|Nate McLouth homers in the 5th inning of Game 4.|
As I was listening to the game on the radio, I was contemplating if it was possible to see some point in the game where a play that happened or a play that wasn’t made would serve as an obvious predictor of the ultimate outcome of the game.
I’m not talking about a grand slam such as occurred in the final game of the Giants/Reds series. The outcome from those can be pretty easy to identify, even if this one did occur in the fifth. It was pretty obvious that unless the Giants bullpen imploded, they almost couldn’t lose with a six-run lead.
So as the fourth game of the division series between the two eastern division teams progressed last night, I began looking for a clear sign as to which side might prevail. The pitchers, Saunders for the Birds and Hughes for the Bombers, both seemed to be on their games, putting zeroes on the board with efficient regularity.
Then came the fifth – once again.
In the top of the inning, Nate McLouth, the discarded Pirate, came up aces with a home run to take huge bite out of the Big Apple. (This was, after all, the New Yorker’s game to lose rather than the Baltimore’s game to win.) With the strength of both teams’ bullpens, I thought to myself his bomb could possibly be it. There might be other runs, but McLouth had given all the momentum to his team. You could almost hear the Yankee bench tighten up.
|McLouth’s brilliant 5th inning catch.|
[Sidebar: Guess who hit the BP ball before his first game as a Yankee on May 3rd, the one that Mariano Rivera was going back to snag when he tore up his knee and was knocked out for the season, and possibly ended his career?]
On Saunders’ second pitch, Nix hit a long fly ball to deep left. Racing back, McLouth, a gold glove winner in ’08, made a brilliant catch against the scoreboard (making it look far easier than it actually was. Martin had already rounded second, believing he would score when the Nix drive dropped in for a hit, and he was easily doubled off first when McLouth threw to Hardy at shortstop who relayed to Reynolds at first. Inning over. Momentum was solidly ensconced in the visitor’s dugout.
Even though New York scored in the bottom of the sixth, it was clear to me that Baltimore had seized “the moment”, and the baseball gods would eventually send them to the clubhouse smiling, and ready to try for the brass ring in the final game of the series.