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World Series 2020 — Randy Arozarena shines brightest in Tampa Bay Rays’ no-star approach to owning October



Let us all, as fans of America’s game, mull over the ramifications of what we have just seen: The Tampa Bay Rays are going to the World Series. And Randy Arozarena was the MVP of an American League Championship Series that featured Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, George Springer and Zack Greinke.

Even as we wait to see who emerges from another Game 7 on Sunday, when the Los Angeles Dodgers face the Atlanta Braves in Texas, let’s acknowledge how in the year of a pandemic, we are on the cusp of a World Series. It’s going to happen. For so long, that didn’t seem possible.

Next, let’s acknowledge that everyone who picked the Rays to win the AL pennant before the shortened season began in July was spot-on. (This writer was not one of them. Thanks, Yankees.) But let’s also revisit the rationale for picking the Rays back then, because that has been on full display throughout this postseason. A lot has been on display during this long postseason.

“You might think a 60-game season, you get to the postseason and it’s just not the same,” Rays Game 7 starter Charlie Morton said. “But I have looked across the dugout in every team we played this postseason, and I know the guys we were playing, they care, they want to win. Probably more so this year than any other year. The motivation is doing it for each other.”

The forecasted love for Tampa Bay had more to do with the Rays’ pitching operation than their hitting. Because the Rays have featured a decentralized, crowd-sourced pitching structure for many years, they seemed well-suited to the frantic, 60-game campaign we ended up with. Starters wouldn’t be built up. No one, really, would be built up. So a club with exceptional pitching depth and a plan for disparate pitcher usage would be well-situated.

If that doesn’t sound like the Rays, nothing does. Sure enough, as the ALCS played out, Tampa Bay’s organizational approach emerged as a moment-by-moment proof of concept.

“The way we have just acquired talent through our minor leagues and trades, it’s incredible what [general manager] Erik Neander and the front office have done,” Kevin Kiermaier said. “It really is. They made a great roster, and that’s why our talent and depth is what it is. If I’ve said anything, it’s that if there’s any staff that can shut down the hot-hitting Astros, it’s our staff.”

True enough, but you also have to score. The issue for the Rays’ offense was that their most productive hitters during the regular season were not being productive during the playoffs — Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle, Willy Adames and Michael Brosseau among them. So others stepped up, including usually light-hitting catcher Mike Zunino and semi-regular outfielder Manny Margot.

But no one typified the next-man-up dynamic of the Rays more than Arozarena.

Arozarena broke into the majors last season and raked — for St. Louis. He had a .891 OPS over just 19 games and went hitless in four plate appearances during the playoffs. Then he was traded, along with Jose Martinez (since dealt) in exchange for pitching prospect Matthew Liberatore.

Well, players move around the major leagues, right? Arozarena looked good during his brief stint for St. Louis, but sometimes players look good in short stints and get flipped because their original team knows why that success is going to be fleeting. The only problem is that once the Rays inquire about a player, they’ve proved time and again that your best response probably should be, “No, thank you.” Because if the Rays like your player, then there is something very much to be liked.

“I wouldn’t say I was chasing MVP,” Arozarena said through an interpreter. “I was just trying to do everything for the team.”

He almost did. This is not to hammer on the Cardinals, although as the years play out, perhaps it will be impossible not to do that. But who possibly could have conceived that Arozarena would be doing what he’s being doing this postseason?

Look, players get on hot streaks. It happens all the time, and when a player gets on a roll, he isn’t necessarily headed for Cooperstown. Postseason series are by definition a parade of small sample sizes, so you figure that there are always going to be plenty of unsung heroes available to populate playoff narratives.

Yet, what Arozarena has done is not normal. It’s not routine. Others have gotten as hot as he has during the postseason, but if you have any conception of baseball history, his name is going to jump of the list of hottest postseasons and poke you in the eye. Among players who put up a higher OPS than Arozarena’s 1.288 over at least 50 playoff plate appearances, you find only Barry Bonds (1.559 in 2002), Carlos Beltran (1.557 in 2004), Paul Molitor (1.378 in 1993) and Alex Rodriguez (1.308 in 2009).

Then there is Arozarena. One of those names is not like the others.

“Ever since I got traded over, it’s felt like a family,” Arozarena said. “They welcomed me with open arms, and they gave me the freedom to be the player I want to be.”

