The Dodgers, who entered NLCS Game 3 down 2-0 in the series against the Braves, took an early lead on Tuesday, and co-ace Walker Buehler had been cruising after getting out of a tight spot in the first. In the fourth inning, however, things came unraveled for the Dodgers, and the Braves enjoyed what could have been a fatal blow to the Dodgers' chances of again advancing to the Fall Classic. Despite a nightmare fourth inning, the Dodgers struck back with a big frame of their own later in the game for a 6-5 win (more on that here). But let's run through the series of events that saw Buehler exit early.
Buehler began that top of the fourth by allowing Freddie Freeman's second opposite-field single of the day. Then he retired Ozzie Albies on a fly-out for the first out. That brought Austin Riley to the plate.
Riley sent a well-struck but playable ball to Dodgers centerfielder Gavin Lux, who, it should be noted, is playing out of position in center and battling the sun. Lux missed the catch (watch the play here), and the Braves had runners on second and third with one out. Somehow, though, the official scorer called it a double and not an error on Lux.
Buehler regrouped and got ahead 0-2 on Joc Pederson with runners on second and third and one out. Then came what looked like strike three:
This 0-2 pitch to Joc Pederson was called a ball. He singled a few pitches later to drive in a run. pic.twitter.com/ztKEMsBN7O— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 19, 2021
That 0-2 cutter by Buehler certainly appeared to catch the lower inside corner. Here's another look at the pitch location (it's the green circle with "3" on it):
That's a strike, per two algorithms, but plate ump Jerry Meals deemed it a ball. Two pitches later, Pederson ripped an RBI single to right. Then Adam Duvall lined a game-tying single to left. Then came a walk and another single. Buehler then struck out opposing pitcher, Charlie Morton, for the second out of the frame. Then came this:
Walker Buehler has only issued 2 bases-loaded walks in his career. Both have come in the postseason against the Braves.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) October 19, 2021
Tonight vs. Eddie Rosario
2018 NLDS vs. Sean Newcomb
Yes, Buehler issued a bases-loaded walk to Eddie Rosario, which gave the Braves a 4-2 lead. That ensured the Braves would bat around, and that ensured Buehler's day was done. Reliever Alex Vesia was able to retire Freeman on a line-out, but by then the script had been flipped.
Buehler shouldered the blame for the inning after the game. "That inning is on me, not on [Lux], not on the umpire, not on anything like that," he told reporters. Here's his full response:
Walker Buehler was asked about the Gavin Lux error— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) October 20, 2021
His response is worth a listen pic.twitter.com/iPbTBoKlYP