Former closer A.J. Minter dazzled in his first career start — in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, no less — as the Braves went with a bullpen game on Friday night at Globe Life Field.
Minter worked three scoreless innings, striking out seven and
Minter worked three scoreless innings, striking out seven and allowing just one hit, a two-out double by Justin Turner in the first. The seven strikeouts were the most by a pitcher in a postseason outing of three innings or fewer.
The left-hander tossed 42 pitches and outlasted Dodgers starter Dustin May, who allowed two runs in two innings.
The Braves have a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven series. With a chance to go to the World Series for the first time since 1999, they leaned on the depth of their bullpen. Each of their key relievers was available to follow Minter.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) October 17, 2020
By starting a lefty, the Braves appeared to create an optimal matchup against the top of the Dodgers’ lineup: Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Turner.
Betts hit .200 with a .531 OPS against left-handers during the regular season, and he entered Friday 2-for-12 with a pair of doubles against them in the postseason.
Seager hit .275 with a .827 OPS in 75 plate appearances against lefties before the playoffs began. The left-handed-hitting shortstop was 5-for-14 with two homers against them in the playoffs.
Turner hit just .234 with a .745 OPS in 58 regular-season plate appearances against lefties. He was 5-for-14 against them in the postseason.
One of those postseason home runs Seager hit was tallied in Game 2 against Minter, who had allowed lefties to hit .269 (7-for-26) with a .462 slugging percentage this year.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.