Postseason Baseball returned to Dodger Stadium Sunday night with a bang. Litterally. There was some minor apprehension coming into game three of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers and the Braves. The two clubs had split the first two games in Atlanta, and as the series shifted to Dodger Stadium, a pair of rookies were set to battle on the mound. Right hander Julio Teheran for the Braves, and left hander Hyun-jin Ryu for the Dodgers.
The Dodger offense exploded for 13 runs on 14 hits in a decisive 13-6 victory that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 series lead in games. Someone once said they were happy that the Dodgers were playing the Braves in the first round. I of course missed the boat on that one. I looked at the numbers and thought it wouldn’t be a good idea. The numbers were right in a way. The Braves did win 96 games in the regular season compared to the Dodgers 92. The Braves had the toughest pitching staff in the NL, leading the league in ERA. Despite their history of coming up empty in the playoffs, I was still worried. But I don’t think the Braves match-up well with the Dodgers. The Braves have a dominant bullpen, but their starting pitching is dominated by rookies, and inexperience, and their lineup is a feast or famine type of order. They are still a very good team, but so far the Dodgers one-upped them.
Sunday night’s 13-6 win was nothing short of incredible. The atmosphere was electric. This was the first Playoff game at Dodger Stadium since 2009. Not that there wasn’t some controversy surrounding Don Mattingly’s questionable move in game 2. (the bizarre intentional walk to Reed Johnson to pitch to Jason Heyward). There was also some questions raised about Ryu’s health. Ryu didn’t look great on Sunday allowing four runs on six hits through three frames, but he wasn’t like Ramon Ortiz terrible or anything. Teheran was worse, serving up six runs on eight hits to the Dodgers, and not getting out of the third inning.
The Dodgers scored ten runs before the fifth inning on an onslaught of hits. The game had everything though. Ryu had his usual problems in the first inning, and allowed two runs in the top of the first. The Dodgers had a botched double play in the second inning that seemed to fluster Ryu a bit. Ryu had himself to blame as he was unable to touch the bag while covering a throw. Ryu made another fielding gaffe on a little dribbler from Chris Johnson. Ryu panicked and tried to cut down the runner at home, unsuccessfully.
The Dodgers did get a key double play in the top of the third inning, which was Ryu’s last. Chris Capuano took over and pitched three scoreless frames. J.P. Howell, and Ronald Belisario also contributed to get the Dodgers into the ninth inning.
The momentum changed once Carl Crawford hit that three-run shot into the Atlanta bullpen. Crawford had the game of his life, and made this catch in the eighth inning, while falling over the low wall.
Yasiel Puig, and Hanley Ramirez were on fire. Hanley had a double, and a triple, and three more hits. He has tied the Dodger record for most extra-base hits in a playoff series with six. And this is a short series. The Atlanta outfield misplayed several hits that hopped against the wall which only helped the Dodgers.
In the ninth inning, Mattingy brought in Paco Rodriguez and let him pitch to Heyward again. This time Heyward took him deep to center for a two-run home run, which brought us to the final score of 13-6. I think Paco is just going through a little slump right now due to overwork. I think Mattingly should criss-cross Howell, and Paco. Let Howell pitch the eighth innings, and use Paco as the loogy. Howell has also been excellent this season.
Paco got two outs, but Mattingly had to pull him and bring in Kenley Jansen to record the final out, with runners on base. Which he did via the strikeout. Get this though, the Dodgers were 7 for 15 with runners in scoring position on Sunday night. Incredible.
The Dodgers now have a 2-1 series lead, and are just one game away from advancing to the NLCS. It appears that there may be a Dodgers/Pirates NLCS, as the Bucs took a 2-1 series lead in their NLDS against the Cardinals. That series is crazy. The games in Pittsburgh look like insanity. McCutchen is flying all over the ball park, and all the Pirates fans were going bonkers. Zoltans are being thrown everywhere. Lost in all of that insanity is Beltran is hitting like the second coming of Babe Ruth. You know that means Mattingly would just pitch to him.
The atmosphere at Dodger Stadium was electric. Gonzo was throwing up bombs every five minutes and catching foul balls with one hand in the on-deck circle. Hanley is on fire, and Crawford’s home run was the big momentum push. Now the question remains, should the Dodgers use Kershaw in game four, or save him for game five and pitch the scheduled starter Ricky Nolasco?
The announced attendance last night was 54,646. The Dodgers can clinch on Monday night in game 4. Let’s hope they do so we never ever have to listen to that stupid Tomahawk chant ever again this year.
Questions still abound for game 4. Will the Dodgers stick with Nolasco? Or go with Kershaw? Should the Dodgers stick with Nolasco? Will the Braves stick with Freddy Garcia? Will Don Mattingly ever stop using Paco to pitch to Heyward? Can the Dodgers clinch it at home? Those questions will all be answered Monday night. Go Blue!
The Mock Chant
Sunday night’s game 3 saw an electrifying crowd super pumped up that Dodger Baseball has returned to October. The Dodger fans were mocking the tomahawk chant and were doing fake hand chops while using their Dodger Blue rally towels. It was quite humorous, and I loved every minute of it. Seriously drink this all in guys, it’s something special.
The playoff Dog
The Dodgers welcomed two new Dodger Dogs Sunday night for the playoffs. Here’s a pic of the playoff dog, which I worked on for most of the game. I did finish most of it. But it took some work. It was well worth it. Here’s what it looks like before it ends up in your stomach.
We at Lasorda’s Lair are declaring this month, Bluetober. Dodger playoff Baseball is back! It’s everything we hoped it would be and more. Keep dreaming big guys, because out here we all dream in Blue.