Mike Minor pitches in as Braves bring the NLDS to Los Angeles at 1-1

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We knew going into the playoffs that the Braves’ biggest strength was their pitching and it shone through tonight against the Dodgers. Starter Mike Minor held the Dodgers to one run over six and one-third innings of work on eight hits and a walk while striking out five. The Dodgers’ lone run against him came on a Hanley Ramirez RBI double in the first inning that staked the Dodgers to a 1-0 lead.

The Braves struck back in the second as Andrelton Simmons doubled to right field to score Evan Gattis, tying the game at one apiece. They would take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth following a Freddie Freeman lead-off double and a two-out RBI single by Chris Johnson.

The Dodgers appeared to be in prime position to at least tie the game in the seventh, putting runners on first and third with one out on two infield singles by Skip Schumaker and pinch-hitter Michael Young, but Carl Crawford sharply grounded back to reliever Luis Avilan, who fired to shortstop Andrelton Simmons to complete an inning-ending double play.

The Braves added two crucial insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, taking advantage of some overmanaging by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (which we will cover in upcoming posts). Rather than let right-handed reliever Chris Withrow pitch to the light-hitting left-handed hitter Jose Constanza, Mattingly opted to call on lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez. That prompted Fredi Gonzalez to pinch-hit for Constanza with Reed Johnson, which then allowed Mattingly to walk Johnson to reacquire the platoon advantage by allowing Rodriguez to face Jason Heyward. Heyward responded by driving a single up the middle, scoring two runs.

In the eighth inning, Braves reliever David Carpenter helped breathe new life into the Dodgers, walking Mark Ellis to lead off the inning, then surrendering a two-run home run that just barely got over the fence in the left field corner, bringing the score to 4-3. He calmed down, striking out two, then gave way to closer Craig Kimbrel attempting a four-out save. Kimbrel got Juan Uribe to ground out to end the eighth inning, then worked around two ninth inning walks to seal the 4-3 victory for the Braves.

With the series tied at 1-1, play will resume on Sunday in Los Angeles as Braves starter Julio Teheran will oppose Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu.

 

Watch: Cavan Biggio delivers his first MLB hit

Cavan Biggio
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Blue Jays top prospect Cavan Biggio made his MLB debut on Friday; by Sunday, he had his first pair of big-league hits, too. His first big moment arrived in the third inning of the team’s series finale against the Padres, when he chopped a Robbie Erlin fastball into right field for a single.

Biggio’s hit proved instrumental in getting the Blue Jays on the board. He advanced Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to third base and, in the next at-bat, Brandon Drury grounded into a force out to drive in the club’s first run of the afternoon.

In the fourth, Biggio went… well, bigger (sorry). He worked a 1-2 count against right-handed reliever Matt Wisler, then unloaded a towering 404-foot solo shot for his first MLB home run:

The 24-year-old second baseman is poised to make a big impact for the Blue Jays in 2019. The son of Hall of Fame infielder/outfielder Craig Biggio, Cavan ranked no. 9 among the organization’s prospects at the start of the season and slashed a promising .307/.445/.504 with six home runs, five stolen bases (in six attempts), and a .949 OPS through 173 PA at Triple-A Buffalo before getting the call to the Show this weekend. If Sunday’s performance is anything to go off of, it looks like the Blue Jays will be able to count on similar production levels from the rookie at the major-league level as well.

The Blue Jays currently lead the Padres 3-1 in the fifth.