ATLANTA, Ga. — Joc Pederson credits his postseason success to “not making any moment bigger than it needs to be.”
With another jolt, Pederson put the Atlanta Braves on the verge of advancing in the playoffs.
Pederson kept enhancing his “Joctober” nickname with a three-run, pinch-hit homer and the Braves shut down Milwaukee once again, beating the Brewers 3-0 on Monday to take a 2-1 edge in the NL Division Series.
“It was pretty special,” Pederson said of the fifth-inning drive. “To come up big in a moment like that was pretty cool.”
In a matchup dominated by pitching, Ian Anderson and the Braves bullpen combined on a five-hitter and won by a 3-0 score for the second straight game.
Boosted by shortstop Dansby Swanson’s athletic defense, Atlanta can try to reach its second straight NL Championship Series when it hosts Game 4 on Tuesday.
Pederson’s homer was his second of the series, both as a pinch-hitter against Adrian Houser. Pederson singled as a pinch-hitter in his only other at-bat in this series, and has driven in four of Atlanta’s seven runs.
Pederson has hit 11 postseason home runs overall and helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series last year with his longballs. He then signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs in the winter and was traded to Atlanta in July.
“He’s been in the big moment, the big stage, and he’s performed and guys appreciate that,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
Since winning the opening game of the series, the NL Central champion Brewers have not scored in 19 consecutive innings. They were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position in this loss.
Asked about the poorly timed offensive slump, manager Craig Counsell said, “We’re in it. I thought we swung the bats better today. … We’ve got to catch a break, frankly.”
Anderson was dominant for the NL East champion Braves, allowing three hits over five innings with no walks and six strikeouts. Will Smith, the fourth Braves reliever, pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the series.
Milwaukee starter Freddy Peralta pitched four scoreless innings and was pulled for a pinch-hitter when the Brewers threatened in the fifth.
Houser gave up singles to Travis d’Arnaud and Swanson to open the fifth. Pederson, hitting for Anderson, pulled a high, inside fastball deep into the right-field seats for a 3-0 lead.
“It didn’t look like a bad pitch to me, but give him credit,” Counsell said.
Asked how he pulled the high pitch for the homer, Pederson shrugged and said, “I guess I’m a pretty good player, I don’t know. I knocked it out of the yard.”
Adam Duvall made a crucial baserunning mistake when he tried to advance from first to second as Austin Riley tried to score from third on d’Arnaud’s flyball in the second. Left fielder Christian Yelich nailed Duvall for the third out before Riley crossed the plate, costing Atlanta a run.
The Brewers hit only .183 in the first two games of the series, including a 3-0 loss in Game 2. Counsell made one lineup change, inserting Luis Urías at third base for Eduardo Escobar.
The Brewers couldn’t score in the fifth after putting runners on second and third with no outs. Urías, hit by a pitch, moved to third on a double by Omar Narváez.
Anderson escaped when Lorenzo Cain’s sharp grounder was stopped by a diving Swanson, who held the baserunners before throwing to first. Urías was caught in a rundown on pinch-hitter Daniel Vogelbach’s grounder to third base, and Kolten Wong lined out to Freddie Freeman at first base to end the inning.
Swanson turned an acrobatic double play to end the eighth after Luke Jackson walked Jace Peterson and gave up a one-out single to Willy Adames.
PEARLS OF WISDOM
Pederson still wore the pearl necklace in his postgame news conference that became part of his uniform late this season. He said the pearls are real and were ordered from his jeweler.
“I think I just saw the pearls and thought that looked cool,” he said, adding the necklace “kind of caught my eye.”
Brewers CF Cain, running at full speed, crashed into the wire fence as he tried to catch Duvall’s drive in the fourth. Cain held the ball in his glove before hitting the ground and losing control. Cain stayed down as Duvall raced to third with the two-out triple.
Cain remained in the game after a visit from Counsell and a trainer. Peralta struck out Eddie Rosario to end the inning.
“He was fortunate he just jammed his shoulder,” Counsell said. “It’s probably going to be a little sore tomorrow, but I’m optimistic.”
