October 14, 2020 | 10:38pm | Updated October 14, 2020 | 11:41pm
The sleeping dog awoke Wednesday night, swallowed the mailman whole and set the house ablaze.
After two straight losses to begin this NLCS, the Dodgers returned with a statement game — or more succinctly, first inning — and alerted the Braves this series is on again.
In an epic beatdown, the Dodgers scored 11 runs in the first inning of Game 3 and rolled to a 15-3 victory at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. And if their performance wasn’t enough of a momentum boost, the Dodgers plan to start ace Clayton Kershaw on Thursday, after he was scratched from a Game 2 with back spasms.
Joc Pederson, Edwin Rios and Max Muncy all homered in a first inning — during which the Dodgers sent 14 batters to the plate against Kyle Wright and Grant Dayton. Muncy’s blast was a grand slam. In all, the Dodgers’ turn at-bat took 32 minutes and didn’t end until they had established a postseason record for most runs in one inning.
“It was just a fun offensive night for us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
By the third inning, Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager had also homered, helping extend the Dodgers’ lead to 15-0. The five homers set a franchise record for a postseason game.
The Braves received strong starts from Max Fried and Ian Anderson in the first two games, but Wright never had a chance. The right-hander allowed seven earned runs on five hits and two walks, recording just two outs.
“We’re still in a good spot with four games left,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
As much as the Dodgers’ first-inning power display impressed, there were other subtle maneuvers. Included was Mookie Betts’ hustle to first base leading off the game. Johan Camargo’s off-balance throw from foul territory initially appeared to have gotten the out. The Dodgers challenged, and the call was overturned.
Before the game, Betts put the focus on himself for the team’s struggles in the series.
“I think it’s been said since the first day I set foot in LA, obviously there’s a lot of eyes watching and a lot of people that want us to come back with a ring, so I take ownership and I have to bring it back,” Betts said.
And then the bats were unleashed.
Seager followed Betts’ infield single with an RBI double before Wright retired Justin Turner and Muncy in succession. Will Smith doubled in a run and Bellinger walked before Pederson homered to put the Braves in a 5-0 hole. Rios then homered.
Chris Taylor walked, ending Wright’s night. Dayton walked Betts and allowed an RBI single to Seager before Turner stuck out his leg (clearly illegal) and was awarded first base on a hit by pitch. Muncy’s ensuing grand slam completed the historic inning.
The Dodgers had scored seven runs over the last three innings on Tuesday in putting a scare into the Braves, who held on for the 8-7 victory.
“I think some of the momentum from [Tuesday] night, the last inning, definitely carried over and got us feeling a little more comfortable at the plate,” Pederson said. “It was fun to be a part of.”
Julio Urias pitched five innings Wednesday and allowed one earned run on three hits with two walks for the best performance by a Dodgers starting pitcher in this series, not that it was needed.
About the only bright spot for the Braves was Snitker could remove Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Travis d’Arnaud in the middle innings to give them rest. Snitker noted that his bullpen didn’t incur a major workload thanks to Huascar Ynoa’s four innings of scoreless relief.
“Quite honestly, we’re in better shape than if we grinded out a 7-5 loss,” Snitker said. “If we had to lose a game, this is probably the best possible way.”