LOS ANGELES – After Manny Machado kicked Jesus Aguilar in the foot during the 10th inning of what became a surreal, 13-inning playoff game, the two chatted and Machado apologized. Aguilar, the Milwaukee Brewers' affable first baseman, says the two are good.
That does not mean Machado is not reviled by a significant number of Brewers.
In a sequence that may be the most unforgettable moment in a National League Championship Series that just got a whole lot spicier, Machado's kick/attempted spike of Aguilar left his opponents enraged and also confounded that one of baseball's top three talents commits acts on the field that can only be described as bush league.
Machado ended up scoring the winning run in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 2-1 victory that squared the NLCS at 2-2. Multiple Brewers declined comment.
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Right fielder Christian Yelich took it upon himself to express the clubhouse feeling.
"He’s a player that has a history of those types of instances. One time’s an accident, but over and over and over again – you’re just a dirty player," Yelich said in a blistering 60-second screed that was preceded by more colorful descriptions of Machado's play.
"A dirty play by a dirty player. It absolutely is. I have a lot of respect for him as a player, but you can’t respect someone who plays the game like that."
Aguilar, 28, and Yelich both have known Machado for at least a decade. Yelich and Machado played with and against each other on the elite youth baseball circuit and were part of the 2010 draft class. Machado was chosen third overall by the Baltimore Orioles and the Miami Marlins grabbed Yelich 20 picks later.
Yelich admits he's taken aback by Machado's conduct in this series, which included an interference call at second base when he reached out and grabbed Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia, along with a general lack of hustle that led to him admitting he doesn't like to run out balls in a Fox Sports interview.
Machado was suspended for five games in 2014 when he threw a bat in the direction of Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson, two days after the two were involved in an incident following a hard tag on Machado. He also hit Oakland's catcher, Derek Norris, with his backswing multiple times that series.
Then, Game 4, 10th inning, a ground ball to Arcia and a play that looked bad initially, and terribly egregious in high-definition slow motion. Machado said he was "trying to get over him and hit his foot. If that's dirty, that's dirty, I don't know, call it what you want."
Yelich was happy to comply.
"It was a tough-fought baseball game, but it has no place in our game," says Yelich. "I mean, we’ve all grounded out. Run through the bag like you’ve been doing your whole life, like everyone else did.
"If it’s an accident, it’s an accident. But on replay, to us, it clearly looks like you’re going out of your way to step on somebody, run into somebody. It’s unacceptable.
"I don’t know what his problem is, honestly. I’ve known him and played against him for a long time. It has no place in the game."
Aguilar and Machado came through multiple rungs of the minors at the same time and, Aguilar said, are friendly. They remain that way even after the Game 4 imbroglio.
“We talked and we’re good," Aguilar said. "I’ve known Machado since a long time ago and we already talked.
"I know him really well and it’s already passed. We turned the page; now we have to come and play tomorrow."
Several teammates said they either didn't see the play or watch the replay, but that's about as plausible as Milwaukee running out of beer to drink.
"Yeah, everybody (saw it)," Aguilar said. "A couple guys were really mad, but we’re just trying to win the game. He did (apologize), and that’s why I say we’re good."
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