Braves pushed to brink with Game 3 loss in LA
Teheran allows six runs in 2 2/3 innings as club can't contain Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Julio Teheran spent the past six months offering every indication he had the talent and mental fortitude to compete in the postseason. But in his first postseason start on Sunday, he mainly showed his youth.
What had the potential to be an interesting duel between two of baseball's top rookie pitchers instead became a night when Teheran and Hyun-Jin Ryu simply served as catalysts to the early-inning offensive slugfest the Dodgers survived on the way to claiming Sunday night's 13-6 win over the Braves in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
"I think [Teheran] just left some balls out over the plate, you know, and made some mistakes," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "And with [the Dodgers], if you do that, you're going to look down at a gas tank with a lighted match."
Having a short-term memory could prove beneficial to the Braves when they send Freddy Garcia to the mound to oppose Clayton Kershaw in Game 4 on Monday night (9:30 p.m. ET on TBS). Instead of being burdened with the frustration that occurred 24 hours earlier, they will simply have to focus on the reality that their season will be over if they do not win the final two games of this best-of-five series.
The Dodgers opted to pitch Kershaw on short rest instead of Ricky Nolasco. If the Braves are fortunate enough to win on Monday, they will return to Atlanta to prepare to face Zack Greinke in Game 5, which would be played Wednesday night. This might not be viewed as a welcome challenge. But given the alternative, it is one the Braves are hoping to encounter while bidding to prevent the Dodgers from notching the one win they need to advance to the NL Championship Series.
"Tonight is over with," Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said. "Whether we won or lost tonight, tonight is over with at this point in time. We've got to come back out with the same mindset we did today, and that is to win a ballgame."
Everything seemed to be going according to plan when the Braves provided Teheran a two-run advantage before he took the mound to begin his first career postseason start. But after appearing stoic throughout the regular season, the young Atlanta hurler showed his youth as he allowed the Dodgers to claim a lead with a four-run second inning and then regain it with two more runs in the third.
Teheran was charged with six earned runs and eight hits in just 2 2/3 innings. His early exit prompted the entry of fellow 22-year-old rookie Alex Wood, who allowed the Dodgers to deliver the crushing blow with a four-run fourth inning, which included Juan Uribe's two-run homer and a triple recorded by Hanley Ramirez, whose six extra-base hits over these first three games matches the Dodgers' record during a postseason series.
"It's one of those games and you forget about it," Gonzalez said.
The 13 runs matches the most the Dodgers have ever scored and the most the Braves have ever allowed in a postseason game. The only other time Atlanta surrendered this total was in Game 6 of the 1992 NLCS against the Pirates. One night later, the Braves were celebrating one of the most memorable wins in franchise history and enjoying a night now simply known as the one during which Sid slid.
"We don't quit," Heyward said. "I don't expect anybody expects us to quit. We haven't quit all season."
Heyward's ninth-inning two-run home run accounted for his first career postseason homer and made the final score slightly more respectable. But it certainly did not come close to erasing all that went wrong after the Braves took advantage of an ineffective Ryu, who allowed four earned runs and six hits in three innings.
In hindsight, the early eruption might have actually been a bad omen. This marked the first time the Braves scored at least two runs in the first inning of a postseason game since Game 2 of the 2000 NLDS, which they lost, 10-4, to the Cardinals.
Ryu's early exit was not necessarily good for the Braves, who saw their nemesis, Chris Capuano, quiet the storm for the hosts with three scoreless innings. Capuano has a 1.75 ERA in his past nine starts against Atlanta, dating back to 2006.
"Cappie was the key to settling that game down," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
Teheran surrendered consecutive singles, including one that was aided by Evan Gattis' defensive limitations in left field, to begin Los Angeles' four-run second inning. The rookie hurler compounded the situation when he issued a one-out walk to A.J. Ellis after getting ahead with a 1-2 count. Ryu followed with a sacrifice fly to deep right, and Carl Crawford gave the Dodgers their first lead when he lined a three-run homer over the right-field wall.
"He wasn't as sharp as we've seen him before in the past," Gonzalez said of Teheran, who did not allow more than five runs in any of his 30 regular-season starts.
Justin Upton, who doubled and scored in the first inning, notched the first of the three consecutive singles the Braves produced to begin the third. Ryu then missed first base while attempting to step on the bag on Brian McCann's potential double-play grounder. He also made an ill-advised late throw to the plate in an attempt to prevent Freddie Freeman from scoring on Chris Johnson's game-tying dribbler down the first-base line.
But Ryu limited the damage to two runs in his 34-pitch third inning, which ended with Andrelton Simmons grounding into a double play. After his teammates tied the game, Teheran came back in the bottom half of the inning and allowed consecutive doubles to Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez before recording an out.
"You don't expect teams to quit, especially at their ballpark," Heyward said. "We jumped out early. That's our job to do. But at the same time, in the playoffs, you have to do whatever you can to keep runs off the board."