Hyun-Jin Ryu pitches a gem, Dodgers defeat Braves 6-0 in NLDS Game 1

Harry How/Getty Images
1 Comment

Clayton Kershaw didn’t start Game 1 of the NLDS for the Dodgers. No problem. The Dodgers gave the nod to Hyun-Jin Ryu, who went out and twirled a gem against the Braves on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium as his team won 5-0, taking a 1-0 series lead.

Ryu was staked to a lead early as Joc Pederson led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run off of Mike Foltynewicz. Max Muncy tacked on a three-run homer in the second. That was more than enough offense. Enrique Hernández added a solo homer in the sixth off of Brad Brach to make it 5-0. David Freese knocked in one more run just for good measure in the eighth with a sacrifice fly.

Ryu pitched seven stress-free innings, yielding just four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts on 104 pitches. The most the Braves threatened was putting runners on first and second base with two outs in the fifth, but Ryu got out of that by getting Kurt Suzuki to fly out.

Fellow lefty Caleb Ferguson took over in the eighth, setting the Braves down in 1-2-3 fashion, getting Charlie Culberson to ground out, then fanning Lane Adams and Ronald Acuña. Staying with the lefty theme, manager Dave Roberts sent Alex Wood out to the mound for the ninth. He got Johan Camargo to fly out, then Freddie Freeman to strike out. The Braves still kept hope alive as Nick Markakis and Tyler Flowers both singled. Roberts came out and called on his first right-hander of the night, bringing in Dylan Floro. Floro got Ozzie Albies to ground out to end the game in a 6-0 victory.

Funnily enough, the Braves out-hit the Dodgers six to five. The Dodgers, however, out-walked the Braves eight to none.

The Dodgers and Braves return to the battlefield on Firday night with a 9:37 PM ET start, broadcast on FS1. Kershaw will oppose Aníbal Sánchez.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.