The Brewers lost Game 4 of the NLCS and pitcher Gio Gonzalez for the rest of the playoffs in the early-morning hours Wednesday, but almost suffered another loss when a play involving Manny Machado and Jesus Aguilar at first base nearly cost the Brewers their cleanup hitter.
Machado appeared to intentionally drag his foot across the back of Aguilar’s leg while trying to run out a ground ball, running to the left of the first base foul line. Aguilar came up hobbling, and it caused both benches to clear.
Benches clear after Manny Machado appears to intentionally make contact with Jesus Aguilar‘s leg at first base on a groundout. pic.twitter.com/JBLUpFsuKb— Thomas Lott (@tlott33) October 17, 2018
After the game, Christian Yelich did not mince words on what he thought about Machado:
“You all could see how that unfolded. Everyone has their own opinion. He is a player that has a history with those types of incidents. One time is an accident. Repeated over and over again. It’s a dirty play. It’s a dirty play by a dirty player. I have a lot of respect for him as a player but you can’t respect someone who plays the game like that. it was a tough-fought baseball game. It has no place in our game. We’ve all grounded out. Run through the bag like you’ve been doing your whole life like everybody else does. If it’s an accident it’s an accident. On the replay to us, it clearly looks like you clearly go out of your way to step on someone. It just has no place in our game. It’s unacceptable. I don’t know what his problem is honestly. I’ve played against him for a long time. It has no place in the game.”
And the parting shot:
After Yelich finished answering questions about Machado, he walked away from his locker and blurted out: “F - - k that mother- - - - er.”— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) October 17, 2018
Machado said after the game it was just “baseball” and that he was trying to run hard down the line. Considering Machado’s issues in the past -- and even earlier in this series -- with giving a full effort running out ground balls, you’d be forgiven if you don’t exactly buy that explanation.
As Craig Counsell observed after the game, as quoted in the LA Times:
“I don’t think he’s playing all that hard,” Counsell said dryly.
It wasn’t just the Brewers side that was upset with the play. Dodgers legend-turned-color commentator Orel Hershiser had a blunt assessment after the game (again courtesy of the LA Times):
“It’s embarrassing,” Hershiser said. “It’s embarrassing to himself. It’s embarrassing to the game.”
He added: “I love him as a player. I wish he would hustle on the bases more. I wish he wouldn’t kick first basemen.”--
For what it’s worth, Machado reportedly apologized to Aguilar for kicking him, but still maintains it was not intentional.
Joe Torre, who’s in charge of player discipline, was actually at the game and is expected to take a look at the play. However, given the speed the league office typically operates at in these cases and accounting for an appeals process, it seems unlikely Machado would be suspended in time for Game 5 this afternoon.
This isn’t the first time in the NLCS the Brewers have been upset with Machado’s behavior on the field — earlier in the series, Machado clipped catcher Manny Pina in the head on a backswing and seemed unconcerned about his wellbeing. That led to Aguilar yelling something to Machado as he walked back to the dugout while Pina tried to recollect himself behind the plate.