What a day for Brian McCann.
On an afternoon when neither the Braves nor the Astros seemed too enthused about scoring runs, McCann took the game into his own hands, hitting a solo shot with two out in the bottom of the ninth to send it into extra innings and then, a few minutes ago, hitting a two-run bomb in the bottom of the 11th to give the Braves a 3-1 win and mini-sweep of Houston in the two-game series. Best part, I neglected to add when this post first went up: he didn’t even start. Came in as a pinch hitter for that first dinger.
The homers were particularly satisfying given that Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had his players attempt something on the order of 125 bunts in this game. Indeed, Fredi is so enamored with giving the Braves two-out innings that I’m convinced that he grew up dreaming of hitting World Series-winning bunts when he was a kid.
Bunts make managers feel smart. Homers win ballgames. Brian McCann knows that, and today he showed why he’s the best hitting catcher in the game.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.