But that’s the Rays. Just ask Zunino, who homered again in Game 7 and was picked up in a zero-buzz trade last year from the Mariners. Just ask Austin Meadows, rescued from prospect-bust status from Pittsburgh. Ask Manny Margot, who just dominated in a series played on the home field of the Padres — the club that shipped him away last winter.

There are so many similar stories. The common denominator is a lesson that sounds simple, but if it really was, every team would have learned it. The lesson the Rays have learned is that if you focus on what a player can do, rather than what he cannot, and you put him in position to do that thing he does well, that player can excel. Then, as a team, if you surround that player with other players who do complementary things well, it all adds up a good baseball team. Granted, none of this is fodder for a sexy World Series teaser. But, damn, it sure is effective.

“Man, it feels awesome,” Zunino said. “This is beyond my wildest dreams here. I feel extremely grateful. This group of guys, this organization, what we had to endure this year. It is a special group.”

Beyond the everybody-does-his-part aspect of the playing roster, there are the machinations of manager Kevin Cash, who is a kind of oddly enthusiastic Vulcan as dugout logicians go. He speaks in the no-ego, it’s all-about-the-players style of a successful College World Series coach putting on a front for potential recruits. But he’s also a merciless adherent to the actuarial side of the game, following best analytic practices as if he had the dead emotional life of Spock.

Time and again, to the consternation of baseball lifers, his interpretation of quantitative principles is spot-on. It happened again in the clincher.

Charlie Morton, the veteran Rays starter who played a key role in the Astros’ 2017 championship, was on his game. After five innings, he had retired 13 straight Houston hitters and used just 49 pitches. No Rays pitcher has thrown a complete game since May 14, 2016, when Matt Andriese did it, but could it happen again? After all, given Morton’s dominance and minimal pitch count, why would you remove him?

After striking out Josh Reddick on three pitches to start the sixth, Morton walked Martin Maldonado on four pitches. Springer rolled into a forceout. Altuve singled, but it was an infield chopper that was perfectly placed. Morton was at 66 pitches, and while there was traffic on the bases, he still looked like a pitcher in command of the game.

So, of course, Cash took him out. And, of course, it was the right move.

“The thought to go get him, I think we need to stay consistent with what we think is the right decision,” Cash said. “That is not to say [the decisions] are not tough. They certainly are. We’re just so appreciative of Charlie Morton, what he brings to our club on the field and definitely in the clubhouse.”

Nick Anderson — the Rays’ closer — came on to escape that sixth-inning jam. He did just that, then pitched the seventh, and by the time he exited for Pete Fairbanks, he’d gotten six outs. Fairbanks got the last four. Overall, the Rays threw just 114 pitches in the game, easily within Morton’s capability had he been left in to go the distance. But that’s not how these Rays do things.

Now the Rays are in the World Series. Just like in 2008, the other Tampa Bay pennant season, there are going to be numerous examinations about how a no-star team with a rock-bottom payroll can end up in the World Series.

Those examinations are worth conducting, but ultimately, they are going to come up empty. The Rays succeed because they have to. You can apply the same principles and follow the same methods and crunch the same numbers, but you probably can’t come up with the same answer. Because you’re not the Rays.

The Rays do not have superstars. They have a roster full of excellent baseball players, even if a lot of players on that list weren’t that special when they toiled for someone else. It’s like rooting for ants, or a Rotten Tomatoes score, or the All-Star Game voting.

Keep that in mind when the Rays match up in the World Series against the Dodgers or the Braves. You might scan their roster and wonder how that team of drones could end up in the Fall Classic. Don’t. The Rays are the collective wisdom of the baseball masses.

“We believe in our process,” Cash said. “And we will continue doing that.”

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The plays and decisions that got the Los Angeles Dodgers back to the World Series



ARLINGTON, Texas — Down three games to one, on the verge of another cruel postseason exit, Cody Bellinger looked at the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ lineup card, looked around the room at the men with whom he shares every day in these weird times, and started asking himself rhetorical questions.

“Why can’t we win three games in a row?” Bellinger said. “Why not us?”

This was a fair assessment of an unenviable predicament, a natural response. But there was always a better question to ask, one that he could’ve answered before the Dodgers clinched their third World Series berth in four years by completing their comeback against the Atlanta Braves with a 4-3 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series: Why them?

