Braves grown up a bit for NLCS matchup against the Dodgers

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Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. flies out in the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins in Game 3 of a baseball National League Division Series, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

ARLINGTON, Texas – Those Baby Braves that faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs two years ago have grown up a little bit, and have even won a couple of postseason series.

The Dodgers have been here before, in the NL Championship Series for the fourth time in five years and settling in at the new AL ballpark where last week they won their NL Division series and would like to stay for the World Series.

Atlanta is in its first NLCS since 2001 and, like Los Angeles, has won all five games so far this postseason.

“We’re really, really strong. 2018, I think we were just excited to make it, we completely flipped the script of our record from 72-90 to 90-72 in a year, so were just thrilled,” said Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, maybe the favorite for this season's NL MVP. “This is a completely different story. ... We like our chances. We’ve been playing really well.”

Game 1 of the best-of-seven NLCS is Monday night. It is a matchup of the highest-scoring teams in the majors during the regular season, with fans in the stands for the first time in this pandemic-affected season.

After 118 homers in 60 regular-season games, the Dodgers have only two in the playoffs. They've hit one in the spacious new Texas Rangers’ ballpark where they swept the San Diego Padres in the NL Division Series there last week, but scored 23 in those three games.

“We’re not a one-track offense. We can score runs in a ton of different ways,” Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner said. “And if the ball happens to go over the fence, we’ll take that too.”

Los Angeles won the 2018 NLDS over Atlanta in four games on way to its second consecutive World Series, though the Dodgers are still more than three decades removed from their last title in 1988. That was part of 10 consecutive postseason series losses before the Braves swept Cincinnati and Miami this year.