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.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.