Who Will Be the Core Performer for Dodgers-Braves Game 2?
Hard to be hating life if you're a Dodgers fan right now.
There are good ways to start a playoff series, and then there's what Los Angeles did to the Braves in Game 1 of the NLDS. Between Clayton Kershaw fanning 12 batters and Adrian Gonzalez's two-run homer, it couldn't get much better for the Dodgers in their 6-1 victory over Atlanta on Thursday.
But can they do it again? Obviously no Kershaw for Game 2, but plenty of players could be a core performer for LA while they try to take a commanding lead in the series. As for Atlanta? A couple solid performances from their roster, and this series is tied.
After what he did last night, then Gonzalez has to lead this list. His two-run homer in the fourth inning gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead, which was more than enough cushion for Kershaw. With Matt Kemp out for the postseason, Gonzalez providing the power will be key.
Taking the hill after what Kershaw did is a tough act to follow, though Greinke certainly has the stuff to shut down Atlanta. The Game 2 starter for LA fared well in his last outing against the Braves, allowing no runs over seven innings of work. He's been solid all year. Now it's time to see if we can do it in the postseason.
LA's shortstop only had one hit in five at-bats, but he made it count by slapping a run-scoring double to right field to pad the Dodgers' lead. Ramirez finished the regular season with the best average of his career (.345), and he's primed to do damage in the playoffs as well.
Who Will Be Game 2's Core Performer
If the Braves want to climb back into this series, then a strong outing from Minor would be Step 1. The 25-year-old lefty had what MLB.com called a "breakout" season, finishing up with a 3.21 ERA. If he can control this game and the bats wake up, then Atlanta has a chance of making this a series.
Heyward went 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in Game 1. Not the worst performance ever, but Atlanta's leadoff hitter certainly can do more. Though he finished the season with a rather pedestrian .254 average, Heyward can erase all the thoughts of the regular season if he starts some rallies off in this series.
This week's SI cover boy did nothing to dispel the old "curse" associated with the magazine in Game 1 by going 0-for-4. But given the opportunity, Upton can use the long ball to make the Dodgers pay. He finished the regular season with 27 homers, and if he can get a hold of one, it could shift the tenor of this series.
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