LEADING OFF: Braves try again to eliminate Dodgers, reach WS

MLB

A look at what’s happening around the majors on Saturday:

ATLANTA’S ATTEMPT

Freddie Freeman and the Braves get another chance to earn a trip to the World Series when they host the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

And Atlanta won’t be facing Max Scherzer, either.

The Braves lead the matchup 3-2 after losing Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. They haven’t reached the World Series since 1999.

The Dodgers said Friday night that Scherzer had been scratched from his start Saturday night.

Scherzer was pulled after 4 1/3 innings in Game 2 with what he said was a dead arm on two days’ rest after getting his first career save in the Division Series finale at San Francisco. Los Angeles didn’t say who would pitch in place of Scherzer.

The Dodgers have won seven straight games when facing postseason elimination. That streak dates to last October when Mookie Betts and his teammates overcame a 3-1 deficit against Atlanta in the NLCS.

Freeman says the Braves must prove they won’t follow the same path to another collapse.

”It seems because every day it’s brought up the last couple days,” the Atlanta star said. ”So I don’t think we have a choice until we kill that narrative. We’re up 3-2 and we’re going home. That’s a great position to be in.”

Ian Anderson pitches for the Braves after lasting just three innings in Game 2.

ASCENDING ASTRO

With the way he’s swinging, Yordan Alvarez probably would prefer to keep playing every day. Still, the freshly minted MVP of the AL Championship Series and his Houston Astros get a little break before starting the World Series.

Alvarez went 4 for 4 with two doubles and a triple as Houston beat Boston 5-0 Friday night in Game 6. After missing last year’s postseason while recovering from double knee surgery, the 24-year-old slugger hit an ALCS-record .522 (12 for 23) with one homer, three doubles, a triple and six RBIs against the Red Sox.

Alvarez seven runs in the ALCS and got nine hits in his last 13 at-bats, raising his postseason average to .441 with two homers and nine RBIs. He hit .412 in the 2019 World Series loss to Washington, too.

The Astros are back in the World Series for the third time in five seasons. They’ll play Game 1 on Tuesday night, either at Dodger Stadium or home at Minute Maid Park against Atlanta.

The Braves lead Los Angeles 3-2 in the NLCS.

SUBS ON ORDER

After replacing third baseman Justin Turner (hamstring) with third baseman Andy Burns before Game 5, the Dodgers said they will propose replacing right-hander Joe Kelly (biceps) with left-hander David Price before Game 6. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Friday that Los Angeles also may ask to have left-hander Justin Bruihl (sore arm) replaced.

FEELING AT HOME

A year after the Astros lost last year’s AL Championship Series to Tampa Bay at neutral-site San Diego, manager Dusty Baker was happy to be in Houston with the home fans for this postseason.

A cheering crowd at Minute Maid Park watched the Astros earn a trip to the World Series by beating Boston 5-0 Friday night in Game 6 of the ALCS.

”The vibe is good, and I hear from a lot of people that are pulling for us,” Baker said before the clincher. ”It excites the whole city. People tell me they’re watching games when they don’t ordinarily watch games. There are fans where there — and I got a few fans that watch whatever team I’m on.”

”So, yeah, it’s been good, and part of the thing about being on a team is that you want to make your city proud. And I love those H-Town T-shirts, and I got about 32 requests of people all wanting my sweatshirt. Well, they can’t have it.”

NOT SO RILED UP

Since delivering a walk-off hit in Game 1, Austin Riley hasn’t contributed much for the Braves in the NLCS. The 24-year-old singled in the winning run off Blake Treinen in the ninth inning of the opener, but he’s 1 for 16 since and hasn’t had a hit since Game 2.

The breakout slugger bolstered Atlanta’s charge to a fourth straight NL East crown, hitting .303 with 33 homers, 107 RBIs and an .898 OPS in 160 games. He was just as good in an NL Division Series against Milwaukee, hitting .333 with a homer and a .908 OPS.

It’s the second straight year Riley has hit a wall in the NLCS. While Atlanta blew a 3-1 lead in the 2020 semifinal round to the Dodgers, Riley batted .143 with 10 strikeouts in 28 at-bats.

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