The Braves have relied on a cast of unlikely heroes to take the lead over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLDS this evening.
After Ronald Belisario took over for Clayton Kershaw in the seventh inning, he gave up a one-out triple to Elliot Johnson down the right field line. Yasiel Puig went into a slide to field the ball in the corner, possibly in an attempt to make a throw to second base, but the ball skipped past him and Johnson was able to scamper to third base. Pinch-hitter Jose Constanza, yes that Jose Constanza, then followed with a go-ahead RBI single to center to give the Braves the lead. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly then turned to J.P. Howell, who was able to wiggle out of a jam to keep the damage to the minimum, but the Braves lead it 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh.
For all the concern about Freddy Garcia starting tonight, he turned in a very respectable outing, allowing two runs over six innings while striking out six batters. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will turn to his bullpen to hold the lead and keep the Braves’ season afloat.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets starter Steven Matz has been pitching through pain for most of the season. He may need surgery to fix a nerve issue in his elbow. Matz was sidelined in spring training with an elbow injury and made his regular season debut on June 10.
Matz, 26, has struggled over 13 starts, posting a 6.08 ERA with a 48/19 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings. Many were scrambling for explanations for his pitching woes and now they have it.
According to Carig, the Mets let Matz skip his bullpen sessions to help him pitch through the pain. Given the Mets’ shoddy history of dealing with injuries, that’s not a good look for the club.
Carig noted on Twitter that Jacob deGrom offers some optimism for Matz’s case. deGrom underwent right elbow surgery to repair ulnar nerve damage last September and bounced back to have a great season this year.
Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to throw three innings in a simulated game on Monday. That simulated game went so well, he threw an extra inning, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Kershaw will make a minor league rehab start next and could be activated towards the end of next week.
Kershaw, 29, has been on the disabled list since July 24 with a lower back strain. That put the pause button on another outstanding season. He’s carrying a 15-2 record with a 2.04 ERA and a 168/24 K/BB ratio in 141 1/3 innings.
The 87-35 Dodgers have run away with the NL West, needing some combination of 20 wins and 20 Rockies losses (19 for the third-place Diamondbacks) to officially clinch the division. While the Dodgers are all but mathematically assured of reaching postseason baseball, the club would still like to get Kershaw as ready as possible over the next month-plus.