Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
CHAVEZ RAVINE (CBSLA.com) — Among the many emotions at Dodger Stadium on Sunday afternoon — pride in the first post-season game at the ball park since 2009, seeing a Dodger rookie start a post-season game for the first time since 2008, and the first post-season match-up between the two clubs since 1996 — was the comforting reminder that there were to be no renditions of the “Tomahawk Chop” organized on a broad scale.
That being said, Dodger fans could watch the ball game without fear of distraction as their club came a game closer to the realization of their dream, 25 years in the making.
The Dodgers overcame a rough outing by rookie Hyun Jin Ryu to beat the Atlanta Braves 13-6 in Game 3 of the divisional series and are within one win of advancing to the NLCS to compete for the National League Pennant.
The Dodgers need one more win in the series to advance to the NLCS to compete against either the Pittsburgh Pirates or the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League Pennant, which the club hasn’t won since 1988.
The 13 runs put up by the Dodgers ties the most runs in the franchise’s post-season history (1956 vs New York Yankees).
It was just the 11th time in post-season history that two rookies faced off as starting pitchers, and the first time since 2007.
Ryu’s start was not what he wanted to see. With two outs in the first, the Braves put a pair of runs on the board after singles by Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson after a deep double by Justin Upton soared over the head of replacement center fielder Skip Schumaker.
Up to that point, all seven of Atlanta’s runs in the series had occurred with two outs.
The hint of response came in the bottom of the inning, but never materialized from a whisper, after Carl Crawford led off with a single to left and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Ellis each struck out and Hanley Ramirez flew to left, and the small ball continued to pose a problem for the Dodgers.
Yasiel Puig rekindled the torch of momentum in the second inning with a leadoff single into the gap in left-center. Juan Uribe followed with a pop up that drifted into the shallow outfield and puzzlingly fell in front of a lethargic Gattis in left, putting runners on first and second with no outs.
A.J. Ellis walked to load the bases with one out after a questionable call by home plate umpire John Hirschbeck resulted in a called strikeout for Skip Schumaker.
Ryu, who became the first Korean-born pitcher to start a playoff game, then began filling in the relatively shallow hole he found himself in after the top of the first when he smacked a fly ball deep to right. The ball flew farther than Upton in right field anticipated, and he had to perform an acrobatic stretch to make the catch. The sacrifice scored Puig and cut the deficit to one run.
That was when Crawford showed his big bat.
With two outs, and a 2-2 count, Crawford connected off Teheran to launch a massive 3-run shot into the right field stands, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead.
It was the first time since 2008 a Dodger hit a post-season home run with more than one runner on board since Manny Ramirez in 2008.
As soon as the Dodgers began holding their own, Ryu steadily began letting it go. Ryu gave up three consecutive singles in the top of the third to load the bases with Braves and no outs to work with.
A hard grounder from Brian McCann resulted in a run and only a single out after Ryu was unable to get his foot on the bag to record the double play.
Even more bizarre was Ryu’s decision to go to home after a slow dribbler by Johnson. The play was no where near close, and resulted in the tying run crossing the plate without an out. The inning finally came to an end after Andrelton Simmons grounded into a double play.
Following the trend of putting the leadoff runner aboard, Hanley Ramirez doubled to left center to start off the bottom of the third. He scored when Adrian Gonzalez connected to the same spot in left center, giving the Dodgers a 5-4 lead. Puig’s speed then prevented a double play, and, coincidentally, resulted in the Wild Horse taking second on a bad throw to Freddie Freeman at first.
Skip Schumaker got in on the action with a bloop single to left, scoring Puig from second and giving the Dodgers a two-run lead.
Ryu’s day was done after three innings, and the Dodgers brought in Chris Capuano in the fourth, who settled down to retire the side after a leadoff walk.
Crawford represented the Dodgers’ fourth consecutive leadoff runner to reach base safely when reliever Alex Wood committed a throwing error.
It took Hanley Ramirez 1,095 games to reach his first post-season this year — and continued to make the Dodgers ask themselves how they ever would have gotten this far without him.
Ramirez continued his post-season terror later in the inning by launching a ball deep to left-center, which eventually fell and hit the wall, rolling into the open spaces of center field, allowing Crawford to give the Dodgers their seventh run. Puig brought in the eighth with a single to center.
Juan Uribe, keeping up with the theme of the inning, sent a shot to right field, just beyond the reach of Upton, for a 2-run home run, extending the Dodgers lead to 10-4.
In the seventh inning, Puig could be seen favoring his right hip after grounding out to second earlier in the inning. He still took the field in the eighth, but the issue was raised of whether the hip, which had given Puig issues earlier in the season, should be grounds to sit the outfielder until Monday’s Game 4. His swing did not appear to be affected, however, as he took part in an eighth inning in which he smacked an RBI single to right.
With the six-run lead still intact, Crawford displayed some fireworks in the eighth when he tracked a fly ball by McCann down the left field line. The ball drifted foul towards the stands, but Crawford tracked its flight to perfection, reaching over the wall for the grab, and tumbling into the aisle in the process. Crawford was able to hold on to the ball for the out, and most certainly secured a place in ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10.
For good measure, Ramirez concluded his night by adding a single, his first of the post-season, to his plethora of productivity, to score Crawford.
The Dodgers will go for the series on Monday at 6:37 p.m.