Mike Foltynewicz was an ace in a hole
Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu is embraced by teammate Clayton Kershaw after pitching seven shutout innings.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Max Muncy celebrates with Yasiel Puig after homering in the second inningin off Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Joc Pederson, center, celebrates with Justin Turner, right, and Max Muncy who brought them home on a three-run homer in the second inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers Max Muncy hits a three-run home run against the Braves in the 2nd inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dejected Atlanta Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. drop his batting gear at home plate after striking out in the 8th inning.(Gina Ferazzi / Gina Ferazzi)
Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado (8) high-fives Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig after the Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 6-0.(Gina Ferazzi / Gina Ferazzi)
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts congratulates pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu after the starter held the Braves scoreless through seven innings.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers Joc Pederson appears to have something caught in his throat as he walk out of the batters box against the Braves in the 7th inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers Kiki Hernandez hits a solo home run against the Braves in the 6th inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Teammates congratulate Dodgers second baseman Kike Hernandez after hitting a sixth inning solo homer.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers Yasiel Puig slams his bat to the ground after popping-up against the Braves in the 6th inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu lightly pumps his fist after inducing the last out in the sixth inning.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers second baseman Enrique Hernandeztags out Atlanta Braves left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. who was attempting to steal in the sixth inning.(Gina Ferazzi / Gina Ferazzi)
Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado bobbles the ball for an error off the bat of Braves Ronald Acuna Jr. in the 6th inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman tumbles into the front row in pursuit of a fourth inning foul ball hit by Dodgers oufielder Joc Pederson.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers left fielder Joc Pederson watches as the ball clears the outfield wall for a solo homer in the first inning.(Gina Ferazzi / Gina Ferazzi)
Dodgers Joc Pederson hits a solo home run against the Braves in the 1st inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte can’t catch a home run ball hit by Dodgers Joc Pederson in the 1st inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodegers Joc Pederson celebrates his solo home run in front of Braves pitcher Mike Foltynewicz in the 1st inning.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Yasiel Puig sticks his tongue out in between pitches during a first inning at bat.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu delivers a pitch in the first inning.(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu warms up in the outfield before the start of game one.(Gina Ferazzi / Gina Ferazzi)
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu warms up in the outfield before the start of the game.(Gina Ferazzi / Gina Ferazzi)
The Atlanta Braves’ decision to start Mike Foltynewicz in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Thursday met little resistance.
Foltynewicz had established himself as the Braves’ ace. After years of waiting for him to take up the mantle, the Braves watched the 26-year-old put together an All-Star first half and finish the season tied for fifth in the NL in ERA. Foltynewicz made a strong enough statement that when manager Brian Snitker announced the news Tuesday he felt emboldened, calling Foltynewicz the Braves’ “legit first guy.”
If Foltynewicz resembled anything close to “legit” in his first playoff appearance, the moment came on one pitch in the Braves’ 6-0 loss to the Dodgers.
Foltynewicz blew a 97-mph fastball past the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig to end a first-inning debacle in which he threw 28 pitches. Puig spun around in disgust, clutching the ends of his bat as though he wanted to snap it in half. Foltynewicz hopped off the mound in glee. He’d marooned three Dodgers and given up only one run.
But Foltynewicz could not carry the momentum. Despite getting two quick outs in the second inning, he pitched without ease on the Dodger Stadium mound.
“Just wasn’t my night,” Foltynewicz said.
Foltynewicz hit Joc Pederson with a two-strike slider, lost Justin Turner to a walk on a 97-mph fastball and watched the belt-high heater he mistakenly threw Max Muncy sail over the right-field fence for a three-run homer.
“I’ve been thinking about that all night,” Foltynewicz said.
Earlier, Pederson had slammed Foltynewicz’s third pitch of the game, a 98-mph fastball that leaked outside the zone but caught just enough of the plate, for his first leadoff home run of the postseason. Turner roped a double into the left-field corner on the next pitch. Muncy drew a walk.
All this before Foltynewicz could strike out Manny Machado and Yasmani Grandal to regain control in the first.
“I mean, we’re lucky he got out of the first inning,” Snitker said.
When it seemed Snitker would leave Foltynewicz in for a third inning — Foltynewicz batted for himself in the bottom of the second because of the limited options on the Braves’ bench — Sean Newcomb trotted out of the Braves’ bullpen for the bottom of the third inning. Newcomb, who came within one strike of no-hitting the Machado-less Dodgers on July 29, stymied the Dodgers in two innings of work. He yielded one hit. Fellow left-hander Max Fried also kept the Dodgers under wraps, relinquishing one single in 11/3 innings.
But the Braves couldn’t climb out of the hole Foltynewicz dug them.
“I think they’ll come back with a little more sense of what we’re in for tomorrow,” Snitker said.
Culberson returns … again
Former Dodgers infielder Charlie Culberson inspired a smattering of applause during the pregame introductions, but otherwise Dodgers fans left their old postseason hero undisturbed.
Dodgers player Enrique Hernández talks about playing every day and how it feels to be up one game in the NLDS.
Like most in Atlanta’s lineup, Culberson was a nonfactor forthe Braves in the series opener. He started a double play on a Machado ground ball in the fifthinning but otherwise got little work.
And he barely made an impact offensively. He had one of the four hits yielded by Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, but was stranded at first base in the fifth inning. He finished one for three, deprived of a fourth turn at the plate by the Braves’ inability to string more than two hits together.
Culberson, starting at shortstop for the injured Dansby Swanson, will get another chance to deliver a meaningful effort Friday.
Why Madson was kept over Stripling?
In the final deliberations over the Dodgers’ first-round roster, the most difficult decision was leaving All-Star pitcher Ross Stripling off the 25-man unit, Roberts said. The debate came down to Stripling against right-handed reliever Dylan Floro, who had a 1.63 earned-run average in 29 appearances with the Dodgers.
Stripling excelled as a starting pitcher in the first half but struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness after the break. Opposing hitters posted a .966 OPS against him in the second half.
The team also included Ryan Madson in their NLDS bullpen, despite his 6.48 ERA in nine outings with the Dodgers. Roberts noted Madson’s ability to generate strikeouts. He fanned 13 of the 36 batters he faced in his brief time as a Dodger.
“We liked Madson’s ability to miss bats, and also to match up against lefties and righties,” Roberts said.
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