Dodgers vs. Braves: Walker Buehler’s start unravels in after Gavin Lux misplay, missed strike-three call

The Dodgers, down 2-0 in the NLCS against the Braves, took an early lead in Game 3 (live updates here), 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 may turn out to be critical turning point in the series. 

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: 

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: 

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. 

To recap, here’s how that four-run inning went for the Braves: 

  • Single
  • Fly out
  • “Double”
  • RBI single
  • RBI single
  • Walk
  • RBI single
  • Strikeout
  • RBI walk
  • Line out

Given what preceded those four runs on the board and given that this is in essence a must-win game for the reigning World Series champs, that’s a brutal turn of events. 

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