Dodgers Felt Mookie Betts Catch Shifted Momentum In NLCS Game 5

The Los Angeles Dodgers rode the bats of Corey Seager and Will Smith as they combined for three home runs to help keep the team alive in the National League Championship Series with a comeback win against the Atlanta Braves in Game 5.

While Seager’s continued power display and Smith’s show of emotion — while ironically enough hitting the homer off the Braves’ Will Smith — were certainly crucial, so too was a shoestring catch Mookie Betts made in the third inning.

After Dustin May was pulled after just two innings, Joe Kelly was greeted with back-to-back singles to start the third. A soft ground ball to the right side then advanced both runners, putting the Braves in position to at least double a 2-0 lead with one swing of the bat.

Dansby Swanson hit a blooper into shallow right field that Betts charged and made a tremendous catch on, then attempted to throw out Marcell Ozuna at home plate. Betts struggled with the transfer and double clutched before getting his throw off, which allowed Ozuna to easily score.

“It’s definitely a tough play. A lot of it is instinctual. I just knew I had to stay on my feet in order to get a throw off and have a chance at home,” Betts explained. “That was my whole plan, was just do whatever I can to stay on my feet.”

The Dodgers threw the ball to third base to appeal the play and that was key as they then challenged. Replay showed Ozuna left the bag early, thus giving the Dodgers an inning-ending double play.

“We were able to get a stop. [Thursday], we couldn’t stop the bleeding. Today we were able to get a stop right there and put some pressure back on them,” Betts said.

The Dodgers to that point had lacked energy you would expect to see from a team looking to avoid elimination. Betts’ play gave them a jolt and Seager’s leadoff home run in the fourth inning multiplied it.

“It’s not always on the offensive side that you get the spark. A big play like that in a big moment changes everything for you,” Seager said. “You go into the dugout with some energy, you scratch some runs and the whole thing changes.”

Play of the season?

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts agreed with Seager’s stance and put Betts’ catch at the top of the list for 2020. “We’ve had a lot of great plays this year, but if you’re talking about momentum shifts, that’s the play of the year for me,” Roberts said.

“The probability of catching that baseball, where Joe was at, the game score, potentially having to go to Treinen, to make the play and get the call on replay, for me that was the play of the game. It was a huge play. … I just thought there was no way he was going to make that play.

“He’s kind of the straw that stirs us. The infield hit that he got got us going, the two-out base hit to add on an extra run was huge. You can just see when Mookie gets on base, our team just kind of follows.”

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