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Game 3 Features a Rookie Duel Between the Dodgers and Braves

Ryu Hyun-Jin speaking at a press conference at Dodger Stadium announcing his signing. (LA Dodgers/Jon SooHoo, used with permission)
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After the Dodgers split the first two games in Atlanta, both teams come to Los Angeles for Game 3 of the NL Divisional Series featuring rookie pitchers.

"We're pumped to come back home," Adrian Gonzalez siad. "We're in a good spot."

The spot will see Ryu Hyun-Jin start for the Dodgers and Julio Teheran start for the Braves. Neither manager said they would put on kid gloves on either pitcher.

"He's been pitching big all year long," Don Mattingly said about Ryu. "Every time we've had a big game and a big situation for him it seemed like a lot of tension, he's pitched well."

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Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is taking the same approach with Teheran. "He's going to go out, and he's going to compete like he always has," he said. "If he gets his fastball command and throws the secondary pitches, he's going to be okay."

Concerning news about Ryu emerged from Atlanta when he was observed tossing a bullpen session under the watchful eyes of Mattingly, Dr. Neal ElAttrache and medical department guru Stan Conte. Considering Ryu with a few exceptions never tossed a bullpen session and was seen wearing an arm sleeve, the chatter got started.

"Typically when I rest longer than normal, I always squeeze in a bullpen in there just to make sure my body is responding the way I want it to," Ryu said. So nothing to worry about? "Actually I feel good now."

When asked, Mattingly said that Conte normally watches Ryu carefully so it was nothing out of the ordinary. Of Dr. ElAttrache, "I think Neal just loves being in the bullpen down there in Atlanta. It's nice. It's cool there."

From what I can surmise, they're trying to say that Ryu is good to go for tomorrow night's Game 3, and that all of this hubbub was much ado about nothing. Let's just remember how this team's record on talking about injuries is and as always take it with a huge grain of salt.

For Hanley Ramirez after 1,095 games and 4,790 plate appearances spread out over nine seasons, he has finally made it into the postseason. After hitting an RBI double in Game 1 to go 1-for-5, he came back in Game 2 with two doubles and a two-run homer.

"I keep everything the same," Ramirez said. "Nothing really emotional or anything like that. We're still playing the same game. You've just got to get the little things done."

The bottom of the seventh inning was an interesting one for Mattingly and the Dodgers. With the Braves leading 2-1 two outs and first base open, left-hand hitter Jose Constanza was on the on-deck circle. Right-handed pitcher Chris Withrow was pitching, and Mattingly decided to bring in the lefty Paco Rodriguez.

Fredi Gonzalez countered by sending in Reed Johnson to pinch hit with the lefty leadoff hitter Jason Heyward. Heyward was batting .264 against lefty pitchers this season as opposed to .250 against righties.

The decision: Mattingly decided to intentionally walk Johnson to get to Heyward.

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So even if you didn't know the statistic I gave above, no matter if, when going by the book, your book is outdated, you never ever ever ever ever have a relief pitcher intentionally walk the first batter he faces. It's worse than the thoughtless sacrifice bunt. It makes it harder for them to throw a strike.

Well what do you know? Rodriguez fell behind Heyward 2-0, threw a strike then gave up a single to Heyward that plated two runs. Braves lead 4-1.

Sayeth Mattingly: "I think the situation in the game last night, no matter which way I go, it could be questioned. If I leave Withrow in to pitch and give up a hit there, I'm going to question myself and I'm going to be like why didn't I use Paco? So it's one of those things that if move works, if the match-up works, it's good. If it doesn't, it's bad. So there is really nothing other than it not going the way I want it, that I would change."

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