Apparently, these are the same Dodgers.
Once again, they are no joke.
The Braves on Tuesday lost to Los Angeles, 8-1, at Truist Park. The Braves, losers of both games in this series, will try to avoid a sweep on Wednesday.
1. The Dodgers did not grab as many headlines as usual over the offseason. They let Trea Turner walk. They did not sign any superstars. They were … unusually quiet.
Did you think they would have a drop-off?
It is understandable if you did. But think again.
There’s a lot of season left, but the Dodgers look like contenders – again. Different roster, same consistent tenacity.
And that includes the two rookies who started on the mound against the Braves in the first two games of this series, as well as the other new faces impacting the lineup.
“The Dodgers are one of the better organizations, I would say, from top to bottom,” Matt Olson said. “They develop guys well. I think the case is a lot of these guys have maybe been waiting a little longer than they would other places. While they’re young, it doesn’t mean they’re not talented.
“I think we know the Dodgers are a solid organization there.”
2. Before Tuesday, 34 pitchers had made their debuts with a start versus the Braves since 2000. They combined to go 7-17 with a 6.16 ERA.
Consider Bobby Miller an outlier.
Miller completed five innings of one-run baseball versus a dangerous lineup. He allowed four hits, struck out five and walked one. Miller retired nine of the final 10 Braves he faced.
“He’s got a really nice arm and a feel for some offspeed stuff,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That’s pretty good right there. He didn’t labor to throw. That’s a good-looking pitcher.”
Here’s how hard Miller throws: He hurled the 24 fastest pitches of the game, and did this while facing Spencer Strider, a flamethrower himself.
But the impressive part was his pitch mix. He threw 29 four-seam fastballs, but hurled 25 sliders, 23 changeups, 11 curveballs and seven sinkers.
“I think that was probably the thing that stood out,” Olson said. “He had pretty good feel with the secondary stuff as well. You see a young guy coming up who’s got a 100-mph fastball, you don’t know if it’s just going to be a guy kind of up there throwing hard. Didn’t think that was the case.”
3. The Dodgers took control with a three-run second inning, which soured Strider’s outing a bit.
“Just a couple of pitches,” he said of his start. “Normally, everybody gets away with a few mistakes a game. Didn’t tonight, so you’ve got to give credit to them.”
Former Brave Jason Heyward led off the inning with a home run on a pitch above the zone. Credit to Heyward.
The stretch that stung more came later in the inning.
Olson committed a two-out error. “You can’t give them extra outs,” Snitker said. Or extra chances.
Strider had Mookie Betts at 0-2, then lost him. He spiked a slider to Freddie Freeman, then the Braves intentionally walked their former star. Then Strider left a slider over the heart of the plate, and Will Smith smoked a two-run double.
“I think they’re just talented,” Strider said. “They’re some of the better hitters in the league on that team. They have good approaches. … If you make mistakes, they’re capable of making you pay.”
Added Snitker: “They’re very patient, they walk a lot and they slug.”
This rough inning partially took the shine off Strider’s 10th career double-digit strikeout game – he struck out 11 Dodgers.
4. The Braves have scored 42 runs in the first inning, most in the majors. The latest crossed home on Austin Riley’s double.
Then the bats went cold. They never scored again.
After Monday’s game, Snitker mentioned the club’s inability to add runs after the first. It happened again.
“I wish I had the key to that, or the potion that would help it,” he said. “Just one of them things. You want to do it, guys want to do it and all that. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”
The Braves were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position versus Miller, and finished 0-for-7. They left six men on base.
5. After Strider exited after six innings, Collin McHugh allowed a run in the seventh. Michael Tonkin served up a three-run bomb in the ninth.
The Braves’ bullpen has allowed at least a run in four straight games, including six of them over two games in this series.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ bullpen has permitted only a run over nine innings in their two wins here.
Dodgers 8, Braves 1
Stat to know
0-for-22 - Over his last six games, Michael Harris II is 0-for-22. Snitker gave him the day off on Tuesday, believing it might be beneficial for Harris to simply watch the game, see everything from a different vantage point and take the pressure off himself.
“Just a couple of times I didn’t execute. Sometimes you get away with it – and more times than not, you do – but they’re talented, they’ll make you pay.” - Strider on his outing
In Wednesday’s series finale, Braves right-hander Bryce Elder will pitch against Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin. First pitch is at 7:20 p.m.
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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com