Minor Outduels Greinke, Braves Edge Dodgers To Even Series

Dodgers 3 10 0-GAME 2Braves  4 6 0WP-Minor-1-0LP-Greinke-0-1SV-Kimbrel-1HR-Hanley-1

Series Tied 1-1

Seriously my blood pressure guys, these games don’t help them. The Braves edged the Dodgers 4-3 in game two, to even up their best three out of five playoff series as the series shifts to Dodger Stadium for the next two games.

Mike Minor somehow pitched a little bit better than his counterpart Zack Greinke, but the game was poorly managed by Don Mattingly who made a huge mistake intentionally walking Reed Johnson to pitch to Jason Heyward. The slugger’s two-run single in the bottom of the seventh off of Paco Rodriguez was a momentum changer and the ultimate death blow for the Dodgers. Fear not Dodger fans, we still have stolen the home field. We will prevail.

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke (21) reacts after giving up a run to the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning of game two of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Turner Field.-Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The game was a pitching duel between Minor and Greinke up until the bottom of the seventh. Minor threw 6.1 one run frames, and somehow dodged the bullet during multiple scoring rallies from the Dodgers. He allowed eight hits, and whiffed five, and picked up the win. This was the 25 year old left handers first postseason start and he was very sharp. Greinke was good too in his six frames, but Minor was just a little better. The Braves sealed it with the two runs in the seventh, despite the Dodger’s failed rally in the top of the eighth.

The Dodgers got on the board early with a run in the first. Mark Ellis walked, and Hanley Ramirez’s RBI double put the Dodgers up 1-0. The Braves evened the score in the second frame when Evan Gattis singled, and scored on a Simmons double.

Two double plays killed Dodger rallies in the second and third, and the Braves took the lead in the bottom of the fourth. A Freddie Freeman lead-off double, and a Chris Johnson ground ball single gave the Braves a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers hit into their third double play of the game in the top of the seventh which punted a bases loaded rally.

The Braves took advantage in the bottom half of the seventh when McCann walked, there was a C.Johnson single, and then a sacrifice from Simmons. With two outs and runners at second and third, Mattingly made the most foolish decision Ive ever seen, he intentionally walked Reed Johnson to pitch to Jason Heyward. He was going for a lefty on lefty match-up and it didn’t work. Heyward stroked a single into center, two runs scored, and the Dodgers were never able to recover.

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There was a rally in the eighth off of Darrell Carpenter, when M.Ellis walked again, and Hanley drilled a line drive home run inside the left field corner which pulled the Dodgers to within 4-3. But that was all they could muster. Super closer Criag Kimbrel was brought in and despite walking two batters in the ninth, recorded a four out save. Dee Gordon was thrown out trying to steal with Ethier at the plate and one out in the ninth. The replay initially showed Gordon to be safe, but there was no flag for Mattingly to throw. Crawford whiffed for the final out, and the Braves tie up the series. I really dont like the Braves man. They have so many Johnsons, and Uptons. I mean how many Johnsons and Uptons can one team have?

The Dodgers jump on the Braves and on the scoreboard immediately in the top of the first. Mike Minor starts fine by retiring Carl Crawford on a weak grounder to first. Then he misses and walks Mark Ellis. Hanley Ramirez who was down 0-2 in the count mind you, slices an RBI double down the right field line and corner. M.Ellis scores to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Adrian Gonzalez’s grounder moves Hanley to third. With two outs, Yasiel Puig’s high chopper to first is the third out, as Freddie Freeman beats the foot race to the bag. Dodgers lead 1-0.

Zack Greinke works a quick and quiet bottom of the first inning. After falling behind 2-0 on Jason Heyward, he gets him to ground out to second. He also retires Justin Upton on a swinging whiff (with some serious cheese), and gets Freeman to fly to left.

The Dodgers get a lead-off single from Juan Uribe in the top of the second, but Skip Schumaker’s double play ruins it. But A.J. Ellis singles through the hole at short. Greinke’s fly ball to Heyward ends the frame.

Ughhhh just awful- Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves get a single to left from Evan Gattis to open the bottom of the second frame. Catcher Brian McCann’s grounder moves Gattis to second. Greinke flaps his wings and whiffs Chris Johnson on some nastiness. But then Andrelton Simmon’s run scoring double over the head of Yasiel Puig scores Gattis to tie the game at 1-1. Greinke gets out of the inning by retiring Elliot Johnson.

Another double play screws the Dodgers in the top of the third. Carl Crawford’s lead-off single up the middle is negated by a DP from M.Ellis. The third out is a Hanley grounder to third.

In the bottom of the third, Greinke retires Minor for the first out. Heyward grounds out as well, and Justin Upton on a grounder back to the box, that allows Greinke to show off his ninja fielding skills. The Dodgers rally in the fourth frame falls flat after Gonzalez’s single. Puig whiffs, and a Uribe broken bat pop fly, and a Schumaker comebacker stops the Dodgers cold.

