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The Sports Report: Dodgers are one loss away from elimination

Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts expresses frustration after lining out.
Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts expresses frustration after lining out during the sixth inning in Game 4 of the NLCS on Thursday.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The pitching matchup, all eyes and computers agreed, was one of the biggest mismatches possible this deep into October.

On one side, the Dodgers had Kershaw, a future Hall of Famer, making his 28th career start in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. On the other, Bryse Wilson, a 22-year-old rookie with a career ERA approaching a touchdown, was making his playoff debut for the Atlanta Braves.

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The Dodgers’ superior pitching depth was supposed to shine for the second consecutive night. The Braves were supposed to wear a few rough hours and move on. Instead, Wilson dominated over six innings, Kershaw’s gas tank emptied in another forgettable postseason performance, and the Dodgers’ bullpen combusted in their 10-2 loss at a windy Globe Life Field on Thursday.

Suddenly, and unexpectedly, the Dodgers, owners of the regular season’s best record, are facing a 3-1 series deficit. They must win three games in three days to keep their World Series hopes alive. Game 5 is scheduled for Friday at 6:08 p.m. PDT.

“We’ve won three games in a row plenty of times during the regular season,” Dodgers designated hitter Edwin Ríos said. “We can do it again.”

Wilson was the third straight rookie to start for the Braves. They went with him because they didn’t have any other options and were prepared for a bullpen game. Wilson smashed those expectations.

A night after bludgeoning Kyle Wright, another right-handed rookie, and scoring a record 11 runs in the first inning, the Dodgers’ aggressiveness worked against them Thursday. Anderson, relying on a fastball in the mid-90s, threw just 74 pitches. He gave up one hit – a solo home run by Edwin Ríos – to become the third-youngest pitcher to log at least six innings and yield no more than one hit in a playoff game. Fours Braves relievers followed to allow one run over the final three innings.

“He did a nice job of working outside and inside part of the plate to LH and RH hitters,” Roberts said of Wilson, “and we couldn’t square him up consistently enough.”

————

Bill Plaschke: Dodgers’ October nightmare is once again staring them in the face

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Dylan Hernández: Clayton Kershaw doesn’t deserve all the blame for the Dodgers’ Game 4 woes

Clayton Kershaw’s friends crave for his success — and anguish in his struggles

Despite their money and analytics, Dodgers keep disappointing in playoffs

Photos: Dodgers lose to Atlanta Braves in Game 4 of NLCS

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Braves-Dodgers schedule
The Dodgers will be the home team for Games 1, 2, 6 and 7. All times are Pacific. All game at Arlington, Texas.

Game 1: Atlanta 5, Dodgers 1

Game 2: Atlanta 8, Dodgers 7

Game 3: Dodgers 15, Atlanta 3

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Game 4: Atlanta 10, Dodgers 2

Game 5: Tonight, 6 p.m., Dodgers (Dustin May) vs. Atlanta (TBD), FS1, AM 570

Game 6*: Saturday, 1:30 p.m., Atlanta (Max Fried) vs. Dodgers (Walker Buehler), FS1, AM 570

Game 7*: Sunday, 5:15 p.m., Atlanta (Ian Anderson) vs. Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin), Fox and FS1, AM 570

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*-If necessary

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CLIPPERS

Andrew Greif on the Clippers: Long before he joined a small number of Clippers officials for dinner during the first weekend of October, Tyronn Lue had earned the team’s respect.

Lue stood just 6 feet tall yet lasted 11 NBA seasons as a player and won a championship in 2001, alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. Thrown into a crucible experience as a first-time head coach with Cleveland in 2016 — promoted midseason while shouldering the championship expectations that come from coaching LeBron James — Lue emerged a champion.

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For the past year as an assistant to Doc Rivers, who was dismissed as the Clippers’ coach Sept. 28 after a second-round postseason exit that fell well short of the team’s championship goal, Lue had built relationships with Clippers players by amplifying the messages of Rivers, a friend and mentor to whom he was loyal, while trying to bridge gaps between the locker room and sideline when they appeared.

None of that, however, meant that the Clippers’ search to replace Rivers began with their minds made up to hand the job to Lue, multiple people involved in the search said.

Running the first coaching search of owner Steve Ballmer’s tenure ahead of a critical 2020-21 season, the Clippers promised candidates a deliberative approach and interviewed more than half a dozen people who ranged from would-be first-time head coaches to veterans of the profession. Known candidates included Denver assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Warriors assistant and former Lakers and Cavaliers coach Mike Brown and Clippers assistant Sam Cassell. The team was believed to hold interest in Jeff Van Gundy, the ABC commentator and former coach in New York and Houston.

