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Dodgers Devour Braves

Max Muncy

Max Muncy

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers’ bats started to come alive late in Game 2 of the NLCS. It didn’t take them that long to get going in Game 3.

A major league record was broken in the top of the first inning Wednesday as the Dodgers bludgeoned the Braves for 11 runs on their way to a 15-3 blowout victory.

The Dodgers needed just two pitches to put a run on the board, with Corey Seager following an infield single by Mookie Betts with an RBI double. Kyle Wright actually retired the next two hitters he faced, putting a runner at third base with two out and the Dodgers up just one run.

Then, the wheels fell off.

Wright allowed the next five batters to reach base, a stretch that was punctuated by a three-run homer hit by Joc Pederson and then a solo shot clubbed by Edwin Rios. The right-hander then walked Chris Taylor on his 28th pitch of the night and was pulled from the game. It was 6-0 at the time, but the Dodgers weren’t nearly done.[[ad:athena]]

Grant Dayton relieved Wright and did little to stop the bleeding. Another walk, a single and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for Max Muncy, who launched a mammoth blast into the right-center field seats for a grand slam.

Muncy’s slam gave the Dodgers 11 first-inning runs, which is the most runs a team has scored in any postseason inning in history. You might recall that the Braves gave up 10 runs to the Cardinals in the first inning of Game 5 of the NLDS last season. Unsurprisingly, they’re the only club ever to allow 10+ runs in an inning multiple times in the playoffs.

All told, the Dodgers finished the night with 15 runs on 16 hits, with all the runs coming in the first three innings of the game. Both managers started pulling some of their position players in the fourth inning with the outcome essentially decided.

One of the guys who was lifted was Corey Seager, who was just a triple shy of the cycle after three innings. Muncy, Pederson and Cody Bellinger also had big nights, all reaching base four times apiece. All of them homered.

Skipper Dave Roberts confirmed following his club’s Game 3 win that Clayton Kershaw is good to go for Game 4. Kershaw, of course, had to be scratched from his scheduled Game 2 start because of back spasms, but he’s done some throwing since then and seems to be okay.

The Braves didn’t really have any great options to start Game 4, which explains why they’re handing the ball to Bryse Wilson. Wilson is just 22 and a nice prospect, but he’s mostly struggled in the majors and will be pitching on 17 days’ rest. He did have a couple solid showings late in the regular season and that’s presumably why manager Brian Snitker is going with him. Obviously, the leash will be short.

We know the NLCS will go at least five games now, but we don’t know who the starters will be for that contest. Snitker hasn’t ruled out Max Fried going on short rest, depending on how things unfold in Game 4. Dustin May would seem to be the logical choice to start Game 5 for the Dodgers, but Roberts will surely have him available for Game 4 in case Kershaw has another flare-up with his back.

Houston Hangs On

Jose Altuve’s defensive issues in the ALCS have been well documented, but there continues to be nothing wrong with his bat.

Altuve launched a solo home run and added an RBI double in the Astros’ 4-3 win over the Rays on Wednesday in Game 4 of the ALCS. The win allowed Houston to avoid a sweep and fight another day.

It’s become something of a nightly tradition for Altuve to go deep in the first inning, and it happened again Wednesday when he homered off of Tyler Glasnow. The second baseman has ripped a long ball in the opening frame in three of the four games of the series.

George Springer also had a big night at the dish for the Astros, which should come as no surprise if you’ve been following the team’s postseason exploits the last several years.

After Altuve briefly moved ahead of him on the postseason home run list with his 18th career playoff bomb, Springer pulled back even with a mammoth two-run shot in the fifth inning off of Glasnow. The ball landed in the fourth deck of the Western Metal building at Petco Park and, more importantly, put the Astros ahead what turned out to be for good.

The Rays got another home run from Randy Arozarena (who else?), as the red-hot 25-year-old took Zack Greinke deep with a two-run shot in the fourth inning which knotted the game up at the time. Tampa Bay mounted a rally in the ninth inning, with Willy Adames just missing a game-tying home run when he ripped an RBI double off the wall. However, Yoshi Tsutsugo flew out to end the game and leave the tying run at third base.

Greinke failed to go five innings in either of his first two outings this postseason, but he went six strong in this one, yielding just the two-run shot to Arozarena and that’s it. It looked like manager Dusty Baker was going to pull Greinke after consecutive one-out singles in the sixth. The skipper went to the mound with Arozarena due up but was evidently talked out of making a move by catcher Martin Maldonado.

Baker’s decision paid off. Greinke struck out Arozarena on a borderline check-swing call before allowing an infield single to Ji-Man Choi to load the bases. The right-hander ran the count full to Mike Brosseau but got Brosseau to chase one out of the zone for strike three. Greinke punched out seven batters on the night.

So who will the Astros send to the mound Thursday in Game 5 as they try to stave off elimination again? Well, we don’t know yet. It won’t be Framber Valdez on short rest, though, as Baker plans to hold the young southpaw back for a potential Game 6.

Most likely, it will wind up being a bullpen game for Houston. It might be for the Rays, as well, as they have also yet to announce their Game 5 starter.

Quick Hits: Padres general manager A.J. Preller indicated Wednesday that neither Mike Clevinger (elbow) nor Dinelson Lamet (biceps) will require surgery. Preller also said that “it sounds like there’s interest on both sides” in a contract extension for Fernando Tatis Jr. … A recent MRI confirmed Luke Voit has plantar fasciitis. He’ll be in a walking boot for about a week. … Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Wednesday that it’s “certainly a fair question” whether Gary Sanchez will be the Yankees’ starting catcher in 2021. … Max Stassi will be sidelined for 4-6 months following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. … The Angels have granted permission for the White Sox to interview Tony La Russa for their managerial opening, Bob Nightengale of USA Today has reported.