Manny Machado shows Yankees he can be an October force
MILWAUKEE — Possible future Yankee Manny Machado showed again Friday night what kind of October force he can be, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Dodgers from coming up short in the opener of the NLCS.
The Brewers hung on for a 6-5 victory at Miller Park to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Machado lined a home run in the second inning and ripped a two-run single in the eighth. The home run was his third in five postseason games for the Dodgers, the fifth player in Dodgers history to homer in three of the team’s first five postseason games, joining Manny Ramirez, Davey Lopes, Steve Garvey and Duke Snider.
The question is will Machado, who is a free agent after the season, be doing this for the Yankees come next October, especially with Friday’s news that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will undergo Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm.
Machado told The Post that his thoughts were with Gregorius at this time and he did not want to discuss his future.
“I feel for Didi, I am not talking about that and I’m not worrying about any of that stuff in the future,’’ Machado said at his locker. “I’m in the postseason now and that’s where my focus is totally.’’
To beat the Brewers and their nasty bullpen, the Dodgers are going to need Machado to lead the way for the offense.
Machado already has nine RBIs in five postseason games. That is five off the single-season club record of 14, held by Justin Turner.
“You have to take the good and the bad from this game,’’ Machado said. “We have to play better defense. We are going to battle offensively and we are going to keep our pitchers in the game, but we have to play better defense.’’
The Dodgers made four errors on a night Clayton Kershaw could not pitch and Yasmani Grandal could not catch. Grandal made two errors, including a key catcher’s interference and had two passed balls.
Even Gary Sanchez wasn’t this bad.
How bad was Grandal? Legendary Brewers announcer Bob Uecker, a former major league catcher with the Milwaukee Braves who has made a career of mocking his own baseball inability, cracked on the Brewers radio network, “Grandal is stealing all my records.’’
Kershaw came into the game 8-7 lifetime in the postseason with a 4.08 ERA, so things got worse for him as he surrendered five runs, four earned in three innings. The lefty has had some bad postseason luck but this was just a poor performance.
Kershaw was so bad he allowed the Brewers’ second pitcher of the night, Brandon Woodruff, to crush a long home run to center field to tie the game at 1-1. That ignited the Brewers offensively.
The Brewers scored three more times in the fourth and the Dodgers also committed another error, this one by the left fielder Taylor. Kershaw started the inning, but could not get any of the three batters he faced.
The Brewers put tough at-bat after tough at-bat on Kershaw, who could not muster the stuff or the fastball to strike out Brewers in key spots.
Woodruff came in to relieve Gio Gonzalez after just two innings, remember they are not so much starters as they are initial out-getters, and batted in the third and did something relief pitchers rarely do in the postseason — blast a home run.
The last Milwaukee pitcher to homer in the postseason was a Brave, Lew Burdette in Game 2 of the 1958 World Series against the Yankees.
All the pressure in the world is on the Dodgers. They lost in seven games to the Astros in the World Series and desperately need to get back to the Fall Classic. While the Brewers have never won a World Series, the Dodgers have not won one since 1988.
The Dodgers did manage to put a dent into the Brewers’ bullpen in the eighth, but pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig struck out with runners on first and third and two out.
Taylor’s RBI triple in the ninth made it a one-run game, but the mistakes the Dodgers made earlier came back to haunt them.
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