Will Smith homers off Will Smith in Game 5 of NLCS

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Will this MLB postseason and World Series champ come with an asterisk?

Sports Pulse: The MLB postseason has two losing teams in it. There was only a 60-game regular season. Does the 2020 World Series champion require an asterisk? Our MLB experts debate.

ARLINGTON, Texas – The first showdown between players with the same name in postseason history turned out to be remarkably momentous.

Enough, perhaps, to turn the tide in this National League Championship Series, even.

In a battle of Will Smiths that was five games in the making, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ version put together a remarkable at-bat against his Atlanta Braves counterpart, falling into a two-strike hole before clouting a full-count fastball into the left-field seats at Globe Life Field, a critical three-run home run for a club fighting elimination.

It turned a one-run Dodgers deficit into a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth in Game 5, with the Braves holding a 3-1 NLCS lead.

The Dodgers would go on to a 7-3 victory, forcing Game 6 Saturday afternoon.

"That was a great AB," Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, who slugged two home runs, said of Smith's game-turning home run. "He battled his ass off the whole time, got a ball down and away and put a great swing on it." 

Smith, the Dodgers’ second-year catcher, and Smith, in his first year in the Braves bullpen, had met before. The left-hander was the San Francisco Giants closer last season, and he encountered the Dodgers’ then-rookie catcher with two outs in the bottom of the ninth of a 5-4 game on Sept. 7, 2019.

Smith the pitcher prevailed then, striking out his younger counterpart to end the game.

Seemed like a pretty big spot for a trivia question. Then came Friday night.

"I’ll always bet on our Will Smith," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts quipped.

With both teams committed to bullpen games, Smith figured to come in early, and he was summoned with two outs in the sixth, explicitly to retire lefty slugger Max Muncy.

But Smith threw three consecutive balls to Muncy, battled to a full count before walking Muncy, whose bat never left his shoulder.

In simpler times, that might have been it for Smith the pitcher. But the new three-batter minimum mandated the Smith-Smith matchup occur, and history was made.

Not that Friday's hero was taking the bait on the oddity of it all.

"Who knows? It’s a common enough name," he said. 

Can’t imagine what Act III will bring.

Will Smith comes out on top against...Will Smith for a 3-run home run, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead.

The matchup was the first pitcher-batter matching name battle in MLB postseason history according to @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/PzIXk3KQnz

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 17, 2020

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