UPDATE: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Avila exited the game with a left patellar tendon strain and is considered day-to-day.
9:46 p.m. ET: Alex Avila was forced to make an early exit from Game 5 of the ALCS, two innings after a home plate collision with David Ross.
Avila twisted his left knee in the collision with Ross, then took a foul tip off the facemask in the top of the fourth inning. Combine that with the beating he took yesterday, both behind the plate and hitting, Tigers manager Jim Leyland decided to make a change.
Not having Avila available hurt the Tigers in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Brayan Pena came up as a pinch-hitter with runners and first and second and grounded into an inning-ending double play against Jon Lester. The Red Sox still lead it 4-0 going into the top of the fifth inning.
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.