Coming into Game 3 of the NLDS, young king Walker Buehler stood atop the wall. To everyone’s surprise, the young king had a great fall. All of Dave Roberts‘ bullpen horses and all of his men with bats could not put Game 3 together again. Which brought us to Game 4, and today’s hopeful southpaw savior, Rich Hill.
This time Roberts’ men came out swinging and scoring in the first inning. Max Muncy was driven in for the first run of the game on a Manny Machado double. Yesterday I griped Machado had no business batting fourth, but I saw the rationale to have him there today, as he’s batted .665 against the Atlanta starter, Foltynewicz.
Rich Hill did well enough for the first couple of innings, but the home plate umpire began squeezing Hill’s strike zone. Legitimate strikes were called balls. Letter high strikes weren’t strikes, and then Hill’s lower RH corner stopped being a strike. Braves batters were given “no swings” on half-swings. Hill was having his head twisted and his home plate taken away from him.
Hill escaped a threat in the third, but the floating strike zone took its toll, and he walked two in the fourth. They advanced to 2nd and 3rd on a sacrifice bunt. PH Suzuki got hold of a high and straight one, and he singled in two. The Braves went ahead 2-1.
Hill got squeezed again, not on every pitch – but enough – in the fifth. He was also betrayed by a double play ball that Machado muffed for an error to load the bases. That was the end of Hill. Ryan Madson replaced him, and got out of the jam safely.
Then it was the Dodgers’ turn. In the top of the sixth, with two out and runners on 2nd and 3rd, right after Joe Davis reminded us the man at the plate had the highest postseason BA of any active player, David Freese poked a single just out of the reach of Charlie Culberson and into CF, plating both runners and giving the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. Important note: Yasiel Puig stole second base (uncontested) right before Freese’s hit, which set up that go-ahead run.
Pedro Baez took care of things 1,2,3 in the bottom of the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, with two on and two out, Machado paid off the faith his manager had in him when he crushed a two-strike pitch all the way out for a monster three run HR that gave the Dodgers a 6-2 lead. Just to give a little something for his haters to hate, Machado admired his home run long enough to slowly blow a gum bubble, and then he began his trot.
Maeda kept the Braves quiet in the eighth, despite some high drama with a 2 out, 2 on, deep fly ball that eventually went foul.
Then the Dodgers placed the game atop Kenley Jansen’s shoulders.
Acuña – Grounder. 1 out
Albes: K. 2 out
Freeman: Full count. High fastball – swing and a miss!
The tomahawk chant fell silent, and the Braves hung on the dugout rail, watching the Dave Roberts’ men celebrate their advancement to the NLCS.
8 more wins to go! Bring on the Brewers!