The Atlanta Braves punched their ticket to their first World Series in over two decades Saturday, toppling the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 to wrap up the National League Championship Series in six games.
The Braves, who will face the Houston Astros in Major League Baseball’s Fall Classic, rolled over the Dodgers by jumping on their starting pitcher Walker Buehler in the first inning.
The win ended a string of heartbreaking potential elimination losses for the Braves who had four previous chances in the last two years to book a trip to the World Series but failed.
Atlanta advanced to their sixth World Series all-time and their first since 1999.
“It is amazing. This organization has been around a long time and it has been a long time since we got to the World Series,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman.
“We took it to another level with what we did in the second half (regular season) and postseason.”
The World Series starts Tuesday in Houston, which will host the first two games before they switch to Atlanta.
The turning point Saturday was a three-run fourth inning that featured a 361-foot home run to right field by slugger Eddie Rosario, who scored teammates Travis d’Arnaud and Ehire Adrianza. Rosario’s blast landed just inside the right outfield pole.
“I’m at a loss for words to be honest,” Rosario said. “I gave everything I had for the team, for a World Series. I just left it all out there. I’m extremely proud of myself and the team for getting to the World Series.”
Last season the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series in six games for their first championship since 1988.
Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson got the final out, snagging a ground ball and throwing to first to get Dodgers AJ Pollock out, sparking a wild celebration on the field around Braves closer Will Smith.
Last season, the Braves took a commanding 3-1 series lead in the NLCS over the Dodgers, giving them three chances to advance to the World Series.
But Los Angeles brushed aside all of those Atlanta opportunities, doing it in the neutral-site stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Saturday’s loss snapped the Dodgers’ run of winning seven consecutive playoff elimination games.
The Dodgers pitching staff were in trouble before Saturday’s game even began. Los Angeles was expected to start Max Scherzer, but the ace right-hander was scratched from the start.
Scherzer gave up two runs over four innings of game two on Sunday and said that his arm was too sore to pitch in game six.
The Dodgers instead had to turn to Buehler on short rest. Buehler was initially scheduled to start a potential game seven on Sunday.
The Braves made a couple of clutch defensive plays in the top of the sixth inning, including a one-hop snag at first base by dual American-Canadian citizen Freeman to get Dodgers baserunner Trea Turner out.