Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: Bellinger Answers Astros

Sunday, October 29, 2017


By any objective measure, Aaron Judge had a phenomenal regular season.

 

He led the American League with 52 home runs. He also led the league in runs scored, with 128. He walked an AL-high 127 times, despite striking out an MLB-most 208 times. Judge had a historic rookie season.

 

But the last memory of Judge for many baseball fans is one of failure. With the regular season left behind, Judge endured a much less friendly October, setting an MLB record with 27 strikeouts in a single postseason while batting just .188 in 13 games. Forget garnering MVP votes; Judge would be lucky to have a starting spot in some fans' make-believe outfields after that showing.

 

It's a fate that threatened to befall Cody Bellinger prior to Saturday. Through three World Series contests, Bellinger was 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts. A few more bad showings and all the good of Bellinger's incredible rookie year -- the 39 homers, the 97 RBI, all of it -- would be washed away, replaced with a sour taste in the mouths of anyone who spoke Bellinger's name until next spring.

 

After Saturday, it's safe to say those demons won't haunt Bellinger.

 

The 22-year-old was one of a few heroes for the Dodgers in a 6-2 win over the Astros, a victory significant not only because it knotted the series at 2-2 through four games, but also because it guaranteed the series will shift back to Los Angeles for a Game 6 and possible Game 7. After Sunday's Game 5 in Houston, Game 6 will be Tuesday evening at Chavez Ravine.

 

And that's thanks in large part to Bellinger. Entering the game in an 0-for-11 slump, the first baseman fell even deeper into a hole by making outs in his first two at-bats Saturday. Staring down another hitless night, Bellinger instead ignited a Dodgers rally with an opposite field double in the seventh inning. Two batters later, Logan Forsythe singled him in, tying the game at 1-1 after George Springer's solo homer in the sixth inning gave the Astros the first lead of the night.

 

Where it took Bellinger 14 at-bats to get his first World Series hit, his second came just two innings later. After Astros closer Ken Giles allowed a leadoff single to Corey Seager and walked Justin Turner, Bellinger lined a fastball over the shortstop's head and into the left-center field gap to plate the go-ahead run. Joc Pederson would later hit a three-run home run to distance the Dodgers from the Astros, eventually ending with a 6-2 score.

 

The final score was a far cry from the pitching duel that defined the game's early innings. On one side, Dodgers starter Alex Wood carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning; on the other, Astros starter Charlie Morton was arguably better than Wood despite lacking the potentially historic undertones. Neither starter allowed a run until George Springer belted a hanging Wood offering over the left field wall.

 

The Dodgers answered with a run in the top of the seventh, and put it away with a strong ninth. Dodgers reliever Tony Watson, one of three relievers to put up zeroes in the contest, got the win. Giles, who has now allowed a run in six of seven postseason appearances this month, took the loss.

 

A Game 1 rematch is set for Sunday night, with Dallas Keuchel taking the mound for the home team and Clayton Kershaw going for the visiting side. Be there.

 

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Gurriel Avoids World Series Ban

 

There was plenty of drama Saturday before the players even took the field.

 

Yulieski Gurriel, who was seen making a racist gesture in the dugout after hitting a home run off Dodgers starter Yu Darvish in Friday night's Game 3, dodged an immediate suspension but will miss the first five games of the 2018 regular season, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in addressing the media Saturday afternoon. Gurriel and the MLBPA have already expressed their intent to not appeal the suspension.

 

Manfred laid out multiple reasons for handing down the suspension in 2018 rather than trying to make Gurriel miss some or all of the rest of the postseason, noting the fact that Gurriel will lose salary by missing regular season games in 2018 and taking into consideration Darvish's diplomatic handling of the situation as two factors in the decision.

 

“I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible,” Gurriel said in a statement released by the Astros. “I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it.

 

“I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect.”

 

Even though no suspension was handed down, some thought Gurriel might be absent, or deserve to be absent, from Saturday's lineup as a form of internal punishment. Gurriel, though, started at first base and batted fifth in the contest, a 6-2 loss. He was hitless in three at-bats.

 

Darvish, for his part, has handled the situation with dignity.

 

“No one is perfect,” Darvish wrote on social media. “That includes both you and I.

 

“What he had done today isn’t right, but I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. If we can take something from this, that is a giant step for mankind. Since we are living in such a wonderful world, let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger.

 

“I’m counting on everyone’s big love.”

 

Quick Hits: The biggest question to come out of Saturday's game was what the Astros are to do with Giles, who now has an 11.74 ERA in 7 2/3 postseason innings. The rest of the relievers around him haven't been head and shoulders better, but it's hard to see Astros manager A.J. Hinch going back to Giles in a high-leverage situation this fall ... Prior to Saturday's game, Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen were presented with the American League and National League Reliever of the Year Awards, respectively. Kimbrel won the AL award, named after Mariano Rivera, after posting a 1.43 ERA and 0.68 WHIP with 126 strikeouts in 69 innings this year. Jansen, a back-to-back winner of the Trevor Hoffman award, saved a league-high 41 games for the National League champs ... According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Rockies have yet to decide whether or not to make a qualifying offer to impending free agent Carlos Gonzalez ... According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports, the Orioles are expected to decline their $12 million option on Wade Miley.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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