Here’s why.

In every baseball game, there are thousands of decisions. There are minuscule ones — a fielder choosing to take a step to the right or left, a baserunner taking a slightly bigger lead. There are whoppers — a manager figuring out how long to keep a pitcher in, a catcher calling a two-strike pitch. And then there are those in between, the ones where instinct and intelligence meet and change the course of history.

It was the fourth inning. The Braves had taken a 3-2 lead. They had teetered in the early innings of Game 7. The Dodgers were hitting the ball hard and stranding runners. And Atlanta, which the night before had seen the Tampa Bay Rays stave off blowing a 3-0 series lead in the American League Championship Series, was endeavoring to do much the same.

Dansby Swanson stood on third base. Austin Riley stood on second. There were no outs. This was their opportunity to blow the game open. Nick Markakis slapped a 90 mph one-hopper at Justin Turner, the Dodgers’ veteran third baseman. He was playing deep, the consequence of manager Dave Roberts’ decision not to bring the infield in.

Swanson ran on contact. Decision.

Turner threw home. Decision.

Catcher Will Smith chased Swanson back toward third. Decision.

Swanson reversed back toward home as Turner, now with the ball, chased him. Decision.

In the meantime, Riley was having trouble making a decision. The 23-year-old started toward third, stopped halfway and turned back, then, as Turner was diving to barely nick Swanson with a tag — decision, and almost a catastrophic one — Riley committed to third.



Justin Turner dives and throws back to third base, turning a double play as the Dodgers get out of trouble in the fourth inning.

It was too late, a massive blunder. Corey Seager, the NLCS MVP, was covering third, ready to receive the heads-up throw from Turner, who flipped from belly to back to make another spot-on decision.

“We made some mistakes,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times. It really hurt. And in games like these, the runs are so hard to come by, you pretty much gotta play flawless baseball.”

After those early stumbles, as the championship innings approached, with a World Series appearance on the line, that’s pretty much exactly what the Los Angeles Dodgers did.

If there’s a near-universal criticism of the Dodgers, it goes something like this: Yeah, but they’re rich. And, well, looking at the team’s TV deal, its payroll, its staff size, its resources devoted to scouting and player development and analytics — well, it’s true. The Dodgers spend money. Unapologetically.

And if that disqualifies them, or makes them pale compared to the Rays, who don’t spend money anywhere near the same level, then so be it. The Dodgers will live with that. They’ll live with the grievous sin of chasing the best players and landing them.

Because think about it. That’s what they did this winter when they traded for Mookie Betts. Outfielder Alex Verdugo, shortstop prospect Jeter Downs and taking on David Price’s contract was the price, and it included some risk, too, because Betts was due to reach free agency after the 2020 season. But come on. The Dodgers weren’t the only team with players of that caliber and financial wherewithal to make that deal. They were just the only team willing to.

They had seen Betts in the 2018 World Series. They lost that year to his Boston Red Sox. “We would’ve beat the Red Sox if we had Mookie Betts,” Roberts said, and, well, at the very least it would’ve been a better series. What the Dodgers knew — what everyone in baseball knew — is that Betts is the sort of player who even when his bat isn’t launching balls can help a team win a championship.

In Game 5, his shoestring catch started a double play that was made possible by Marcell Ozuna leaving early on a tag-up play. (Decision.) In Game 6, Betts leapt at the right-field wall to grab an Ozuna drive primed to go for extra bases. In Game 7, he extended his streak of one-uppery to three.

Fifth inning, Braves still up 3-2. Freddie Freeman, the NL MVP-to-be and would’ve-been NLCS MVP, launched a Blake Treinen cutter to right. Betts calmly worked toward the fence. He planted his feet, bent his knees, launched himself upward, stretched his arm — turned himself into a silhouette of athleticism — and brought the ball back from over the fence.



Freddie Freeman hits a fly ball to the wall as Mookie Betts jumps to make the incredible out in right field.

“The Dodgers made plays,” Freeman said. “They got out of a second and third, no outs with a great play by Turner. Mookie robbed my home run. Mookie robbed Marcell the other day. They made the plays.”

Betts said it was his favorite of the three fantastic catches. He didn’t celebrate quite like he had in Game 6. Almost as if he’s so good the spectacular has become ordinary.

