So, that’s it. The League Championship Series are over and since I’m already bored without baseball I went back and took a look at some of the best moments in the ALCS and NLCS.
Limiting myself to five moments was really the hardest part of this exercise and before I get into heroics there are a few moments that just missed the cut, like Chris Taylor’s outstanding catch during Game 7 of the NLCS, Yasiel Puig’s HR to put the Dodgers firmly in the lead, and pretty much everything Jose Altuve did as the Astros’ designated hitter considering he had did it all on a knee that required surgery as soon as the Astros were eliminated. There are certainly good arguments for including any or all of these, but I tried to limit myself to five.
5 - Andrew Benintendi saves the game
Let’s be really clear, this catch is spectacular all on it’s own, but the moment makes it so much better. The thing about this catch is that is saved a game and if Benintendi misjudges this ball, even a little, the Red Sox lose Game 4 and possibly the series. It’s that big of a catch.
The Astros had the bases loaded with two down and Alex Bregman up to bat, he scorched a ball to shallow left that looked like a guaranteed single to tie the game, but Benintendi decided he wasn’t interested in extra innings that day:
That is a remarkable catch to save the series particularly since Craig Kimbrel was clearly struggling for outs. If Benintendi misses, the Astros win in a walkoff. But he didn’t and momentum stayed with the Red Sox who won the series in five games.
4 - Cody Bellinger does it all in Game 4
Cody Bellinger won the NLCS MVP on the back of timely plays that had a huge impact. His stat line for the series wasn’t all that impressive. He hit .200 with four RBIs, but oh what RBIs they were. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with this catch in the tenth inning in Game 4:
That is a key catch in a tie game to keep the lead off runner off the bases. It’s also just smooth. But Bellinger wasn’t done yet. He followed it up with this walk off single in the 13th [VIDEO].
The heroics did not stop there. Bellinger crushed a 425 ft two run homer in Game 7 to give the Dodgers an early lead that they’d never give up:
And yes, he’s flexing as he comes around to home plate. That is absolutely acceptable when you hit a monster blast in Game 7.
3 - David Price is redeemed
Heading into the ALCS David Price had started ten postseason games. His team had lost all of those starts and he had taken the loss in nine of them. To say he had something to prove in the postseason is an understatement. A friend of mine asked me if it was possible to have a postseason specific case of the yips. It was not good. In the 2018 ALCS Price finally managed to turn it around.
His game two start was only 4⅔ innings so he didn’t qualify for the win, but he was clearly relieved that his team had managed to win a game he started:
“That’s my first team win as a starter,” Price said, smiling.
That’s a big deal. Entering Sunday’s game, Price’s teams -- he has pitched in the playoffs with Tampa Bay, Detroit and Toronto in his 11-year career -- had gone 0-10 in the 10 career postseason starts he had made.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was by far the most consecutive losses for a pitcher’s team to start a postseason career in major league history. Vida Blue’s and Doyle Alexander’s teams went winless across each pitcher’s first six career postseason starts.
Let that sink in for a second. Entering Game 2 of the ALCS David Price’s teams had the most consecutive losses in the history of baseball when he took the mound as the starter in the postseason. So there was a lot of surprise and more than a little bit of fear when Alex Cora turned to Price on short rest for Game 5. Ted Berg summed up the drama entering the game well:
So Cora will go with David Price in Game 5. The same David Price he had warming up in the bullpen as early as the eighth inning on Wednesday. The very same David Price of the much-maligned 5.42 lifetime ERA in the postseason, the guy whose 4 ⅔-inning, four-run performance in Game 2 represented a step forward from recent prior playoff starts. And he’ll be called upon to start on three days’ rest for only the second time in his career and the first time in over a decade.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, at least as far as David Price was concerned, nothing. Not this series. Not this day. Price threw six shutout innings of baseball, walking none and striking out nine. Whatever trouble he was having pitching in the postseason seemed to disappear during the ALCS. As this adorable postgame interview shows, he had more problems with his son in the presser than he did on the mound:
2 - Alex Bregman is incredible
I’ve talked about baseball’s inability to market it’s players well here before, but at least one player isn’t sitting around and waiting. Alex Bregman has a social media account and he knows how to use it. He’s not scared to tell you what he thinks, even if it means talking a little trash. The only time I’ll ever root against the Red Sox is when they are playing the Cubs, but I’m a little sad that Bregman’s postseason is over because I could definitely use more like this in my life:
He started the series angry that the Astros weren’t playing on prime time and was pretty candid about his views:
“I want to end with saying one thing,” Bregman told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt in an interview during the team’s locker-room celebration after an 11-3 win sealed a return trip to the ALCS. “Does Floyd Mayweather fight the first fight of the night, or is he the main event? I mean, does Tiger Woods tee off at 8 a.m.?
”It’s about time the ‘show ‘Stros’ play on prime-time television, so we’re looking forward to the ALCS.”
He was not done. After the Astros won Game 2 to even the series at one game a piece he decided to troll the Red Sox with clips of the Astros facing Nathan Eovaldi earlier in the season (in fairness to the Red Sox, this didn’t seem to phase them at all. Eovaldi threw six innings and only gave up two runs to earn the win in Game 3) :
Bregman’s instagram story right is a video of the Astros going back-to-back-to-back dingers off Nate Eovaldi in June.— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) October 15, 2018
There is also this gem, where he’s literally talking trash about an out:
#Astros Alex Bregman said he "knew he missed it", re: his final at-bat on the fly out just shy of the Green Monster. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/cV2yHSpNEs— Adam Wexler (@KPRC2AdamW) October 15, 2018
Whitney McIntosh had a great write up of Bregman’s pettiest moments that you should check out if you want to know more. I can’t wait to check in on Bregman next season.
1- David Ortiz reacts to JBJ’s grand slam
Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a grand slam in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS to give the Red Sox a commanding 8-2 lead over the Astros. The grand slam probably would have made this list on its own, as you can see here [VIDEO].
But the grand slam likely wouldn’t have been number one on its own. This grand slam is number one because shortly after it was hit Fox Sports released an instagram video that captured David Ortiz reacting to this hit and I love this video:
I love everything about this. I love how much David Ortiz loves the Red Sox. I love that the man who has more postseason heroics than any player I’ve seen in my lifetime reacts to a grand slam in the postseason the same way I react on my couch. I love that he’s hugging Frank Thomas and clearly elated.
The LCS has wrapped up, but we’ve got the World Series in front of us and I trust the Dodgers and Red Sox to give us a few more outstanding baseball moments in the fall classic. If I missed one of your favorite moments from the LCS post it in the comments below.