Monday, October 7, 2013

Too much offense in Dodgers' Game 3 rout

The happiest man in Los Angeles right now?  Hyun-Jin Ryu.  Thanks to an offensive outburst of 13 runs, Ryu's poor start was completely lost in the shuffle.

And when your team has Hanley Ramirez, it's easy to forget about the negatives.

The Dodgers had an incredible 10 two-out RBIs en route to an emphatic 13-6 win over the Braves.  The win put the Dodgers on the verge of the NLCS with a 2-1 advantage heading into Game 4 Monday night.

As I stated before, the game didn't start off so hot, as Ryu gave up a couple in the first.  Justin Upton smoked a double to center with an out, just past the outstretched dive of Skip Schumaker.  He scored an out later on an Evan Gattis RBI single, then following a walk to Brian McCann, Chris Johnson scored another on a single to make it 2-0.

The Dodgers started their scoring in the second with a four-spot.  Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe singled leading off, and A.J. Ellis walked an out later.  Ryu then got into one that nearly landed past Upton in right, but was good enough for the sac-fly RBI to make it 2-1.

One big key to this game was the play of Carl Crawford, who struck out twice and had that horrible double play the last game.  Well, he more than showed up to play in this one on both sides of the field.  His three-run homer to deep right gave the Dodgers a 4-2 advantage.  He also had an amazing catch in foul territory in the eighth in which he tumbled into the stands, but thankfully came out OK.  Wow, that was equally as terrific as it was scary when he landed head first on concrete.

Unfortunately for Ryu, the third would be his last, as the Braves tied it up.  Three straight singles by Upton, Freddie Freeman, and Gattis started the inning.  Then Ryu really messed up by not finding the base on a double play ball from McCann.  Then he screwed up again by throwing home instead of to first on Johnson's little dribbler.  Ugh.

From there, it was all Dodgers, as the 4-4 tie seemed like a distant memory when it was all said and done.  They took the lead for good in the third.  Ramirez doubled to start, then scored on Adrian Gonzalez's RBI single.  The other run came on Schumaker's RBI single to center.

Chris Capuano pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Ryu to get the win, though it was a struggle at times.  He actually walked all three leadoff hitters, but nothing came of it.  It's like both teams traded secrets on how to fail with runners on.  Overall, the Braves were 3-for-11 with RISP, and the Dodgers were 7-for-15.

The fourth was a huge inning, as the Dodgers put up four runs again.  Crawford's bunt was bobbled by Alex Wood leading off for a costly error.  One out later, Ramirez came within inches of a home run, but settled for the RBI triple in going up 7-4.  After Puig's RBI single to center, Uribe got just enough of one out to right for the two-run shot, and the Dodgers were in full control at 10-4.

The final runs were scored in the eighth on RBI singles from Ramirez, Gonzalez, and Puig.  Those three combined for eight hits, six runs, and six RBIs.  Great numbers from the heart of the order.

A game like this shows just how deadly the Dodgers can be when they're not all swinging for the fences every at-bat.  They got a couple of homers, but of their 14 hits, 10 were singles.  Their situational hitting was obviously terrific, as they took it one base at a time in scoring multiple runs in four of the innings.  That's got to be a huge relief after grounding into three double plays and striking out way too much in Game 2.

With the good came some bad, as Ryu just never got going.  What makes it worse were the question marks surrounding him coming into this start about his health.  He appeared to be fine in this one, but his stuff certainly wasn't fooling the Braves.  Maybe it was just one of those starts, but if he is hurt, it's some bad news going forward.

The other downer was Paco Rodriguez, who could only get two outs in the ninth before Kenley Jansen had to strikeout McCann to end the game.  Paco is probably suffering from a dead arm, as he gave up three hits, including a two-run shot to dead center by Jayson Heyward, and a walk.  It's too bad considering how special he was for the majority of the season.  If the Dodgers do advance, don't be surprised if he's left off the NLCS roster.  He's lost his effectiveness it seems.

The Game 3 win lets Don Mattingly exhale some, and not have to make the tough decision of whether or not to bring back Clayton Kershaw on three days' rest.  I bet he would've, too, with the season on the line.  But now Ricky Nolasco gets his scheduled start, with Kershaw ready to go on Wednesday in Atlanta in the do-or-die situation.

Nolasco has a lot to prove, as anyone who's followed the Dodgers knows we've seen him at the top of his game, and the absolute bottom.  Maybe he'll be relaxed knowing the season is not over if he loses, and that his offense is on fire.  What also helps is that he's facing the ancient Freddy Garcia, whom I'll admit I didn't even know was on the Braves until last night.

The Braves still have plenty of power, but they also have plenty of more pressure on them to get this thing to a Game 5 back east.  The Dodgers will look to be off until Game 1 of the NLCS on Friday with a win.

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