Tagged in: winning streak

Down 2-0, Dodgers have Braves where they want them at home

Trailing 2-0 in the NL Championship Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the Atlanta Braves right where they want them. At their house.

The Braves’ last victory at Dodger Stadium was June 9, 2018. They’ve lost nine consecutive in Los Angeles, getting swept in a three-game series in late August and were shut out twice in the 2018 NL Division Series.

Going back to the 2013 NLDS, the Braves have dropped 19 of their last 22 in LA.

The Dodgers were an MLB-best 58-23 at home, ending the regular season on franchise-record 15-game winning streak at Chavez Ravine. But as a wild-card team, they don’t have home-field advantage in the NL playoffs despite 106 victories.

“We’re back home,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Monday. “We expect to win Game 3.”

The series resumes Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles is a 3-2 favorite,

“They’re just really good here, really good,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s fun to come out here. Dodger Stadium is an electric place and the weather’s nice.”

Charlie Morton (0-1, 3.86 ERA in the postseason) starts for the Braves. Walker Buehler (0-1, 3.38), a 16-game winner in the regular season, takes the mound for the Dodgers.

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“If the baseball sayings are right, you’re only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher,” All-Star pitcher Max Scherzer said, “and so we got Walk going on the mound and we definitely believe we can win with him. Our mindset is just win the next game.”

Buehler will start on two extra days’ rest after opening Game 4 of the NLDS on short rest a week ago.

“I got a little sick in San Francisco, but I’m feeling all right, so no worse for the wear,” he said Monday, declining to specify what or how he felt ill.

The Cy Young Award contender has proven to be reliable in big matches, with a 2.50 ERA in 13 postseason starts.

“With Walker being on extra rest, I think to have him, to push him, go deeper is certainly a very good option,” Roberts stated.

The Dodgers expect to have Justin Turner back at third base. He was reduced to pinch-hitting in Game 2 due to a neck injury, ending his streak of 77 consecutive postseason starts. He’s struggled at the plate in the postseason, hitting .050 versus San Francisco in the NLDS.

The Dodgers have been down before against Atlanta. Playing last postseason at a neutral site in Texas, they overcame a 1/3 deficit to defeat the Braves in the NLCS. LA went on to win its first World Series championship since 1988.

After last year, the 88-win Braves aren’t taking anything for granted.

“It’s like one of those things where you can’t stop now, you got to continue to apply the pressure,” said third baseman Austin Riley, whose RBI single won Game 1.

Snitker added, “With a year’s experience and in the same position these guys are better versed for it right now.”

Game 4 is Wednesday and a possible Game 5 the following day, cutting out any rest for the bullpen and seemingly making it harder for the Dodgers to use their starters in relief, as they did in the first two matches.

The Braves made history as just the second team ever to win the first two games of a League Championship Series on walk-offs, joining the 1969 Baltimore Orioles. Historically, teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven postseason major league series go on to win the series 84% of the time.

Along with his teammates, Atlanta slugger Freddie Freeman will be looking to reset in LA. He’s 0 for 8 in the series, striking out seven times. “He can get hot at any moment,” Roberts said.

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Team USA falls to France at Tokyo Games for first Olympic men’s basketball loss since 2004

Team USA’s invincibility in men’s basketball is long gone, and the journey to a fourth successive gold medal is already fraught with adversity.

France gut-punched the Americans with a brilliant finish for an 83-76 triumph to open the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday. It snapped a 25-game Olympic winning streak dating back to 2004 for Team USA.

The final blow came when Evan Fournier drilled a 3-pointer with a minute to play to give the French the lead for good, completing their comeback after the U.S. had an eight-point lead with four minutes to play. It was the biggest of his 28 points in one of the finest games he has played in his career.

It was followed by an amazing possession in which the Americans managed to get five shots off and missed them all. The final three were wide-open 3-point attempts by Zach LaVine, Kevin Durant and Jrue Holiday.

“I got to lead the team because I know these guys,” Fournier said. “It’s a hell of a win. Our country is going to be extremely proud. But it’s just one game, to be honest.”

If there was a moment in this match that best encapsulated the situation between these two teams, it came at the end, when the French calmly shook the Americans’ hands and left the floor with the same business-as-usual demeanor Fournier displayed. Two years ago at the World Cup in China, France celebrated wildly after defeating a much-less-talented Team USA.

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“There’s nothing to be surprised about,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said before launching into what has become his go-to statement after losses.

“When you lose a game, you’re not surprised. You’re disappointed, but I don’t understand the word surprised. That sort of disses the French team, so to speak, as if we’re supposed to beat them by 30 or something. That’s a hell of a team.”

The French won the bronze at that World Cup, but their talent does not compare to that of the Americans.

And it does not explain how a U.S. team built for scoring and shooting went an unexplainable four and a half minutes without a basket down the stretch.

Fatigue was a factor. Three players didn’t get to the team hotel until 1 a.m. on gameday, an unusual set of circumstances. But one of them, Jrue Holiday, was masterful in the fourth quarter as he scored 12 of his 18 points and contributed several other energy plays to help the U.S. build a lead.

The Americans then had a host of stars to lean on such as Durant, Jayson Tatum and Damian Lillard. But they failed as the French ran an execution clinic.

Popovich seemed annoyed by media questions about the upset, as has been his custom. He has overseen losses in five of the past eight games he has coached for the national team dating back to 2019. There were some who admitted the loss was a disappointment, however.

“I think we have a history of dominance and maybe not always blowing people out, but we have a history of winning. And it’s not often that you see Team USA go out there and lose, especially to start,” stated Lillard, who shot just 3-of-10 and had two critical turnovers late in the game.

Popovich said he’d been thinking about this rematch for two years and daily since the game was drawn in February. But he never figured out how to slow down Fournier as he repeatedly got free for open looks on the perimeter. Even Holiday, who was brilliant in the NBA Finals, helping the Bucks clinch the title Tuesday, couldn’t stem the tide.

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