In the moment it seemed impossible that Mike Napoli would stay in the game to run the bases, let alone catch the final six (or as it turned out eight) innings, but his ugly looking ankle injury turned out to be less severe than it appeared.
X-rays taken immediately after the game were negative and Napoli told reporters that he expects to play in Game 7 tonight:
There’s one game left. We’ll get out there tomorrow and lay it on the line and hopefully the best things happen for us. I’m going to do whatever I can to stay in. We’re going to do some things tomorrow and try to get me back out there again.
“Some things” probably include a pain-killer or two, although it depends on what Napoli’s ankle looks like when he shows up at the ballpark this afternoon. Adrenaline no doubt helped him play through the pain last night, so it might actually be more difficult for him tonight.
Not only did Napoli go 2-for-3 with an RBI single in Game 6, he made a great play to pick off Matt Holliday from third base in the sixth inning. He’s just the third player in baseball history with 10 or more RBIs in one World Series and will enter Game 7 as the presumed MVP pick if the Rangers win.
Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.
With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.
The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.
Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.
It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.