MILWAUKEE (AP) — Manny Machado gestured with hands, appearing to egg on the booing crowd as he retreated down the dugout steps following a first-inning strikeout.
The jeers kept coming for the Los Angeles Dodgers star. So did the outs.
Machado went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in a 7-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night that pushed the NL Championship Series to a Game 7. Asked if he was shaken by the persistent boos, Machado said he was just focused on the game and responded with cliches.
“I’m here to play baseball. I’m here to get the W,” he said. “We didn’t hit. … We didn’t do what we needed to do. So, we’ve got to do a better job tomorrow.”
Expect fans at Miller Park to keep voicing their displeasure Saturday night.
Major League Baseball fined Machado an undisclosed amount for kicking Milwaukee first baseman Jesus Aguilar in Game 4, a base-running incident that caused benches to clear at Dodger Stadium and prompted Brewers MVP candidate Christian Yelich to call Machado a “dirty player.”
Booed lustily each time he came to the plate, Machado had no answer for the jeers.
He struck out in the first with one out after Justin Turner had reached on a single. He gestured after the at-bat at the dugout steps.
Machado explained that he was trying to get back to the top step to root for the next hitter, Cody Bellinger.
“So, at that point, you’re just trying to pass the baton. Hopefully, he picks you up,” Machado said. “None of us picked each other up today. So, we got to do a better job tomorrow.”
Machado popped up to shortstop ending the third. He bounced out to shortstop in the eighth .
An inning-ending strikeout in the fifth with two on was the most costly at-bat for the Dodgers. David Freese, who led off the game with a home run, hit an RBI double with one out that cut the gap to 5-2. Max Muncy walked, Turner flied out and Machado worked the count to 2-2 count before swinging through Corey Knebel’s 97 mph fastball.
Other than Freese, most of the rest of the lineup struggled, too. Turner and Chris Taylor were the only other position players to get hits.
They couldn’t rally after a four-run first inning for the Brewers off Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said his team fed off the loud fans. The big first inning, in turn, riled them up more.
Even Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was impressed.
“But it was really good energy tonight,” he said.
Especially when Machado was up.
A free-agent-to-be acquired from Baltimore in July 18, Machado hit .297 with 37 homers and a career-high 107 RBIs in 162 games with the Orioles and Dodgers this year. But in the Championship Series he’s hit .261 with one homer and three RBIs — all in the opener.
He scored the winning run in the 13th inning for the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory in Game 4. He reached twice and scored in a 5-2 win on Wednesday, sending the Dodgers back to Milwaukee with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The 26-year-old shortstop has been notable primarily for questionable base-running decisions, including the Game 4 clip of Aguilar.
The four-time All-Star also made a pair of hard slides into second base in Game 3 while shortstop Orlando Arcia attempted to turn double plays. The second one resulted in a double play for the Brewers after a video review.
Machado didn’t run out a grounder in Game 2, and then told Fox Sports 1 in an interview there was “no excuse” for not making more effort, but he wasn’t the “type of player that’s going to be Johnny Hustle and run down the line and slide to first base.”
“That’s just not my personality. That’s not my cup of tea. That’s not who I am,” he said.