My wife and I were watching extra innings last night — believe it or not, us watching baseball together is a rare occurrence — and she had one word for Manny Machado: “smug.”
And while I’m not going to weigh in on whether the possible future Chicago White Sox third baseman is a jackass (Machado’s cheap shot on first baseman Jesus Aguilar on a no-brainer ground out in extra innings sure was a jackass move), there’s something about the guy that gets us talking about his 10th inning boner as much or more than his 13th inning heroics.
And in the case of Game 4, that’s a shame. Because Machado, defying his “no hustle” reputation, essentially stole second with a great read of a slightly-wild pitch from Junior Guerra, then scampered home with the winning run on Cody Bellinger’s single, making a fabulous plate-touch slide to even the series 2-2.
I still can’t figure out why, with two outs and left-handed (though slumping) Bellinger at the plate, Brewers manager Craig Counsell didn’t walk Bellinger to set up a force play, with even worse-slumping Yasmani Grandal on deck.
Guerra, the brief ex-Chicago White Sox, pitched phenomenally, and even Bellinger’s single barely got past Aguilar and almost wasn’t enough to score Machado.
Now, some 14 hours since the Gatorade baths of last night’s thriller, the two clubs are lacing it up again, with a massive momentum shift to L.A. Beyond the buzz of a win that saved the Dodgers from going down 3-1 in the series, the club sends ace Clayton Kershaw to the bump.
Kershaw was knocked around by the Brewers in Game 1 in Milwaukee, but the odds of Kershaw being as bad and Brewers (short-rest) starter Wade Miley being as good are slim. (Of course, Milwaukee reliever Brandon Woodruff (HR vs. Kershaw in Game 1) might be taking some extra reps in the batting cage today.)
Good news for Milwaukee? L.A.’s ballyhooed offense still isn’t hitting at all. And Miley has started 18 games for the Brewers this season, and hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any, with two scoreless starts so far in the playoffs.