The Dodgers were hoping to ride the red-hot arm of rookie sensation Walker Buehler to a sweep in game three of the NLDS on Sunday night in Atlanta to wrap up their five game playoff series over the Braves. Unfortunately a disastrous five-run second inning highlighted by a grand slam home run by Ronald Acuna Jr. a poor relief appearance from Alex Wood, and the usual missed opportunities from the Dodger hitters doomed the Dodgers to defeat as the Braves forced game four.
For the record the Dodgers did fight back to score two runs in the third and three in the fifth (On a pair of home runs from Taylor and Muncy) to tie the game at 5-5. But Freddie Freeman’s sixth inning home run off of Alex Wood put the Braves back on top and the Dodgers stranded a small army of runners on base in the final four innings to fall 6-5.
Sometimes we forget that Buehler is still really young and inexperienced. After breezing through the first inning without issue, he ran into trouble with his command in the bottom of the second. With 50,000 Braves fans screaming and chanting Buehler walked Nick Markakis. After two quick strike outs on Camargo and Suzuki, Ozzie Albies dunked one into center field and after Cody Bellinger muffed the ball the Braves had runners at second and third. The Dodgers issued an intentional walk to former teammate Charlie Culberson, which loaded the bases. That brought up opposing starter Sean Newcomb. It’s important to note that Newcomb is one of the worst hitters in the majors with a career .042 batting average. Buehler still rattled walked Newcomb to force in a run. Then he went 3-0 on Acuna who smashed a grand slam home run to right center field to put the Braves ahead 5-0 and bring Sun Trust Park to life.
NLDS Game 3- Dodgers Lead series 2-1
Dodgers 5 7 1
Braves 6 4 1
It looked like the Dodgers were buried, but they rallied. Newcomb wasn’t particularly sharp either. In the top of the third, Enrique Hernandez and Chris Taylor walked and Justin Turner grounded one through the hole at short to score two. Acuna misplayed the ball, taking his eyes off of it and letting it get by him allowing the second run to score and make the score 5-2 Atlanta.
Buehler settled down after that, not allowing anything for the next three innings. Buehler finished the night with five runs on only two hits (one being the grand slam), three walks and seven strikeouts over five innings. The Dodger bats got him off the hook. In the top of the fifth, Grandal walked and Chris Taylor hooked a two-run home run into the left field seats to bring the Dodgers to within one run. At that point Newcombe was already out of the game, hooked in the third inning. Kevin Gausman gave way to Max Fried. Later in the inning Max Muncy’s towering blast over the center field wall tied the game at 5-5. Touch em all you little muncter!
The Dodgers had a chance to take the lead in the top of the sixth when Matt Kemp (getting the start in right) doubled to lead-off the inning and the Dodgers loaded the bases. But Kemp was thrown out at the plate on a Hernandez grounder to short with the Atlanta infield playing up. Later in the frame with the bases juiced Taylor would ground out and the Dodgers wouldn’t score. Despite the problems hitting with runners on base the Dodgers drew nine walks. The Dodgers brought in Alex Wood in the bottom of the sixth and Freddie Freeman hit a first pitch meatball out of the park to give the Braves a 6-5 lead. Ryan Madson was called in to restore order, which he did. Pedro Baez struck out two in the bottom of the seventh.
The Dodgers once again got another runner into scoring position in the top of the eighth and couldn’t score. Brian Dozier singled and two outs later advanced to second on a wild pitch from A.J. Minter. Yasmani Grandal walked but Yasiel Puig grounded out. In the top of the ninth the Braves called on their closer Arodys Vizcaino to close it out. Joc Pederson led off the inning with a line drive single to right off the wall. He hit the ball so hard that he was unable to take second. Justin Turner walked and the Dodgers had first and second with nobody out. Max Muncy battled, working the count to 3-2, before striking out. Then Unclutch Manny Machado struck out on a wild pitch (Machado just stood there instead of running to first) and the wild pitch advanced the runners to second and third. The Dodger’s last hope, Dozier predictably struck out. The Dodgers lose.
The Dodgers will try again to close out the series on Monday afternoon in game 4. It would be a great idea if the Dodgers did not let the Braves back in this series. The Braves will reportedly start Mike Foltynewicz. The Dodgers have not announced their starter, but I’m assuming it will be Rich Hill. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 PM PST.