Snitker said he visited with Hall of Fame former manager Bobby Cox on Sunday. Cox, 80, has made only infrequent visits to Truist Park since suffering a stroke in 2019.
“He’s excited,” Snitker said. “He’s excited and watching all the games.”
Snitker said Cox is “hanging in there” and said his visit “was good. He was all excited and jacked up about everything, that’s for sure.”
E-5 AS A FAN
Braves Hall of Fame third baseman Chipper Jones probably didn’t expect to have a ball come his way when he settled into his box seat near the Atlanta dugout.
Jones should have brought his glove.
The TV cameras caught the action when Jones dropped a pop foul hit by Urías in the second inning.
Following the game, Snitker and Counsell would not announce starting pitchers for Game 4 on Tuesday at 5:07 p.m. Snitker said “everybody is in play” including Game 1 starter Charlie Morton, who would be pitching on short rest. A possible option for the Brewers is LHP Eric Lauer. Counsell said his Game 1 starter, Corbin Burnes, would not be his choice.
Miami football 2022 offensive signees closest current roster ranking comparison
The Miami football program only signed three offensive players during the early signing period last month. Quarterback Jacurri Brown, tight end Jaleel Skinner and wide receiver Isaiah Horton are the only offensive players in the Miami 2022 Class. Miami lost only four starters on offense from the 2021 team.
The Hurricanes have to replace offensive linemen Navaughn Donaldson and Jarrid Williams and wide receivers Mike Harley and Charleston Rambo. Miami was able to flip Skinner from Alabama. Skinner is one of three 2022 Miami signees ranked in the top 100, but the only one on offense.
Each of the three Miami signees on offense has a comparable player at their position on the roster with where they were ranked when they signed. Skinner is the most talented TE on the Miami roster. The third-ranked TE in the Class of 2022, Skinner received a grade of 0.9631. Miami has three top 10 TEs on its roster.
Elijah Arroyo signed with Miami in the Class of 2021 as the seventh-ranked TE with a grade of 0.9170. Miami starting TE Will Mallory signed with Miami in the Class of 2018. Mallory was the eighth-ranked TE in 2018 with a grade of 0.9183. Whoever Miami hires as the new offensive coordinator will likely play all three TEs.
Brown is the 18th ranked QB in the Class of 2022 and is rated 0.9052. Jake Garcia who signed with Miami in 2021 was the eighth-ranked QB in his class and received a rating of 0.9761 from 247 Sports. Tyler Van Dyke who signed with Miami in 2020 was the seventh-ranked pro-style QB in 2020 and graded out at 0.9173.
Horton is the second lowest-ranked player in the Miami 2022 class, the 50th ranked WR and received a grade of 0.8948. The grade for Horton is nearly identical to Harley who had a 0.8939 grade and was the 41st ranked WR in the Class of 2017. Current Miami WRs Brashard Smith and Daz Worsham are the closest ranked to Horton.
Worsham was the 81st ranked WR and graded 0.8783 when he signed with Miami in the Class of 2020. Smith was the 36th ranked WR in the Class of 2021 and graded 0.9157. Worsham will have a difficult challenge earning playing time as an outside WR in 2022. Smith is the likely second-team WR behind Xavier Restrepo.
The hiring of Mario Cristobal as head coach is expected to upgrade the talent on the Miami football roster as a relentless recruiter. Cristobal helped Miami add top 100 signees Skinner and defensive ends Nyjalik Kelly and Cyrus Moss since he was hired last month. Miami is likely to add more players on National Signing Day next month.
Jimmy Butler’s agent subtly rips NBA for length of Nikola Jokic’s suspension given how long Markieff Morris has been out
Some people within and around the Heat organization are apparently still upset over the incident, particularly with how Jokic was able to get away with a relatively light penalty.
Bernie Lee, who is Jimmy Butler’s agent, recently took to Twitter and seemingly took a shot at the league.
He then missed the next 30 games and the guy who purposely hurt him missed 1. https://t.co/VyBXs2VvBO
— Bernard Lee (@BernieoLee) January 23, 2022
The NBA is reportedly in the midst of deciding what disciplinary action to hand out to Grayson Allen of the Milwaukee Bucks. Allen recently committed a flagrant foul on an airborne Alex Caruso, causing the Chicago Bulls guard to fall hard and sustain a fractured wrist.
