Dan Haren blames shortest start since 2005 on stiff back

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Dan Haren didn’t make it out of the fourth inning Tuesday night against the punchless Twins lineup, coughing up five runs on eight hits in his shortest start since 2005.

Afterward he revealed the lower back stiffness that came on during his pregame bullpen session made it tough to finish pitches, which helps explain how Haren failed to record a strikeout in a start for the first time since 2004.

Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com notes that Haren has pitched 10 seasons in the majors without going on the disabled list and he’s trying to avoid doing so now, downplaying the severity of the injury. His next start will be worth watching and he gets another extremely favorable matchup at home versus the A’s.

Yasmani Grandal played himself out of NLCS Game 4

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Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.

Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.

Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.

Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.