Looking to earn a sweep over the Atlanta Braves in the National League Division Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers fell just short, losing 6-5 at SunTrust Park.
The Dodgers dug themselves an early hole as the Braves hung a five-spot on Walker Buehler in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead. All the runs were scored with two outs in the inning.
With two runners already on second and third base, the Dodgers decided to intentionally walk Charlie Culberson to load the bases for pitcher Sean Newcomb. Buehler lost his control from there, walking Newcomb on four pitches and then falling behind in the count to Ronald Acuña Jr. before giving up a grand slam.
Making your first postseason start on the road in a hostile environment is not an easy thing for a rookie to do, but Buehler did not use that as an excuse for the poor second inning, via SportsNet LA:
“It’s just one of those things and I know it’s gonna be said how it’s the first playoff game and blah blah blah, but I made eight or 10 bad pitches in a sequence and this is a playoff team that we’re facing and they’re good. So if you make that many mistakes in a row, somebody is going to take advantage and Acuña did that, but you live and you learn and we’ll move on.”
Buehler was proud of himself for being able to get back on track and keeping his team in the game but vowed that he will use this as a learning experience for future postseason starts:
“It is what it is. This is a sport and it’s tough sometimes,” Buehler said. “Sometimes you just lose it. I’m proud of the way that I found the zone again after that, moving forward. But there’s no excuse for the second inning and as I said, we’ll learn from it.”
Buehler settled in after that second inning, retiring the final 10 batters he faced to get through five innings. In the meantime, the Dodgers offense was able to put five runs on the board to tie the game before Alex Wood game up a home run to Freddie Freeman in the sixth.
The Dodgers have relied on Buehler heavily all season, and one poor outing is not going to change that. If this team wants to return to and win the World Series, then they will need their young star to get back on track in future starts, which he seems poised to do.
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