Arlington, Texas – Ian Anderson doesn’t remember the last time the Atlanta Brave was in Game 7.
This is because the 22-year-old rookie has yet to be born.
Anderson would take a 0-0 streak of 15 2/3 early in his post-season career in the crucial game of the NL Series Championship against the Los Angeles Dodgers after the Braves lost for a second consecutive time, 3–1 on Saturday.
It’s one game for a chance to meet Tampa Bay or Houston for the World Series, and it’s the second NLCS to cross the distance in 15 seasons and the first time since 2004 that the two League Series have each played seven matches.
If Tony Gunsulin goes to the Dodgers on Sunday night, it will be the first game in which the winner wins all post-season started by two youngsters. It would also be a rematch for Game 2, which Atlanta won 8-7 when the Braves stopped in the ninth game long after the departure of Anderson and Gunsolin.
“I think you should go out and compete,” Anderson said. “Whether you hit them first or you punch you first, you have to find a way to stay in the fight and compete as hard as you can.”
In the first neutral location in the major league baseball, the League Series are played on consecutive days without vacation, closer to arduous periods of dog summer days than high-stakes October scenes.
That means aces will be a spectator in Game 7 after Walker Buhler submitted six knockout rounds to beat Max Fried in Game 6 at the home of the Texas Rangers, which is also the site of the World Championship that begins Tuesday.
The Braves are trying to return to the World Championship for the first time since 1999, while the Dodgers are in the seventh leading LCS Championship since 2008 but are still searching for their first championship in 32 years.
“I think it’s the same situation as Game 2, Game 3, Game 4, Game 1,” said Gonsolin, 26, right-handed, hours before the Dodgers won. “It’s the same for me. I just have to go there and throw my game.”
It’s the first postseason of both, with Anderson likely feeling the heaviest weight in history.
Atlanta’s last 7 game was a 15-0 win over St. Louis in the NLCS in 1996, before losing the World Series to the New York Yankees in six games. He was born about 19 months later.
The Braves are now trying to avoid losing the NL Banner for the first time after winning the first two matches of a seven-game Championship Series, in their NLCS debut since 2001.
The franchise only made a 3-1 lead in the series once, in 1958, when the Milwaukee Braves lost the World Series to the New York Yankees.
“I think he’s going to handle it nicely,” said Braves director Brian Snitker. “The experience I’ve had with this baby over the past two months, it wouldn’t have led me to believe any other way.”
Anderson was unhappy so far in these qualifiers.
The right-wing youngster from upstate New York hit nine out of six innings goalless to defeat Cincinnati in the wild cards decider, then added 5 2/3 more innings without running as he spurred eight to once again beat Miami in the Division Series.
Anderson knocked out after four rounds without goals against the Dodgers due to his career high of five walks, while Gonsolin dropped five runs in 4 1/3 innings.
“He’s prepared and smart as much as he comes,” said Fred, who joined Anderson and Kyle Wright to help the Braves become the second team to start post-season with four games in five matches. “You’d never know it was his rookie year, the way he handled himself, his poise and everything.”
The Dodgers are in Game 7 for the third time in four seasons. Los Angeles defeated Milwaukee 5-1 in the deciding match for the NLCS 2018 championship after losing 5-1 to Astros in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.
Baseball writer Ronald Blume contributed to this report.
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