Dodgers starter Walker Buehler needed just five pitches to get through the bottom of the first inning of NLDS Game 3 against the Braves on Sunday night. He needed many more to see his way through the second.
Buehler walked Nick Markakis on four pitches to open the bottom of the second, a harbinger of things to come. Buehler managed to strike out Johan Camargo and Kurt Suzuki consecutively, but then Ozzie Albies singled to center field. Cody Bellinger misplayed it, allowing Markakis to advance to third base and Albies to second. Manager Dave Roberts opted to intentionally walk No. 8 hitter Charlie Culberson to load the bases with opposing starter Sean Newcomb coming to the plate. Buehler completely lost the ability to hit the strike zone as he walked Newcomb on four pitches, forcing in a run.
Acuña stepped to the plate and Buehler still could not throw strikes. He fell behind 3-0, then threw what was objectively ball four, a fastball six inches above the strike zone. Home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called it a strike, however, which seemed to be a gift to Buehler. On the next pitch, Buehler threw a 98 MPH fastball down the middle, which Acuña lifted 414 feet for a grand slam, putting the Braves up 5-0.
Acuña, 20, is now the youngest player in baseball history to hit a grand slam in the postseason. The record was previously held by Mickey Mantle, who was 21 when he hit a grand slam in the 1953 World Series.
Not long after the new ownership group bought the Miami Marlins, face of the franchise Derek Jeter made it clear that he wanted the home runs sculpture beyond the outfield fence gone. He simply doesn’t like it aesthetically and many think that, among Jeter’s goals, he’d like to erase any trace of Jeff Loria’s legacy, which includes the sculpture.
The problem: the sculpture is not Jeter’s to remove. The sculpture is public property, purchased as part of the Art in Public Places program, which requires art to be installed for the public in county-owned buildings, which includes Marlins Park. Miami-Dade officials have said that moving it was not possible as the sculpture was “not moveable” and was “permanently installed: as it was designed specifically for Marlins Park. And that’s before you get into how logistically complicated it would be to move it. It’s seven stories tall and is connected to a hydraulic system, plumbing and there’s electricity.
What Jeter wants, however, Jeter eventually gets. From the Miami Herald:
The Miami Marlins won county permission on Tuesday to move its home-run sculpture out of Marlins Park to the plaza outside . . . In its new location outside, “Homer” will still turn on for home runs, as well as at the end of every home win and every day at 3:05 p.m., an homage to Miami’s original area code.
It may or may not be moved before Opening Day, but once it is moved there will be a new seating and standing room only area for spectators where the sculpture currently sits.