LOS ANGELES — Cody Bellinger’s RBI single in the 13th inning gave Los Angeles a 2-1 win over Milwaukee late Tuesday night in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. The victory evened the series between the Dodgers and Brewers at two games apiece.
Here’s what we saw at Dodger Stadium:
‘Dirty play by a dirty player’
Social media erupted in the 10th inning as a routine play at first base became anything but. That was thanks to the Dodgers’ Manny Machado, who after grounding out to shortstop, appeared to kick Milwaukee’s Jesus Aguilar with his left foot intentionally as he stepped on first base. The two had words and both benches cleared before things got settled down.
In the 13th inning, after Machado reached base with a single, the two talked and appeared to have settled the beef.
“We talked and we’re good,” Aguilar said afterwards. “He [apologized]. That’s why I said we’re good.”
Aguilar, though, was one of the few Brewers that was actually good with what happened. Despite only pinch hitting in the ninth inning, infielder Travis Shaw stood in the clubhouse seemingly looking for someone in the media to ask him to talk to about the incident.
“Dirty play. You saw the replay. He can say all he wants he didn’t mean to do it. It’s pretty obvious he meant to do it,” Shaw said. “He’s shown it multiple times throughout his career. It’s a dirty play. It was not by mistake.”
Machado denied doing it intentionally, telling reporters that Aguilar’s foot was on the bag and he was trying to get over him.
“If that’s dirty, that’s dirty,” Machado said, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
If this were a first offense for Machado, you might be take him at face value. But the move came about 30 hours after a pair of questionable slides into second base in Game 3, a series full of back-and-forth jawing with various Brewers players and a reputation that’s garnered criticism throughout baseball. Even the mild-mannered Christian Yelich let Machado have it.
“One time is an accident. [When it’s] repeated over and over and over again, you’re just a dirty player,” Yelich said. “It’s a dirty play by a dirty player. That’s what it is. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, but you can’t respect [a person] who plays the game like that.
“It has no place in our game.”
Aguilar, when asked about Yelich’s comments, said, “No answer,” though he admitted he understands the anger from his teammates.
“It got so many people mad on the team. They don’t agree with what he did, but it’s just a game,” Aguilar said. “It was wrong [but] we already talked. We’re good now.”
First base was open. So, too, was third base. And yet, Junior Guerra served up a very hittable ball to Cody Bellinger, who promptly drilled it to right field to score Machado for the walk-off win. Asked afterwards whether they considered walking Bellinger to get to the struggling Yasmani Grandal, catcher Erik Kratz said no. But that certainly didn’t mean they wanted to give something easy for Bellinger to hit. Kratz said they expanded the zone after they got two strikes on him, but just couldn’t finish.
“That’s making your pitches. Making pitches isn’t always throwing strikes. It’s making your pitches in areas that [might] make him chase,” Kratz said. “It’s a situation where we’re trying to make our pitches. We’re not trying to put one in an area where he can put it in play.”
They did and they lost the game. But for those thinking that a walk of Bellinger would have led to facing Grandal, manager Craig Counsell said that would not have been the case. If Bellinger had only walked, Grandal would have been right behind him on the way to first base as the pitcher spot was up after him and there were no position players left on the the Los Angeles bench.
Gio done for the year
Gio Gonzalez was unlikely to pitch more than two innings, but he didn’t even make it that far. The lefty was lost in the second inning when he suffered a high ankle sprain trying to come off the mound to grab a ball hit at him off the bat of Yasiel Puig. Trainers came out to tend to him, he tried to make a go of it but lasted just one more pitch before calling it a night.
Counsell said they’ll be replacing Gonzalez on the roster, though it remains unclear who will take his spot. Among the candidates would be Chase Anderson, who hasn’t pitched since Sept. 18.
Impact of Game 4 on Game 5
The day after a 13-inning game is difficult under normal circumstances. Dealing with it in the postseason is an even bigger challenge, especially for the pitching staffs.
“I think anytime you’ve got to cover 13 innings, and there’s a game the next day, you’re always worried about that,” Counsell said. “And we’ll have to kind of put our heads together and look at what we’ve got.”
Milwaukee used seven pitchers in Game 4, including Josh Hader and Corey Knebel. It was the second-straight day of work for both and it seems unlikely that either would be available on Wednesday. That means the four pitchers that didn’t see action in Game 3 — Wade Miley, Brandon Woodruff, Xavier Cedeno and Jeremy Jeffress — could carry the load for the Crew in a pivotal Game 5.
LISTEN: Jesus Aguilar addresses the media