Oy Mattingly-Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves threaten in their half of the four, when a double from Freeman puts the Dodgers and Greinke in trouble. But consecutive grounders to Gattis and McCann get him almost out of the inning, with Freeman moving to third. Dodger killer Chris Johnson stood in Greinke’s way of preserving the tie. Of course Johnson’s piddly ground ball single scores Freeman, giving the Braves their first lead of the series, at 2-1. Greine gets out of the frame without further damage. 2-1 Atlanta after four frames.

That one run lead must have given Minor confidence because he blows through the top of the fifth quickly, retiring the Dodgers in order. Crawford makes the last out  by flailing at a high fastball around his eyes.

In the bottom of the fifth, Greinke gets Johnson to fly to Schumaker. Yasiel Puig makes a nice running catch on Minor’s slicing drive to right for the second out. Greinke paints the corner on a called third strike to Heyward, and we move to the top of the sixth.

The Dodgers threaten in the top of the sixth. Hanley delivers a one-out double down the left field line. Gonzo whiffs on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Puig barely beats out a slow roller to third. But Uribe whiffs on a ball in the dirt. The Dodgers waste a golden opportunity to tie the game. Greinke retires the Atlanta side in order in the bottom of the sixth. We go to the Seventh with the Braves clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Young- Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Schumaker reaches on an infield single to short in the top of the seventh.  Simmons tries to bare hand but his throw is way offline. A.J. is ordered to lay down a sacrifice, and he does, which moves Schumaker over to second. The Braves hook Minor and go to their bullpen. Minor comes out with a 2-1 lead, and can win it, lose it, or have nothing to do with it after turning in 6.1 effective frames. Minor allowed eight hits, one walk, and whiffed five Dodgers on 97 pitches. Right hander Luis Ayala is called in to the game to face pinch-hitter Michael Young who is hitting for Greinke. Birdman’s night is done after six frames.

Young’s little dribbler to second pulls Freeman off the bag, and Ayala is late covering, and Young beats the throw for an infield single. Schumaker moves to third. Atlanta makes another pitching change. Enter lefty Luis Avilan to pitch to Crawford. Of course Crawford ruins everything and grounds into a double play, and the Dodgers feel the noose tightening.

Chris Withrow comes on for the bottom of the eighth. The Braves look to extend their lead with a walk to McCann, who comes out for a runner, (Justin Upton), and a broken bat single to C.Johnson. Simmons’ sacrifice moves the runners to second and third. Withrow freezes E.Johnson for the second out. Mattinyl makes a move, and calls in Paco Rodriguez. Pinch-hitter and former Dodger Reed Johnson is walked intentionally for some unknown reason to load the bases. Mattingly is going with the lefty on lefty match-up against Heyward. The Dodgers lose this battle, as Heyward singles up the middle to plate two, and the Braves now lead 4-1. Ronald Belisario is brought in, just because why not at this point. Although Belisario cant throw strikes, and walks J.Upton to load the bases. Finally Belisario records the last out, and we move into the eighth with the Dodgers now trailing 4-1.

David Carpenter is on the mound as the Dodgers rally in the top of the eighth. M.Ellis walks, and Hanley socks a two-run shot just inside the left field corner to pull the Dodgers within one run. The score is 4-3 Atlanta. Gonzo whiffs, which brings up Puig. Who of course whiffs swinging. Two outs, and it’s up to Uribe. Atlanta isn’t messing around and brings in Kimbrel to face Uribe. Kimbrel gets Uribe to ground out to end the inning, but the Dodgers get close.

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Brian Wilson comes in to pitch the bottom of the eighth and easily sets the Braves down in order, which includes whiffs to one of the Johnsons, and Uptons.

Move to the top of the ninth. Last chance for the Dodgers down 4-3. Kimbrel is looking for a four-out save and to tie the series for the Braves. The Dodgers have their 7-8-9 hitters due up. Schumaker whiffs leading-off. A.J. works a clutch walk. Mattingly uses his one trump card and has Andre Ethier pinch-hit for Wilson’s spot. Dee Gordon is sent into pinch-run for A.J., and the whole world knows he’s going to steal. The Braves were ready and Gordon tries to steal on the very next pitch. He’s thrown out on a very close play, but it looked like he was safe from the replays. Ethier draws a walk. Mattingly has Van Slyke pinch-run for him. Van Slyke. I don’t know. But Crawford predictably whiffs for the final out, and the Braves tie the series at one.

The Dodgers get a day-off tomorrow to lick their wounds, and the club will return to Dodger Stadium on Sunday night at 5:00 PM. Rookie Julio Teheran will battle Hyun-jin Ryu, in a pivotal game three.