Lee responded to a Bulls insider who was speculating on Twitter about the penalty that Allen might receive based on league precedent, which includes the way the league handled the situation between Morris and Jokic.
This is Morris’ first season playing for Miami. He appeared in 10 games before going on the shelf and averaged 7.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per contest.
The Heat have done well during his time away from action. They currently hold the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-17. However, Miami could have certainly used his help at certain points during his absence, especially when the team saw a number of its players go down with injury or COVID-19 issues.
Miami will look to get back on the winning track on Sunday. A matchup awaits against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Florida Panthers Pregame: Matt Kiersted making the most of latest opportunity
When the Florida Panthers need reinforcements on the blueline, Matt Kiersted has usually been the first player they have called upon.
He has yet to let them down.
“Whenever they tell me down in Charlotte that I’m going to get called up, I kind of start mentally preparing myself,” Kiersted said.
“A lot of it is mental, like flying and playing the same day and little things like that, so the more I can mentally get myself in the right head frame and ready to go, the better.”
Previously, Kiersted was one of four players to be called up from the Charlotte Checkers on Dec. 16 after playing on back-to-back nights already when seven Panthers players tested positive for Covid-19.
The result of that game for Kiersted was his first NHL goal and 21:11 of ice time in a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Fast forward to Jan. 20 and the Panthers needed to make yet another last-minute call-up.
Kiersted was that defenseman.
On Wednesday, Kiersted took a flight from Charlotte to Toronto as a precaution to stay ready to be a potential call-up, as Juolevi suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday’s loss to the Calgary Flames.
When that lower-body injury flared up enough to where Juolevi needed to be placed on IR on Thursday, Kiersted boarded a flight to Edmonton and got ready to play against the Oilers that night.
“It was different having that long of a flight the day of the game,” Kiersted said. “Whenever you get called up, you gotta be ready for whatever is thrown at you.
“It was a long travel day, but I was able to get to the hotel for a couple of hours and settle down and rest a little bit before the game.”
What was thrown at him was a four-hour flight prior to a matchup with one of the league’s best duos — Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.
That duo has a combined 113 points and ranks first and third on the points leaderboard respectively.
Despite the strenuous travel, Kiersted played 13:29 in a 6-0 win over the Oilers.
“He flew this morning and we threw him in,” Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said after the game.
“Really good for him. That’s a great experience and really shows his maturity level to be able to play a game like that after flying in from Toronto today. Really happy for him.”
Kiersted played a big role in Florida’s 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks the following night as well, logging just over 10 minutes of ice time and blocking three shots in a shootout win the Panthers had to grind it out for.
With Forsling still on Covid-19 protocol and Juolevi unable to be activated from IR until Jan. 27, Kiersted has more time to make the most of this opportunity when the Panthers take on the Seattle Kraken on Sunday.
“He’s taken the opportunity well and I think it’s not an easy thing to just jump right in there and play right away,” Panthers rookie Anton Lundell said.
“He’s been very good, he’s a good player, he’s hard to play against, he moves the puck well, and I’m very happy for him.”
Morning Skate Updates
- Sergei Bobrovsky will be the Panthers’ starting goaltender on Sunday against the Kraken.
- Sam Bennett is a game-time decision after suffering a lower-body injury, Joe Thornton would likely play if Bennett cannot go.
- Patric Hornqvist skated this morning, but is still day-to-day, he will not play.
- Frank Vatrano will slide into the lineup tonight for one of Maxim Mamin, Mason Marchment, or Owen Tippett.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT SEATTLE KRAKEN
- When: Sunday, 9 p.m.
- Where: Climate Pledge Arena; Seattle
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- NHL Betting Odds from BetUS: Florida favored (Money Line -250) — (Puck Line -1.5 -105) — Over/Under 6.5 (-105/-115)
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Seattle leads 1-0-0
- This season: Seattle 4, @Florida 1 (Nov. 22)
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