5 takeaways after Braves take 2-1 lead over Brewers in NLDS

October 11, 2021 Atlanta: Atlanta Braves pinch hitter Joc Pederson reacts after hitting a three-run home run during the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3 of the NLDS on Monday, October, 11, 2021, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

Credit: CURTIS COMPTON / AJC

October 11, 2021 Atlanta: Atlanta Braves pinch hitter Joc Pederson reacts after hitting a three-run home run during the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3 of the NLDS on Monday, October, 11, 2021, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Outfielder Joc Pederson smashed a pinch-hit three-run homer in the fifth inning, lifting the Braves to a 3-0 victory over the Brewers in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. The Braves lead the series, 2-1, and can advance to the NL Championship Series with another win at Truist Park on Tuesday.

Here are five takeaways from Monday:

1. Atlanta celebrated “Joctober” in style. Pederson belted a middle-high fastball from Brewers reliever Adrian Houser into the seats to snap a scoreless tie in the fifth. Pederson is 3-for-3 with two homers in the series. He’s further fortified his reputation as a player who excels in the postseason.

He’s a career .286 hitter with a .361 on-base percentage in October, hitting 11 homers with 24 RBIs in 67 games (he’s a .232 hitter with a .332 on-base percentage in the regular season). Pederson thrives in pivotal moments. He did so with the Dodgers for seven seasons, including their 2020 championship run, and he’s doing it now in the south.

“I think just every day preparing during the season and treat all the moments the same,” Pederson said of his playoff success. “And then not making any moments bigger than what they need to be. That’s how I look at it. I just feel like I do the same that I do during the year. But I don’t know, there’s no secret recipe. I wish there was.”

Pederson is the third player in postseason history with two pinch-hit homers during one playoff run. He’s the first to do it off the same pitcher (his Game 1 shot was also off Houser).

“I think the sample size is big enough that that’s just who he is,” shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “He was in an organization before coming here (Dodgers) that obviously had high expectations, just like we do. And he was thrown into pressure situations the last five or six years. It’s important to have those guys on your team come this time of year that you can throw them into any situation and you expect them to be able to produce. And he just comes up with big at-bat after big at-bat. I’m glad he’s on our team.”

2. Ian Anderson continued the Braves’ string of dominant starts. He allowed three runs over five scoreless innings, striking out six without a walk. Anderson was in control, stifling Brewers hitters with his change-up. The Brewers whiffed 10 times on 18 swings against the pitch.

“It was definitely a good pitch today for me,” Anderson said. “I saw Charlie (Morton) and Max (Fried) have the success with the big curveball. It’s tempting to go to that. That’s not really my style. The change-up was good. That’s the pitch I went to trying to get out of jams.”

3. Anderson escaped a sticky situation in the fifth, when the Brewers had runners at second and third with none out. Swanson made a diving catch and pinpoint throw to rob Lorenzo Cain of a hit and RBI. The Brewers, trying to snap their offensive drought, removed starter Freddy Peralta for pinch-hitter Daniel Vogelbach, who grounded into a fielder’s choice. The inning ended with Kolten Wong’s lineout to first.

It proved a game-determining sequence. Houser replaced Peralta, who’d logged four scoreless innings, setting up Pederson’s moment. Anderson has a 0.76 ERA in five postseason starts.

4. The collective line for Braves starters Morton, Fried and Anderson: 17 innings pitched, nine hits, two runs, 24 strikeouts and one walk. The Braves have conducted a masterclass in pitching against the team that had arguably the best staff in MLB during the regular season.

Brewers starters Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Peralta haven’t disappointed. They’ve collectively allowed three runs (all off Woodruff) in 14 innings. The Braves’ bullpen, however, has the edge, holding the Brewers scoreless over nine innings. Houser is the only Brewers reliever to surrender runs (four).

“I think it’s unheard of to throw up that many zeros for our pitching staff in a playoff series,” Pederson said. “(The Brewers have) definitely had opportunities to capitalize. Our pitchers are making quality pitches to get out of jams, which takes a lot of heart. You’ve got to tip your hat to that.”

5. A series-defining stat: The Braves and Brewers are 2-for-33 with runners in scoring position, but the Braves have both hits. Milwaukee is 0-for-16 with runners at second and third. The Braves have had just a few key hits in the low-scoring series, and that’s been enough to put them on the verge of advancing.

Stat to know

4 of 7 (Pederson has produced four of the Braves’ seven runs in the series, all via home run.)

Quotable

“I guess I’m just a pretty good player. I don’t know. Just knocked it out of the yard.” – Pederson when asked about the difficulty of hitting Houser’s pitch

E5

Braves Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, sitting left of the home dugout, dropped a foul ball early in the afternoon. The miscue prompted laughter from players, coaches and fans while becoming a hit on social media.

Attendance

41,479

Up next

The Braves and Brewers haven’t announced their starters for Game 4. Snitker said “everybody is on the table” for the Braves, including Morton on short rest.

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