Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three

Sloppy defense allows Braves to tie, but Dodgers quickly retake lead in third

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Carl Crawford delivered a gut-punch to the Braves in the bottom of the second, sending a three-run home run over the fence in right field to put the Dodgers up 4-2, but starter Hyun-Jin Ryu and some sloppy defense allowed the Braves to quickly tie the game at four apiece in the top of the third. But the relentless Dodger offense continued their assault to retake the lead.

Leading off the top of the third inning against Justin Upton, Ryu quickly fell behind 3-0, but battled back to 3-2 before Upton laced a line drive to center for a single. Freddie Freeman followed up with a single of his own, putting runners at first and second with nobody out. At the end of an 11-pitch at-bat that included seven foul balls, Gattis blooped a single to center to load the bases for Brian McCann. McCann hit a weak ground ball to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who fired to second to attempt a double play, but when shortstop Hanley Ramirez fired to Ryu covering first, Ryu couldn’t find the bag with his foot. Upton scored on the play, bringing the score to 4-3 in favor of the Dodgers.

Ryu made another miscue against Chris Johnson. The Braves third baseman hit a weak dribbler that bounced a few feet down the first base line. Ryu dashed off the mound, picked up the ball and fired home in an attempt to get Freeman, but the throw was a couple seconds too late. The gaffe allowed the Braves to tie the game at four-all. Andrelton Simmons mercifully grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Ryu is at 68 pitches through three innings.

The Dodgers continued attacking the Braves, however, retaking the lead in the bottom half of the third. Hanley Ramirez doubled to lead off the inning against Braves starter Julio Teheran. Adrian Gonzalez promptly knocked him in with a line drive single to left, putting the Dodgers back on top 5-4. Yasiel Puig beat out a double play attempt by the Braves infield, then advanced to second base on a throwing error by Johnson. Juan Uribe struck out for the second out of the inning, but Skip Schumaker gave the Dodgers some insurance with a line drive single to left field, scoring Puig to put the Dodgers up 6-4. A.J. Ellis then lined a single to right field, bringing Ryu to the plate.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pinch-hit Michael Young for Ryu, ending his night. His line: 3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K on 68 pitches. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez brought in Alex Wood in relief of Teheran, ending his starter’s night. Teheran’s line: 2.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 5 K on 66 pitches. Wood struck out Young to, at long last, end the third inning.

All in all, an eventful third inning in Game 3 of the NLDS. This game could have a huge impact on the final two games (if necessary) of the series since both teams will need at least six innings out of their respective bullpens to get through the night.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: