Justin Turner
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Dodgers top Brewers in nailbiter to tie 1-1 in the NLCS

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The Dodgers clinched their first Championship Series win on Saturday, defeating the Brewers 4-3 in Game 2 to snap their rivals’ 12-game winning streak and even the standings in the NLCS. With the win, they’ll also receive the opportunity to clinch a World Series berth at home, as the next three games are scheduled to play out at Dodger Stadium. Given how close the last two games have been, however, it’s looking less and less likely that either team will completely dominate the series.

Case in point: both left-handed starters Wade Miley and Hyun-Jin Ryu were hot out of the gate, keeping baserunners to a minimum as they coasted through four scoreless innings. In the top of the first inning, David Freese whacked a long line drive out to the center field fence in what would have been a surefire home run had Lorenzo Cain not leapt backward to retrieve it.

Ryu, on the other hand, didn’t see a real threat at the plate until the third inning, when Miley hit a double out to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2013. Nothing came of the hit, though, as Cain struck out on a change-up in the dirt and Christian Yelich grounded out to end the inning.

In the fifth, the Brewers finally caught another break against Ryu. Orlando Arcia took a first-pitch cutter and returned it to center field for a home run. Miley and Cain went back to back with a single and double (clocked at a staggering 113.2 MPH), respectively, prompting Dave Roberts to pull his left-hander with just one out and runners on second and third. Ryan Madson stepped in to replace Ryu and minimized the damage as best he could: first, with an intentional walk to Yelich, then with a run-scoring groundout from Ryan Braun that boosted the Brewers’ lead to 2-0.

By the middle of the sixth, Miley was closing in on 75 pitches, and a two-out single from Chris Taylor signaled the end of his outing. He finished his first Championship Series start with 5 2/3 innings of two-hit, three-strikeout ball, marking the first time since 2000 that a starting pitcher has allowed four (or fewer) baserunners in back-to-back scoreless outings in the postseason (h/t Matthew Stein). Per MLB.com’s Andrew Simon, his double and single also marked the first multi-hit game by a pitcher (including at least one extra-base hit) since Chris Carpenter’s two-hit performance in the 2012 NLDS.

With Miley retired to the dugout for the remainder of the afternoon, the Dodgers seized their opportunity against Milwaukee’s ‘pen. Corbin Burnes walked Max Muncy to start the seventh, then gave up the first run of the day after Manny Machado and Cody Bellinger snapped the shutout on a pair of base hits. The freebies didn’t end there: Jeremy Jeffress relieved Burnes and promptly gave up a hit to Joc Pederson to load the bases, then walked Austin Barnes to gift the Dodgers their second run of the game.

In the eighth, things only got worse for Milwaukee. Taylor chopped a base hit out toward third base and came around to score when Justin Turner unleashed a 388-foot, double-deck shot into the left field bleachers for his first home run of the postseason — and the Dodgers’ first lead of Game 2.

Unlike Friday’s last-minute rally attempt, this one actually stuck. In the ninth, Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen subbed in for his first appearance of the NLCS and induced a pop-out from Arcia for the first out of the inning. Hernan Perez clawed his way through a six-pitch at-bat to take a walk, but neither Cain nor Yelich were able to skirt Jansen’s cutter and drive in the winning run. Cain went down swinging on three straight pitches, and Yelich’s game-ending groundout brought the Brewers’ dominant 12-game winning streak to its inevitable end as the Dodgers evened the series with a 4-3 victory.

The teams will take a travel day on Sunday before resuming the series at Dodger Stadium on Monday night. This time, it’ll be a matchup of righties, with Walker Buehler and Jhoulys Chacín scheduled to face off at 7:39 PM EDT.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.