Cody Bellinger makes a crucial save with a three-run homer to tie the Dodgers and Braves in eighth inning. (0:42).
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts summarised the gravity of the moment best with the words, "It just flipped all."
Roberts was describing Cody Bellinger's three-run homer that scored more than just tying the score in the eighth inning. It may have saved the bid of the defending champs to win it all over again.
Bellinger's dazzling performance electrified the to-the-point tense Dodger Stadium crowd. He erased a 5-2 Atlanta lead, and set up Mookie Betts for his go-ahead double just a few batters later. The Dodgers defeated the Braves 6-5 on Tuesday, despite a series deficit of 3-0. They can now even the National League Championship Series in game 4 on Wednesday.
Roberts stated, "Man, it was pure joy, elation." It's hard to imagine a greater hit.
The Dodgers seemed to be at the brink of an almost insurmountable series deficit. This sudden turnaround was quick and spectacular.
Betts stated, "It's impossible to not be aware [of the deficit]", But I believe that is a weak way of thinking about things. Our mindset was, "Why are we going to concentrate on that when it is here now, we have the ability to win this game now?"
Bellinger's homerun was still unexpected, but it is important to remember that this was in context. After some mechanical adjustments in the final season, Bellinger had been performing better. This was a player that hit.165 in 350 plate appearances during regular season.
Even more stunning? Even more impressive was the tying pitch that came from a fastball of Luke Jackson, a Braves reliever at 96 mph. It was well beyond the strike zone. In a nutshell it was a pitch that Bellinger could not hit out of the park. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the pitch was 4.12 feet above the ground. Since at least 2008, no one has ever homered on a pitch this fast during the postseason.
Bellinger also had never homered on a pitch outside of the strike zone throughout the season.
Bellinger stated, "Yeah it's not a pitch by a hitter right there."
That's exactly what happened. After Bellinger's home run ignited the crowd, Chris Taylor walked and knocked Jackson out of the game. He took second base, which was crucial because pinch-hitter Matt Beaty grounded on what may have been a double play ball. Betts drove to the fence and scored Taylor.
It happened at lightning speed. It was difficult to reconcile the excitement in the stadium with the sense of imminent doom that had hung over Chavez Ravine a few moments before.
Roberts stated, "We were dead in water." It was visible.
Five outs from going down 3-0 in this series, the Dodgers were within striking distance of losing it. This was a deficit that only the 2004 Red Sox had overcome in the postseason, a team Roberts played for. Los Angeles was the first team to fall 2-0 in a series that saw them come back from three runs behind after the fifth.
This brings back some very bad memories, but also some good ones for the Braves. Atlanta held a lead of two games over the Dodgers last year. The outcome of Game 3 was very different. It was a 15-3 L.A. win, but Atlanta won Game 5 to move up 3-1. The Dodgers won three consecutive games and advanced to the World Series. This is the first time Atlanta has reached the World Series since 1999.
Despite the collapse of last year, Brian Snitker, Braves manager, seemed unconcerned about his team's mentality.
Snitker laughed and said, "Hell, it's not even possible to remember how I felt last time." "Our guys get more battle-tested every year. Today was a great game. There were many great things that happened and we didn’t get any pitch back.
In Game 4, the Dodgers will be joined by 20-game winner Julio Urias. Snitker's team will accompany a parade, which is yet to be determined. Even a Braves win may not be enough to restore the momentum that they gained with their two Atlanta victories in the final inning.
All of this is due to one Bellinger blow that revived the faltering hopes of the defending champs. A blow so unlikely that even the player who struck it was trying to understand it at the postgame press conference. That was until Betts and the rest of us clarified it.
Bellinger stated, "Honestly, it was as strange as it was." "I saw it, and I tried to take a good swing at it. It's one of those things.
Betts, a former MVP, interrupts to remind his teammate, that he is just very good.
Betts replied, "Tell them Belli." They're great, but they don't drive a Mercedes Benz.