In the top of the third inning, the Orioles’ eighth hitter drove a ball deep into the right field seats at Yankee Stadium for a 1-0 lead. The Yankees rallied back to tie things up in the bottom of the third. But now Baltimore’s ninth hitter has made some noise.
Manny Machado, a 20-year-old infield prospect who was promoted to the major leagues in early August, drove a Hiroki Kuroda slider over the fence in left field in the top of the fifth, lifting the Orioles back on top of the Yankees 2-1 in Game 3 of this ALDS.
Machado batted just .262 with a .294 OBP in 202 plate appearances this summer, but he tallied seven dingers, eight doubles and three triples for a respectable .445 slugging percentage. And now his power has launched him into an elite historical class. Before tonight, only Mickey Mantle, Miguel Cabrera and Andruw Jones had hit postseason home runs before age 21.
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.