Dodgers rout Braves to take 2-1 lead in NLDS

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It was a close back-and-forth affair between the Braves and Dodgers for the first three and a half innings in Game 3 of the NLDS in Los Angeles tonight. The game was tied at four-all, then the Dodger offense woke up, building a lead as large as nine runs entering the bottom of the ninth.

The Braves gave starter Julio Teheran a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on two RBI singles. The right-hander would fork over the lead in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu followed by a three-run home run by Carl Crawford. The Braves quickly tied the game up in the top of the third on two defensive miscues by Ryu, failing to touch first base covering on a double play attempt, then making a late throw home on a fielder’s choice attempt, allowing the Braves to score a run on each blunder.

In the bottom half of the third, the Dodgers took the lead again on RBI singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Skip Schumaker. They put the game out of reach in the fourth against Braves reliever Alex Wood as Hanley Ramirez hit an RBI triple, Yasiel Puig hit an RBI single, and Juan Uribe blasted an opposite-field two-run home run to put his team up 10-4. The four runs scored in the fourth were all unearned as Crawford reached to lead off the inning, prompting the avalanche.

Neither starter could make it past the third inning. Ryu needed 68 pitches to get through three innings, allowing the four runs on six hits and a walk while striking out just one batter. Teheran needed 66 pitches to get through two and two-thirds, allowing six runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out five.

Chris Capuano came on in relief of Ryu, holding the Braves scoreless over three innings without allowing a hit, though he did walk three while striking out three. J.P. Howell pitched one and one-third scoreless before giving way to Ronald Belisario, who finished the eighth without any damage.

With runners on first and second against Braves reliever Jordan Walden in the eighth, Ramirez lined a single to left-center to plate his team’s 11th run of the game. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez brought in Luis Avilan to keep the faintest glimmer of hope alive, but Gonzalez hit a grounder back up the middle which Avilan deflected. Second baseman Elliott Johnson was unable to make a play as the Dodgers’ 12th run crossed the plate. Puig lined an RBI single to right field, allowing Ramirez to touch home for run number 13. David Hale came in and finally closed the barn door after the horse had bolted. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called on Paco Rodriguez in the ninth. The lefty allowed a one-out two-run home run to Jason Heyward and a two-out single to Evan Gattis. Kenley Jansen came in and struck out Brian McCann for out number 27 to wrap up the 13-6 victory at long last.

The Dodgers can wrap up the NLDS at home tomorrow night behind starter Ricky Nolasco, who will oppose Braves right-hander Freddy Garcia in Game 4.

Clay Buchholz apologized to the Phillies for getting injured

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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.

According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.

It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.

Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.

Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.

Eric Thames leaves game with apparent injury

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Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.

The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.