I apologize for the length of this post. There’s so much to absorb in the Red Sox’ victory over the Astros last night. Their 8-6 win in Houston gives them a 3-1 series lead and the ability to clinch on the road this evening.
In the bottom of the 1st inning, it looked as though Mookie Betts was about to make a spectacular, home run-robbing catch until a fan reached for the ball as Betts extended above the right field wall. Umpire Joe West called fan interference and a replay ruling upheld the call, denying Jose Altuve of the game-tying tater. I believe Cowboy Joe got the call correct. Despite the fact that Betts’ glove was clearly closing, he was touched by at least one fan, though it’s tough to say if the fan reached over the wall into the field of play.
Mookie Betts was about to rob José Altuve of a home run … until a fan's hand got in the way.
It was ruled an out on review. pic.twitter.com/NLzAnNJ1vj
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 18, 2018
Five of the Astros’ 11 hits last night were for extra bases, but they stranded 13 runners. Alex Bregman lined out with the bases loaded against Craig Kimbrel in the 9th inning, securing the first six-out save of the closer’s nine-year career. It was a highlight catch by Andrew Benintendi, saving the day for the Red Sox and Kimbrel, whose shaky outings look like an ongoing audition to pitch for the Cubs next season.
Andrew Benintendi called game!
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) October 18, 2018
Houston pitchers walked seven batters and hit three. They could not stop nine-hole hitter Jackie Bradley, Jr., whose nine RBI this series leaves him as the early front-runner for series MVP.
Justin Verlander, who is 6-1 with a 2.44 ERA in eight postseason appearances for the Astros, gets the start tonight. The Red Sox named David Price as their starter. Chris Sale is still unavailable as he recovers from a stomach illness.
In Los Angeles, the Dodgers needed a big-time performance from ace Clayton Kershaw to keep from falling behind 3-2 in the NLCS, heading back to Milwaukee. Kershaw delivered, relying on his devastating slider and curveball. He allowed just three hits in seven innings with nine punch-outs.
This game was not without a little controversy of its own. Brewers manager Craig Counsell started Wade Miley and lifted him after a five-pitch walk to Dodgers leadoff batter Cody Bellinger, a move that left announcer John Smoltz speechless.
It looked as if Counsell might have tried to bait the Dodgers into loading up their lineup with right-handed hitters to face the left-handed Miley. Roberts countered by sticking with his mostly left-handed lineup to prevent exploitation. “We were prepared for anything,” Roberts said.
Kershaw struggled early but escaped a 32-pitch 3rd inning with a bases loaded strikeout of Jesus Aguilar.
Los Angeles tied the game in the 5th inning on an Austin Barnes single, and Max Muncy hit a go-ahead single in the 6th inning for the defending NL champs. Kershaw held the lead, scoring an insurance run after walking in the 7th before exiting.
Game 6 will be played at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Friday evening. Miley gets the start for the Brewers while the Dodgers have Hyun-Jin Ryu slated to take the bump as LA tries to win the series.
Playoff News & Notes
- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says he isn’t completely satisfied with the recent MLB investigation concerning alleged violations by the Astros.
- Kate Upton ripped into Joe West and the entire umpiring crew for the fan interference call. She also had some advice for the Red Sox fans who took a few shots at her.
I feel the need to acknowledge & address the amount of people who have called me “princess”, “honey” or a terrible “girl” sports fan. Just because I have an opinion on the call doesn’t give you the right to be degrading & disrespectful because I’m a woman.
— Kate Upton (@KateUpton) October 18, 2018
- The Red Sox have pitched around Bregman this entire series, issuing him eight walks to go with one hit-by-pitch in the first three games. I want to like Bregman, but he just reminds me too much of Johnny Manzel. They could be mistaken for brothers, I’d bet.
- Never in 81 home games, until the Red Sox rolled to Houston this week, had an opponent scored eight or more runs in consecutive outings against the Astros. The Red Sox have an advantage — they may be uniquely qualified to combat that all-world staff.
- Bradley joined Nomar Garciaparra (1998) as the only Red Sox players to have at least three RBI in three consecutive postseason games.
- Kimbrel has struggled throughout the series, giving up runs in each appearance he has made.
Craig Kimbrel, what are you missing right now?
— Chris Mason (@ByChrisMason) October 18, 2018
- Kershaw retired the final 13 batters he faced. He was so good that he hit for himself in the bottom of the 7nth with a 3-1 lead. He’d thrown 98 pitches, but Dave Roberts was going to stick with him. Plans changed after the Dodgers scored two runs.
- The Dodgers haven’t been in back-to-back World Series since losing to the Yankees in 1977 and ’78. They were beaten by Houston in Game 7 last year.
- Miley is the second pitcher in postseason history to start a game and face one batter, according to Baseball Reference. Johnny Cueto also did so in Game 1 of the 2012 NLDS.
- When Miley takes the mound to start Game 6, he’ll become the sixth pitcher to ever start three games in a League Championship Series. He will be the first pitcher to start consecutive games in a postseason series since George Earnshaw of the Philadelphia A’s in the 1930 World Series. Earnshaw won both starts against the Cardinals that year.
- The Brewers lost back-to-back games for the first time since September 15,16 vs. the Pirates.
Cubs News & Notes
There’s one question simmering under the radar in Cubs circles when it comes to this winter: How will the team solve the shortstop conundrum?
With Joe Maddon entering the final season of the five-year contract he signed with the team in 2014, agent Alan Nero says that there is “no urgency on his client’s part to get a new extension signed.”
Jason McLeod, who is a leading candidate to take over as GM in San Francisco, compares favorably with Brian Sabean, and though not a radical reinvention candidate, he would seem to slide seamlessly into San Francisco’s current infrastructure.
Baseball News & Notes
Major League Baseball released an official statement on Wednesday addressing concerns of cheating by stating that the matter was raised to the league commissioner’s office by several teams before the season even began.
In court documents filed this week in a lawsuit following the 2015 death of a fan who fell from the upper deck at an Atlanta Braves game, Nolan Ryan says guard rails at the Texas Rangers’ stadium had to be raised “to protect our fans from themselves.”
USA Today offers a look at baseball’s biggest modern day on-field villains.
I can’t even…
Steve Pearce goes head over heels.
(he's okay.) pic.twitter.com/ZiCayuGTKM
— Cut4 (@Cut4) October 18, 2018
They Said It
- “[West] just said that it was fan interference on the field. And my argument was more about that the ball was leaving the yard, the trajectory was there. Jose paid kind of the ultimate price for something out of his control. I’m not sure if Mookie makes that catch. He’s a great athlete. But how it’s an assumed out, it’s unbelievable.” – AJ Hinch
- “Here’s the whole play. He hit the ball to right field. He jumped up to try to make a catch. The fan interfered with him over the playing field. That’s why I called spectator interference.” – Joe West
- “What would you do as a fan? I would do the same. Trying to catch a ball. I don’t have anything against him. He’s another Astro[s] fan who’s rooting for us. I appreciate he was trying to help me.” – Jose Altuve
- “To go back to Milwaukee up 3-2 as opposed to being down 3-2 is huge for us. It’s been a battle every single game we’ve played them so far and we don’t expect anything different when we go back.” – Clayton Kershaw
- “We’re in a good spot, man. We’re going back home, to me, in a position of strength.” – Craig Counsell
Thursday Walk Up Song
Don’t Get Me Wrong by The Pretenders. Seems appropriate.