“We will strike fast,” Betts said, “before you even think about it.”

In the fourth inning, when the Braves brought in reliever Tyler Matzek to take over from rookie starter Ian Anderson, Roberts had a decision: pinch hit Kiké Hernandez or stick with Joc Pederson.

Roberts chose to remain with Pederson, even if Hernandez lives to pummel lefties and Matzek’s advantage over Pederson was distinct. It was too early. There would be another time, another moment, to deploy Hernandez.

Managing is full of these little decisions, and in Game 7, Roberts nailed almost every one of them — not just because they worked and the Dodgers won but because process accompanied outcome, because logic informed choice. The same situation as occurred in the fourth inning arrived in the sixth, and it so happened another lefty was summoned: A.J. Minter, who had thrown a career-high 42 pitches two days earlier.

Hernandez was digging the moment. Even if the Dodgers trailed, 3-2, “I guess the stakes, I kind of like it. It feels cool, it feels good,” he said. “This is what you dream of as a little kid. You don’t just dream of being a big leaguer. You dream about Game 7 of the World Series. This is not the World Series, but it’s Game 7.”

For the past six years, Hernandez has embodied this new incarnation of the Dodgers. He understands his role. He plays all around the diamond and he punishes left-handed pitching. He might have a position he plays more one year than the next, but that depends as much on others as it does him. The superutility role is one of selflessness. It is always about others.

He accepts that because that’s how the Dodgers operate. You’ll get your moment. You’ll work into a 2-2 count, then foul off a ball, then another, and another, and then Minter will do exactly what every left-hander who faces Kiké Hernandez desperately tries to avoid: feed him a fastball from anything other than an over-the-top delivery. From the side, especially as Minter throws, might as well be a stick of dynamite. Kaboom went Hernandez. When the ball landed 424 feet later, the NLCS was tied.

“That’s the most excited I think I’ve ever been in an entire baseball game,” Seager said, “watching him hit that ball.”

The comeback, on life support, had its jolt. The Dodgers, wondering why not, had another why.

“Everybody expected us to go to the World Series. We were expecting to get to the World Series,” Hernandez said. “Up to the fact that we were down 3-1 in this series, we hadn’t really gone through any adversity in the season. That was the one thing. It was time to get it done. First time not just going through adversity, but you had nothing to lose. They are the ones with something to lose. They had a 3-1 lead. They shouldn’t lose this series.”

They shouldn’t have. It’s true. The Braves are a very good team, and very good teams with 3-1 leads should finish series. But this is sports, and this is baseball, and should means nothing.

Cody Bellinger should have had a good year. He was the NL MVP in 2019. At 25, he is square in his prime. He batted .239. His slugging percentage shed nearly 175 points. There are explanations — decisions — but this game is judged on a binary. You do or you don’t. Bellinger, for the most part, didn’t.

The seventh inning rolled around. Chris Martin started it by striking out Max Muncy and Smith. Bellinger stepped in. In Game 6, they had faced one another. Bellinger was all over Martin. He fouled off the first five pitches of the at-bat, took a ball and fouled another off before flying out. The last pitch, after a potpourri of sinkers and sliders, was a splitter — the very sort of offspeed offering that gets Bellinger lunging.

In Game 7, Bellinger’s comfort was apparent. He took two balls and two strikes and only then started swinging. Foul. Foul. Foul. Again. Martin had gone sinkers and cutters this whole time, and he went there once more. The splitter was nowhere to be seen. The ball wasn’t, either. Bellinger crushed it. Like the previous night against Martin, and like an inning earlier with Hernandez, the at-bat lasted eight pitches. On Sunday, something unreal finally happened on the eighth.



Cody Bellinger launches a solo home run to right field, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.

The home run was majestic, a Bellinger special, a gorgeous parabola. The aesthetics were secondary. The Dodgers led 4-3. Bellinger was the second player in postseason history with multiple go-ahead home runs in Game 7s. He’d done it in the NLCS two years ago. The other player: Yogi Berra.

If there was one bad decision made over those final five innings, it came after Bellinger crossed home plate. He leapt in the air for a forearm-bash celebration with Hernandez … and came down with his shoulder out of its socket.