Despite coaching searches ongoing in Houston and New Orleans, where Lue had interviewed with both, the team also stressed they would not rush their process.

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The day after Lue’s dinner meeting, he interviewed with a larger group of staffers at their Playa Vista practice facility. At that Saturday meeting, like the one before it, Lue left the team impressed with his tactical plans and ability as a communicator. With Cleveland, he famously challenged James to play better at halftime of Game 7. And he made clear that his decisions as the team’s leader would be viewed through the lens of whether it would help win a championship the Clippers have chased, without success, for 50 years.

“He’s not going to tolerate mediocrity if it cuts against winning,” said a person with knowledge of the search.

The search lasted nearly two more weeks, but Lue, one of the first to interview, would eventually become the Clippers’ first choice. He agreed Thursday on a five-year deal that lands the 43-year-old with a job that carries high stakes entering a season in which Ballmer and the Clippers again expect to contend for a title after landing All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last offseason and building the roster around them.

Lue’s coaching staff is expected to include Chauncey Billups, the former All-Star point guard who served last season as the team’s television analyst, and Larry Drew, a former head coach in Atlanta, Milwaukee and Cleveland, where he was part of Lue’s staff, according to multiple people with knowledge of Lue’s plans.

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MLB PLAYOFFS

All times Pacific
AL Championship Series
Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays
all games at San Diego
Tampa Bay is home team in Games 1, 2, 6 and 7

Game 1: Tampa Bay 2, Houston 1
Game 2: Tampa Bay 4, Houston 2
Game 3: Tampa Bay 5, Houston 2
Game 4: Houston 4, Tampa Bay 3
Game 5: Houston 4, Tampa Bay 3
Game 6: Friday, 3 p.m., TBS
Game 7*: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. or 4 p.m., TBS

*-if necessary

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

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Dodgers vs. Atlanta, 6 p.m., FS1, AM 570

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1932 — After a 0-0 tie earlier in the season, the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 2-0.

1964 — Babe Parilli of the Boston Patriots passes for 422 yards and four touchdowns in a 43-43 tie with the Oakland Raiders.

1968 — Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos give black power salutes during the medal ceremonies of the 200-meter race and are later banned for life from all Olympic competition by the IOC.

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1971 — Norm Ullman of the Toronto Maple Leafs records his 1,000th point in a 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers.

1976 — Vince Fusco kicks six field goals to give Duke an 18-18 tie with Clemson.

1976 — Tony Franklin of Texas A&M kicks two field goals over 60 yards for an NCAA record. The distances are 65 and 64 yards as the Aggies beat Baylor 24-0.

1977 — The Denver Broncos intercept seven passes off Ken Stabler of the Oakland Raiders in a 30-7 victory.

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1977 — The Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears 16-10 in overtime with the only successful fake field goal in NFL overtime.

1987 — Mike Tyson retains his undisputed heavyweight title with a seven-round knockout of Tyrell Biggs in Atlantic City, N.J.

1999 — Fourth-ranked Virginia Tech hangs a record-setting 62-0 loss on No. 16 Syracuse. It’s the worst shutout loss by a ranked team in the history of The Associated Press poll.

1999 — Mount Union beats Otterbein 44-20 for its 48th consecutive victory, surpassing Oklahoma’s 42-year-old all-division mark of 47 in a row.

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2003 — Aaron Boone hits a pennant-winning homer leading off the bottom of the 11th in New York’s 6-5 win over Boston in Game 7 of the ALCS.

2004 — Mount Union beats Marietta 57-0 for its 100th consecutive regular-season victory. The Purple Raiders’ last regular-season loss was on Oct. 15, 1994, at home against Baldwin-Wallace.

2011 — Danell Leyva becomes the first American male gymnast to win a gold medal at the World Championships since 2003. Leyva wins the parallel bars title to become the first gold medalist for the U.S. since Paul Hamm claimed the floor exercise and all-around titles in 2003.

2011 — Dan Wheldon, 33, dies in a fiery 15-car wreck at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when his car flew over another on Lap 13 and smashes into the wall just outside turn 2.

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2016 — Drew Brees passes for 465 yards and four touchdowns in New Orleans’ 41-38 victory over Carolina, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning for the most 400-yard games in the regular season with his 15th.

2016 — Eli Manning passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns in the New York Giants 27-23 victory over Baltimore. Manning is the eighth quarterback in history to have 300 career TD passes. The Giants’ victory over Baltimore is the 700th win in franchise history.

2016 — Tom Brady throws three touchdown passes and goes over 5,000 completions for his career while playing his first game in Foxborough since the end of his “Deflategate” suspension, leading New England past Cincinnati 35-17.

And finally

Dodgers win Game 5 of the 2017 NLCS. Watch it here.

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Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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