ATLANTA -- The assumption was Braves center fielder Jason Heyward made a mental mistake Thursday night, when he threw home in an attempt to cut down speedy Yasiel Puig at the plate, rather than hitting the cut-off man.
Not only did Puig score easily ahead of the throw that sailed high and up the first base line, but Juan Uribe advanced to second base on the play. That put left fielder Evan Gattis in position to have to make a more aggressive play on the ensuing A.J. Ellis liner to left field. Gattis made a diving attempt at it and missed, for a run-scoring double and a 2-0 Dodgers lead.
But after the game, Heyward said his mistake was physical, not mental. He stuck by his decision to throw home but wanted the throw lower, so it would give the cut-off man the option to make a play on it.
"I would have liked to get that one down so at least we have a chance to cut it off," Heyward said.
And as far as the throw home? "I'm OK with that," Heyward said. "I think everybody is." Heyward said with runs at such a premium against Clayton Kershaw it was worth the risk of throwing home. It would also plant a seed into the third base coach's mind that the Braves' outfielders are going to be aggressive on their throws.
But as a baserunner, he knows, it's much easier to run on a ball in the air.
"That's the name of the game when you run the bases," Heyward said. "You see the ball up, you go. If you see it down, you've got to watch it and more than likely you're staying." Gattis' rough night Gattis' first postseason game was memorable for all the wrong reasons -- most of them having to do with the second inning.
First, he made a diving attempt at an A.J. Ellis liner and missed, turning a play that most left fielders make into an RBI double. Gattis is naturally a catcher, who played a majority of his games behind the plate coming up through the minor leagues.
The rookie caught 42 games during the regular season for the Braves and played 48 games in left field. He was typically defended for in late innings with a lead.
"It's a play I didn't make," said Gattis, who said he wouldn't have played Ellis' ball as aggressively if the runner at been at first base instead of in scoring position.
Then in the bottom of the second inning he made a costly mistake on the base paths as well. After blooping a single into right field for the first hit off Clayton Kershaw, Gattis got doubled-off first base on a Chris Johnson fly ball to right field to end the inning.
Gattis said afterward he got deked by the right fielder Puig, or actually, Gattis thought Puig was trying to deke him.
"A lot of outfielders just throw their glove up there like they're going to catch it when they're not," Gattis said. "And I didn't think he was, so I took a hard step toward second and it was just a mistake."
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