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

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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.

The earliest known baseball game to be commemorated. In England.

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If you’ve ever been to the United Kingdom, you’ve almost certainly seen buildings and parks and stuff with blue plaques on them. They’re historical markers which say things like “Lord Nigel-Hogg-Snootbury lived here, 1858-1869” or “Musician Ian Dexys, singer for the band The High Numbers, overdosed in this flat in 1970.” Stuff like that. They’re put up by a body called English Heritage, which manages all the old buildings and monuments and stuff in the country. You may be familiar with some of its portfolio.

I’ve made a lot of friends in the world of British baseball recently, which I suppose is what landed me on the press release for the latest blue plaque being unveiled. The subject: the first ever baseball game. And no, it’s not in Cooperstown, New York or the Elysian Fields in Hoboken. It’s in, of all places, Surrey:

Baseball, surely, is American? No, sorry, it’s English!

The first documented game was played in 1749 in Ashley Park, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey on the estate belonging to the wife of Charles Sackville, Earl of Middlesex, who also played in the match. Another of the players was his friend, Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of George II . . . To celebrate this historical occasion exactly 270 years on, Walton Cricket Club in Ashley Park will be honoured with a Blue Plaque. The Blue Plaque unveiling will be a part of an all-day event on July 7,2019 hoping to attract 2,000 – 3,000 visitors. This will be the first time that baseball has been played on this pitch for 270 years! The wording on the plaque will read: “The Prince of Wales played in the world’s first recorded game of baseball on 12th September 1749 here in Ashley Park.”

This may ring a bell to longtime readers, as I wrote about this about six years ago when an author and researcher named David Block discovered a reference to the 1749 game in the Whitehall Evening Post. It read thusly:

“On Tuesday last, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Lord Middlesex, played at Bass-Ball, at Walton in Surry; notwithstanding the weather was extreme bad, they continued playing several hours.”

Block has uncovered many other references to baseball in 18th and 19th century England. In some ways the game described in the sources he has found was similar to the baseball we know: pitching, hitting, running bases, and batters being put out somehow. In others it was much different. The bases were much closer together, the pitcher stood much closer, the batter didn’t, in fact, have a bat, but swatted at the ball with his palm, and the ball itself was soft enough for this to be accomplished without pain. Whether one wants to call that game “baseball” is probably a subjective decision.

It’d have to be, wouldn’t it? That’s because, as we have written in this space many times, baseball was never really invented as much as it evolved from a number of British sports such as roundersbat and trap, and stool ball. Cricket, too, obviously, arose along with baseball and these other sports in some fashion and all of them share certain elements. They’re cousins, a couple of which left home and became big and famous and a couple of which stayed in school seemingly forever or never left home and just hangs out at the pub all the time. Like, literally rounders is generally thought of as a school kids’ game and bat and trap is played in pub leagues, mostly in Kent.

Deciding which game, when, was the first “baseball” game is kind of up to you, I suppose. Though I’d argue that what they’re commemorating in Surrey in July is just as valid if not more so than the complete fabrication that resulted in Abner Doubleday and Cooperstown getting credit for it for so many years.