Posted October 07, 2013

Dodgers push Braves to the brink on ugly night for rookie pitchers

Atlanta Braves, Division Series, Los Angeles Dodgers
Hanley Ramirez was one of the many Dodgers hitters to take advantage of the Braves' rookie pitchers. (Chris Williams/Icon SMI)

Hanley Ramirez was one of the many Dodgers to capitalize on the inexperience of the Braves’ rookie pitchers. (Chris Williams/Icon SMI)

Game 3 of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Braves presented a compelling pitching matchup between two of the league’s top rookie pitchers, both of whom were the first of their countrymen to make a postseason start in the major leagues. However, Sunday night wound up being a night both the Dodgers’ South Korean lefty Hyun-jin Ryu and the Braves’ Colombian righty Julio Teheran would rather forget.

Neither rookie made it into the fourth inning, both being removed from the game at the same moment in the bottom of the third. By then the score was already 6-4, Dodgers. L.A. had two on and two out and Ryu was due up to face Teheran for the second time. But as Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went to his bench to pinch-hit for Ryu, who had thrown 68 pitches through three innings and made a pair of mistakes in the field in the top of the third that allowed the Braves to tie the game at 4-4, Braves skipper Fredi Gonzalez pulled Teheran, who had already allowed six runs on eight hits and thrown 66 pitches.

Gonzalez replaced Teheran with fellow rookie Alex Wood, who struck out pinch-hitter Michael Young. However, after veteran lefty Chris Capuano pitched a scoreless top of the fourth for the Dodgers, Wood gave up four runs in the bottom of the inning (all unearned because of Wood’s own fielding error on Carl Crawford’s leadoff bunt). By the end of the fourth inning, four Dodgers already had multi-hit games and only three starters on the two teams combined (not counting the pitchers) had failed to reach base safely.

It wasn’t until the fifth that the Braves’ pitchers recorded a 1-2-3 inning (by Wood) or that an entire inning passed without either team scoring. After a three-inning lull, the offenses went back to work, with the Dodgers scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth, and the Braves answering back with a two-run Jason Heyward home run off rookie lefty Paco Rodriguez in the top of the ninth to set the final score at 13-6. Those 13 runs were the most scored in a Division Series game since 2005, when the White Sox beat the Red Sox 14-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS. The 13 Dodger runs also tied the most ever scored by the Dodgers or allowed by the Braves in the postseason. Of the combined 19 runs scored in the game, 16 were charged to rookie pitchers with the exception of Braves’ David Hale, who retired the only man he faced, being the only rookie to escape the game unscathed.

Carl Crawford (2-for-5, 3 RBI, 3 R) and Juan Uribe (2-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 R) both homered for the Dodgers, and Yasiel Puig (2 RBI, 3 R) singled three times in five at-bats, but the hitting star in this game was, once again, Hanley Ramirez, who went 3-for-4 with a double and a triple, driving in two runs and scoring three others. With that, Ramirez tied the Division Series record for extra-base hits with six (set by Jim Edmonds in 2000 and tied by Carlos Beltran in 2004) and is now hitting .538/.571/1.231 (7-for-13, 6 XBH, 1 BB) on the series.

The Braves now find themselves facing elimination in Monday’s Game 4 with Freddy Garcia their scheduled starter and Clayton Kershaw lurking for the Dodgers if the Braves can force the series back to Atlanta for a Game 5. The Dodgers, meanwhile, appear destined to return to the National League Championship Series, where their World Series hopes stalled out in 2008 and 2009, the last two seasons that L.A. made the playoffs.

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