Whicker: Freddie Freeman’s advice is ignored, but his power is celebrated in Braves’ Game 3 win

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire ATLANTA — Ronald Acuña Jr. said he didn’t know Mickey Mantle from Larry Mantle, or Mickey Rourke.“I wasn’t born then,” he said.In fact, Mantle died two years before Acuña was born and, during his raucous life, surely had wine bottles that were older.But you don’t have to know history to make it. Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Acuña is 20, rangy and strong and born to play in four-deck stadiums, placed amid restaurants and hotels in what used to be an expanse of Georgia scrub pines.SunTrust Park, two years old, played host to its first playoff game Sunday night. Thanks to Acuña and Freddie Freeman, it will play host to its second on Monday.Acuña walloped a grand slam off Walker Buehler in the second inning to give Atlanta a 5-0 lead over the Dodgers. He became the youngest to do that in any playoff game, dislodging Mantle, who had hit a grand slam in Game 4 of the 1953 World Series off the Dodgers’ Russ Meyer.After L.A. scrambled back to tie it on its usual formula of walks and home runs, Freeman sent Alex Wood’s first pitch nearly to the windows of the Chop House restaurant in right field.That 6-5 lead held up throughout, with Arodys Vizcaino giving the Dodgers two baserunners in the ninth and then striking out the side.center_img Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season Rich Hill has been groomed for the Game 4 start all along. The Braves chose Mike Foltynewicz, who had been their best starter but lasted 50 pitches and two innings in Game 1.“That was just a workout,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.Snitker used Newcomb to relieve Foltynewicz in that game, instead of having him start on a normal schedule. That seemed odd, since Newcomb came within a strike of pitching a no-hitter against the Dodgers here on July 29. He threw double-play balls in the first two innings, but when he walked two Dodgers in the third, he was gone.“Just get us off the ground,” Snitker told Newcomb beforehand.Now the Dodgers are grounded until Tuesday. It wasn’t their plan to complicate this, but in 2018 it is their custom.The Braves’ Freddie Freeman celebrates as he begins rounding the bases after hitting a go-ahead solo home run during the sixth inning of Game 3 of the NLDS against the Dodgers on Sunday night in Atlanta. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start The Dodgers left men on second and third base in the sixth, a man on second in the eighth, and men on second and third in the ninth. Chris Taylor and Max Muncy homered to get them back to even, but they couldn’t get the simplest base hit when the Braves were teetering.That’s why they’re now 22-23 in one-run games, and why they have to win another one before they go to Milwaukee to begin the National League Championship Series.After the self-explanatory games in Dodger Stadium, this one was garish and quirky, kind of like the ballpark.The Braves’ first RBI of the series came (A) on a bases-loaded walk (B) by Buehler (C) to starting pitcher Sean Newcomb, the former Angels first-round pick who was, and still is, 3 for 72 as a major-league hitter.“We did not want him to swing,” Freeman said. “Actually when it got to 3-and-0 I was in the dugout yelling, ‘Turn him loose!’ Fortunately, nobody heard me.’”That followed an intentional walk to Charlie Culberson and a leadoff walk to Nick Markakis, but it was like Buehler had been invaded by malware. There was no sign that he would do this, not when he squelched the Braves on five pitches in the first inning.“I think when he walked the pitcher on four, he lost his focus,” Manager Dave Roberts said.With umpire Gary Cederstrom turning the strike zone into a tight circle with no corners, Buehler went to 3-and-0 on Acuña.The next pitch was called a strike, although Acuña had already taken a step to first. The next one was 98 mph coming in and landed rapidly into the left-field bleachers, and a crowd that had been given no reason to believe was now engaged.“He’s done things like that all year but it’s still amazing,” Freeman said. “I don’t think we needed or wanted anyone else in that situation.”Acuña only played 111 games but hit 26 home runs with 64 runs batted in.Then Buehler rebooted and was fine. “I liked the way he was able to recalibrate and give us five innings,” Roberts said. The Braves went 0 for 10 against him the rest of the night and struck out four times.Alex Wood came into a 5-5 game and threw a slider to Freeman that did not slide until it hit the seats. It was the 33rd postseason at-bat for the first baseman from El Modena High and his first home run.“We’re not the biggest home run team,” Freeman said. “We’re a small-ball team for the most part. But the Dodgers have been doing it to us, so it was good to do it to them.”Related Articleslast_img

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