didn’t see a real threat at the plate until the third inning, when Miley hit a double out to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2013. Nothing came of the hit, though, as Cain struck out on a change-up in the dirt and Christian Yelich grounded out to end the inning.

In the fifth, the Brewers finally caught another break against Ryu. Orlando Arcia took a first-pitch cutter and returned it to center field for a home run. Miley and Cain went back to back with a single and double (clocked at a staggering 113.2 MPH), respectively, prompting Dave Roberts to pull his left-hander with just one out and runners on second and third. Ryan Madson stepped in to replace Ryu and minimized the damage as best he could: first, with an intentional walk to Yelich, then with a run-scoring groundout from Ryan Braun that boosted the Brewers’ lead to 2-0.

By the middle of the sixth, Miley was closing in on 75 pitches, and a two-out single from Chris Taylor signaled the end of his outing. He finished his first Championship Series start with 5 2/3 innings of two-hit, three-strikeout ball, marking the first time since 2000 that a starting pitcher has allowed four (or fewer) baserunners in back-to-back scoreless outings in the postseason (h/t Matthew Stein). Per MLB.com’s Andrew Simon, his double and single also marked the first multi-hit game by a pitcher (including at least one extra-base hit) since Chris Carpenter’s two-hit performance in the 2012 NLDS.

With Miley retired to the dugout for the remainder of the afternoon, the Dodgers seized their opportunity against Milwaukee’s ‘pen. Corbin Burnes walked Max Muncy to start the seventh, then gave up the first run of the day after Manny Machado and Cody Bellinger snapped the shutout on a pair of base hits. The freebies didn’t end there: Jeremy Jeffress relieved Burnes and promptly gave up a hit to Joc Pederson to load the bases, then walked Austin Barnes to gift the Dodgers their second run of the game.

In the eighth, things only got worse for Milwaukee. Taylor chopped a base hit out toward third base and came around to score when Justin Turner unleashed a 388-foot, double-deck shot into the left field bleachers for his first home run of the postseason — and the Dodgers’ first lead of Game 2.

Unlike Friday’s last-minute rally attempt, this one actually stuck. In the ninth, Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen subbed in for his first appearance of the NLCS and induced a pop-out from Arcia for the first out of the inning. Hernan Perez clawed his way through a six-pitch at-bat to take a walk, but neither Cain nor Yelich were able to skirt Jansen’s cutter and drive in the winning run. Cain went down swinging on three straight pitches, and Yelich’s game-ending groundout brought the Brewers’ dominant 12-game winning streak to its inevitable end as the Dodgers evened the series with a 4-3 victory.

The teams will take a travel day on Sunday before resuming the series at Dodger Stadium on Monday night. This time, it’ll be a matchup of righties, with Walker Buehler and Jhoulys Chacín scheduled to face off at 7:39 PM EDT.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.