“I’m good,” he told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt following Game 7. “Not the first time it’s happened, but I hit Kiké a little too hard and my shoulder popped out. So I just had to run back to the training room, and they had to pop it back in real quick. But I felt good. I was good enough to play defense to end the game, that’s for sure.”

We’ll know more about Bellinger’s shoulder in the coming days, leading up to the first pitch Tuesday, which will be thrown by Clayton Kershaw. And that’s only because of another decision, one that might have been the most surprising of all.

It is clear, based on how he talks about Kershaw, that Dave Roberts genuinely, deeply admires and respects him. There is a propensity to conflate such emotions with trust — to get a job done, to perform. Maybe it’s unconscious. Perhaps it’s not real. But considering past positions in which Roberts has placed Kershaw, the future Hall of Famer whose playoff performances remain the one bugaboo of his career, one could argue that his decision-making in matters involving the big lefty are subject to a different standard.

Whether Game 7 actually illustrates a shift in his thinking or a temporary moment of clarity might well be seen this week. But Kershaw, even though he spent most of Game 7 in the bullpen, didn’t so much as warm up. Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ longtime closer, typically the sort to whom Roberts giddily hands a 4-3 lead, got loose but never ran through the bullpen door.

The ninth inning, just like the eighth and seventh, belonged to 24-year-old Julio Urias. He is typically a starter, though he has pitched enough in relief over the course of his career — the Dodgers have babied him since he debuted in the major leagues as a 19-year-old — that getting the call in the seventh and plowing through a dangerous lineup without so much as a baserunner … well, it’s not entirely surprising. Other than the fact that only one other reliever in a win-or-go-home game has thrown at least three no-hit innings: Pedro Martinez, in Game 5 of the 1999 AL Division Series, when he went six hitless.

This, though? This was for the World Series. This was the thinnest of margins, the scariest of scenarios. One mistake. One wrong decision.

He didn’t make either. And it mimicked the rest of the night so chock full of excellence that Seager couldn’t choose a favorite moment.

“I don’t know if you can pick,” he said. “[Turner’s] was huge. Being second and third with no outs and getting out of that inning with only giving up one. Mookie taking away a potential homer, another spark. The pinch hit was awesome. That’s the most excited I think I’ve ever been in an entire baseball game, watching him hit that ball. Then Belli showing up when we needed it, hitting the huge homer. Then Urias at the end of the game and shutting it down. You can’t say enough about what this team has done.”

Sure you can. And it’s simple. All you need to do is ask the right question.

Why them?

That’s why.

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Dave Roberts’ trust in Julio Urias pays off in NLCS Game 7



ARLINGTON, Texas — Game 7 of the National League Championship Series began to look bleak in the top of the fourth, when there were two on, none out, and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts already had to deploy Blake Treinen, one of his most trusted high-leverage relievers.

“That wasn’t part of the scenarios,” Roberts said, smiling, after finding a way to manage his team through the 4-3 victory Sunday night that sent the Dodgers to their third World Series in four years.

It helped that Justin Turner produced a miraculous double play — diving to tag Dansby Swanson on his way home, flipping to get Austin Riley as he made his way to third — to get Treinen out of a two-on, none-out jam later in the inning.

It helped that Mookie Betts robbed Freddie Freeman of a home run in the fifth, turning in his third game-changing defensive play in as many days.

It helped that Enrique Hernandez and Cody Bellinger each capped eight-pitch at-bats with home runs in the sixth and seventh, respectively, tying the game and giving the Dodgers their first lead.

And it helped, at least as much, that Julio Urias breezed through the final three innings.

Urias, who threw a career-high 101 pitches in a Game 3 start, entered the seventh inning of a tied game and retired the next nine batters in order, requiring only 39 pitches to do so. With that, the 24-year-old left-hander became only the second reliever to close out a winner-take-all game with at least three no-hit innings. The other: Pedro Martinez in his famous six-inning performance in Game 5 of the 1999 American League Division Series for the Boston Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians.

“It was his moment,” Roberts said of Urias. “I trust him. He was throwing the baseball well, and I wanted him to finish that game.”

Urias was considered a can’t-miss phenom when he broke out with the Dodgers as a 19-year-old starting pitcher in 2016. Then came shoulder surgery, which robbed him of almost the entirety of the next two seasons. He returned in time to become an important bullpen weapon for the Dodgers during their postseason run of 2018, then was used in a hybrid, multi-inning reliever for most of 2019. The 2020 season was his first chance at a solidified spot in the rotation, and Urias answered with a 3.27 ERA in 55 innings.

