The Los Angeles Dodgers had Cody Bellinger to thank after they levelled up their National League Championship Series with the Milwaukee Brewers after a thrilling 2-1 victory in game four.
Bellinger went into Tuesday's match 1 for 21 in the postseason and 1 for 10 in the NLCS, but that all changed with a sensational reel catch to keep Lorenzo Cain off the bases late in the game.
He also went 2 for 4 including a walk-off RBI single in the 13th inning which gave the Dodgers a 2-1 victory.
Playing the matchups doesn't always work
The Brewers played the matchup on Tuesday by giving Jonathan Schoop his first start of the NLCS. Schoop, a right-handed hitter, got the call over lefty Travis Shaw as Rich Hill was called upon by the Dodgers.
On the surface it looked like a good move. Schoop was a .300 hitter last season against lefties and was 30 points better this season against southpaws than Shaw (.239 to .209). But Schoop went 0 for 2 with a strikeout against Hill and followed that up with another K against Pedro Baez in the sixth inning. He also grounded out when he faced Kenley Jansen in the ninth and grounded out again in extra innings.
These were Schoop's third, fourth and fifth at-bats of the postseason. Shaw was hitting .333 with a .417 on-base percentage in the postseason before Tuesday's game, and for his career, he is batting just 12 points lower than Schoop against lefties (.246 to .234). The numbers this season said to start Schoop on Tuesday, but starting Shaw would not have turned out worse.
In Schoop's defence, though, Shaw did strike out in the ninth inning against Jansen, so he did not make much of an impact when he got the chance, either.
That was exhausting.— Sporting News (@sportingnews) October 17, 2018
That was exhilarating.
That was October baseball.pic.twitter.com/Pq442ePOmf
Domingo Santana carving out a niche
Domingo Santana was the odd-man out for the Brewers this year. With the offseason acquisitions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, Santana was constantly on the trade block and had 314 fewer at-bats in 2018 than 2017.
But as much of a challenge as he had finding a spot in the line-up, he still found a way to deliver in key spots. He did just that in game four as he drove in Orlando Arcia with a pinch-hit double in the fifth inning.
Santana thrived as a pinch-hitter this season. According to the Athletic, Santana's .793 slugging percentage and 1.262 OPS ranked first as a pinch-hitter out of 89 players this season with 20 or more at-bats. He may not have found chances to contribute the way he wanted to in 2018, but he absolutely made an impact in game four.
Domingo Santana game-tying pinch-hit double ..— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 17, 2018
Santana's .793 slug pct and 1.262 OPS as pinch hitter during regular season ranked 1st out 89 players with 20+ PA.
Kenley Jansen is to the Brewers what Craig Kimbrel is to the Rays
Sometimes teams simply cannot hit a pitcher. The Tampa Bay Rays have never been able to hit Craig Kimbrel. The Boston Red Sox's closer has a 0.62 ERA in 28 career games (29 innings) against Tampa Bay. Kenley Jansen is the same way with the Brewers.
Los Angeles' closer came into game four with a career 0.00 ERA against the Brewers with 33 strikeouts in 19 innings. He added another two scoreless innings while allowing a hit and a walk on Tuesday.
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