Dodgers receive World Series rings in pregame ceremony

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers received their World Series rings Friday in front of the loyal hometown fans who didn’t get to witness their 2020 championship run in person.

Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts and the Dodgers collected their jewelry before Los Angeles’ home opener. The team also raised a championship banner behind center field to the roars of a Chavez Ravine crowd that made up for its pandemic-limited numbers with joyous noise.

Those fans never got into Dodger Stadium to witness their team’s run to its first championship in 32 years. The Dodgers were well aware their ring ceremony was a cathartic moment for both the players and their millions of fans who were forced to enjoy a title run from afar.

“We’ve had a year that we could have never imagined,” said Dodgers owner Mark Walter, who hoped the championship season could “serve as an inspiration to finish this fight against the terrible pandemic, and to continue the fight for justice and equality for everyone.”

The Dodgers introduced each player with a congratulatory video from one of his baseball heroes. Will Clark congratulated Kershaw, who idolized the Rangers first baseman growing up in the Dallas area, while Betts – who only joined the Dodgers last year – got congratulations from Jimmy Rollins before receiving his first-ever ovation from Los Angeles’ fans.

Dodgers fans also roared particularly loudly for veteran Justin Turner and for Julio Urias, who got the final ring. The Dodgers’ homegrown Mexican left-hander smoothly recorded the final seven outs of the World Series clincher over Tampa Bay.

Left-hander David Price got a World Series ring despite opting out of his first season with Los Angeles due to the pandemic, but the veteran announced he is auctioning the ring to benefit The Players Alliance and its social justice causes.

The Dodgers also took a moment to honor Tommy Lasorda, the beloved former manager who died in January, just over two months after he witnessed Los Angeles’ championship-clinching victory in Texas.

Lasorda’s daughter, Laurel, spoke briefly to the crowd.

“Rest assured he’s smiling today and his spirit is with each and every one of us,” she said.

She introduced Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who pointed skyward on his way to receive his ring.

Dodgers owner Magic Johnson and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti – who was booed – raised the 2020 championship banner on a flagpole beyond center field.

Kershaw and several teammates put on their rings immediately after receiving the box, triumphantly flashing them for the cameras. The rings are stacked with hundreds of diamonds and sapphires totaling 11 karats.

Enrique Hernandez and Joc Pederson missed the ceremony after leaving the Dodgers during the offseason.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.