Xander Bogaerts polished off the Red Sox’ 10-inning, 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays in dazzling fashion on Saturday, crushing a Chris Rowley fastball to dead center field for a walk-off grand slam:
It wasn’t exactly Bogaerts’ first slam of the year — he checked that box twice in April alone — but it marked the club’s first walk-off grand slam since Rico Brogna did it against the Devil Rays in August 2000. In fact, this has been a remarkably grand slam-filled season for the Red Sox so far; according to ESPN Stats & Info, they’ve racked up nine slams in the first four months of the season, just two shy of the all-time record they established in 2005.
The walk-off homer capped a wild game for the Red Sox, one in which they took an early lead with J.D. Martinez‘s league-leading 29th home run, lost Eduardo Rodriguez to a right ankle sprain, and sent the game to extras with a last-minute RBI double from Jackie Bradley in the ninth. They’ve now taken the lead in the four-game series, 2-1, and will go for the win on Sunday afternoon when southpaw Brian Johnson takes on Blue Jays’ right-hander Marcus Stroman at 1:05 PM EDT.
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.