Dodgers top Braves in NLDS Game 2: Kershaw at his best as Los Angeles nears NLCS bid

The Dodgers behind a strong start from ace Clayton Kershaw and home runs from Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal blanked the Braves 3-0 in Game 2 of the NLDS in Los Angeles. The Dodgers now lead 2-0 in the best-of-five series, which means they need one more win in order to advance to the NLCS for a third straight year. 

Here’s what you need to know about Braves vs. Dodgers Game 2:

Kershaw was in vintage form

Yeah, we all know about Kershaw’s postseason reputation and occasional struggles (he entered Game 2 with a playoff ERA of 4.35 in 122 innings), but he delivered in a big way against Atlanta … 

No, he didn’t strike out many, but Kershaw’s deep repertoire allows him to keep hitters off balance despite declining velocity. He also benefited from some good defense behind him (including a couple of nifty plays he himself made). Efficiency was the name of the game, as Kershaw was at just 60 pitches (!) through six innings. He was at 73 pitches after seven and 85 through eight (the first time in his postseason career that he pitched into the eighth inning). 

Despite Kershaw’s low pitch count, Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for the save. Kershaw’s gem, though, remained the story. Going back to his start in Game 7 of the World Series last year, Kershaw has now pitched 13 straight scoreless innings in the postseason.

The Braves are yet to score a run in the NLDS

The Braves lost Game 1 6-0 and then got blanked in Game 2. During the regular season, the Braves ranked a respectable fifth in the NL in runs scored, and this marked not only the first time all season that they’ve been shut out in back-to-back games, but the first time it’s happened in franchise history. Stranger still is that the Braves offense during the regular season was significantly better against left-handed pitching, and they faces lefty starters in both Game 1 and Game 2. 

Machado struck early

Dodgers infielder Manny Machado got things going in the first inning with a two-out bomb off Anibal Sanchez that came on a 3-0 count … 

Machado now has three home runs on 3-0 counts, and they’ve all come this season. He’s also pretty well owned Sanchez in his career, so that trend certainly continued. That’s Machado’s second career postseason home run and his first since the 2012 ALDS, when he was a rookie with the Orioles

The underrated Yasmani Grandal later followed with a homer of his own. 

The odds are now heavily against the Braves

As noted, the Braves are down 0-2 in this best-of-five NLDS, which means they’ll need to win three straight in order to advance to the NLCS. That’s of course not likely to happen … 

  • In all, 78 best-of-five MLB postseason series have started off 2-0. 
  • Of those, 46 (59 percent) ended in sweeps. 
  • Just 10 (12.8 percent) of those 78 series saw the team down 0-2 come back to win the series in question. 

So history suggests the Braves are far more likely to get swept than come back to pull off the minor miracle. 

Up next

Game 3 will be Sunday in Atlanta with the Braves on the brink of elimination. The starting pitchers have not yet been announced. 

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