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October 7, 2013

Playoff Prospectus

NLDS Game Three Recap: Dodgers 13, Braves 6

by Daniel Rathman

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In the bottom of the eighth inning of Game Three, Hanley Ramirez roped an RBI single to left. It was his seventh hit of the series. And it was the first that didn’t go for at least two bases.

Ramirez packed five wins worth of production into 336 plate appearances over 86 regular-season games, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down with the postseason underway. The shortstop collected three doubles and a home run during the first two contests at Turner Field. He added another two-bagger and a triple, plus an 11-pitch walk, before the aforementioned garbage-time single.

Playing in his third playoff game after 1,095 regular-season contests with the Marlins and Dodgers sans any post-season action, Ramirez has already etched his name into the franchise history books—equaling the single-series extra-base hit record previously held by Steve Garvey—and there’s at least one more game to go.

Ramirez was one of many Dodgers who had a grand ol’ time at the plate on Sunday night. Seven of the nine players in Don Mattingly’s starting lineup had at least one hit, and an eighth, pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, delivered a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second. The Dodgers had 14 knocks in total and posted crooked numbers in the second, third, fourth, and eighth frames. The Braves kept up for a while, but as the night wore on, the home team pulled away.

What was billed as an intriguing pitching matchup between rookies Ryu and Julio Teheran turned into a slugfest in short order. Ryu was charged with four runs on six hits in three innings; Teheran couldn't even get that far. The righty was chased with six runs and eight hits on his 2 2/3 inning line, and long reliever Alex Wood poured fuel on the fire.

Carl Crawford delivered a three-run blast off of Teheran, whose slider was a weapon of self-destruction. It produced five swings and misses in 18 uses, but when the Dodgers made contact with the harder of Teheran’s two breaking balls, they squared them up, in part because too many stayed elevated over the middle of the plate.

Crawford’s dinger gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead an inning after the Braves raced out to a 2-0 edge behind a double from Justin Upton and run-scoring singles from Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson. Atlanta tied the game in the top of the third with help from Ryu, who turned in a showcase of how not to field his position. The southpaw turned a double-play ball into an RBI ground out by failing to touch the bag, then threw home on a fielder’s choice on which there was no chance to retire the runner at the plate.

But once again, the Dodgers’ bats had their starter’s back. Juan Uribe whacked a two-run shot to the opposite field as part of Los Angeles’ second four-spot in the first four innings. Jason Heyward’s two-run bomb in the bottom of the ninth was all the visitors would get the rest of the way.

The starters’ short outings and some bullpen wildness in the late innings forced Fredi Gonzalez and Don Mattingly to reach deep into their relief staffs. Each used five bullpen arms, and even closer Kenley Jansen was called upon to bring the four-hour contest to a 13-6 end.

Now down 2-1 in the best-of-five series, the Braves will pin their season on the right shoulder of Freddy Garcia, who is set to duel Ricky Nolasco in Game Four. See Mike Gianella’s preview for more on that matchup.

I’ll leave you with the defensive play of the game—a tremendous effort by Crawford, who sacrificed his body to record a foul out off the bat of Brian McCann:

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

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