“Julio is very talented, he’s very smart, and he’s very tough,” Roberts said. “We’ve handled him over the last four years with kid gloves, trying to build him up and put him in different roles — some that he hasn’t really liked and appreciated, which I totally get. But when it comes down to it, he just wants to pitch, wants to compete and wants to help the Dodgers win.”

Roberts didn’t know how much he could get from Urias when he turned to him for the start of the seventh. His three remaining non-closing, high-leverage relievers were Joe Kelly (wildly unpredictable), Victor Gonzalez (used mostly as a lefty specialist) and Pedro Baez (used each of the previous two days).

Clayton Kershaw, three days removed from his Game 5 start, was frequently moving around and trying to stay loose throughout the game. In the eighth, Kenley Jansen took off his sweater and began to do the same. Then came the start of the ninth. Urias jogged back to the mound, and the right-center-field bullpen at Globe Life Field remained still.

It remained that way until the final out settled into Bellinger’s glove.

Urias’ performance helped Roberts save Kershaw to start Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, his hope over the last couple of NLCS games. And it kept him from using Jansen, who struggled with his delivery until only recently and would have been appearing in his third consecutive game.

“Kenley was one of the first people who came and gave me a huge hug and congratulated all of us and talked about winning four more,” Roberts said. “That just speaks to him as a leader and as a teammate.”

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Atlanta Braves bemoan Game 7 baserunning blunder — ‘It was huge’



ARLINGTON, Texas — The Baby Braves still have some growing up to do, although they’re getting closer.

Another baserunning blunder with the lead cost Atlanta dearly, and the Braves‘ bats went cold after that in losing Game 7 of the NL Championship Series 4-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night.

A year after imploding in a deciding Game 5 of their Division Series against St. Louis, the Braves fell short in their first NLCS since 2001 with their sixth straight loss in a winner-take-all game. Atlanta couldn’t hold a 3-1 series lead in an NLCS for the first time after winning each of the previous three with that commanding lead.

Dodgers relievers retired 17 of the final 18 Braves batters, all following a baserunning mishap that will haunt Atlanta this offseason.

The Braves went ahead 3-2 in the fourth inning on Austin Riley‘s single and had runners at second and third with no outs before a wild double play just about wiped out the inning.

Dansby Swanson broke for home on Nick Markakis‘ sharp grounder hit right at third baseman Justin Turner, who was playing well off the line. Turner threw to catcher Will Smith to trap Swanson in a rundown as Riley rounded second.

Smith returned the ball to Turner, who dived to tag Swanson midway down the line. Turner quickly got up and threw the ball to shortstop Corey Seager, waiting at third to tag out Riley, who hesitated between second and third.

Even worse, the bizarre 5-2-5-6 double play ended with Markakis still on first.

“It was huge,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s hard to score runs in the postseason. The infield’s back so you see the ball up the middle. That’s where normally we’re a really good baserunning team. We just did the fundamental things wrong.”

Two days after becoming first starter or reliever to strike out seven in three or fewer innings in the postseason, A.J. Minter gave up the lead to his first batter, Enrique Hernandez, leading off the sixth. Chris Martin surrendered Cody Bellinger‘s go-ahead solo shot with two outs an inning later.

“We made some mistakes,” Snitker said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times that really hurt. Games like these, runs are so hard to come by, you pretty much got to play flawless baseball.”

Minter’s 42-pitch outing for three scoreless innings at the start of Atlanta’s 7-3 loss in Game 5 was the left-hander’s longest since May 6, 2015, for Texas A&M, when he tore an elbow ligament.

Starter Ian Anderson couldn’t keep his team in front for the first time in the 22-year-old’s brief postseason career. He extended a scoreless streak to start his postseason career to 17 2/3 innings — the second-longest by a rookie in the past 100 years — before Smith’s tying two-run single in the third.

The right-hander, who won his first two postseason starts, ended up with the third-longest scoreless inning streak to begin a postseason career, behind Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson (1905-11) and Joe Niekro (1980-81).

Anderson was the youngest starter in a winner-take all game since 21-year-old Jaret Wright for Cleveland in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, won 3-2 by Florida.

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