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.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.