For Oakland A’s fans, one of the great ironies of the 2019 season was Fernando Rodney going to the World Series. The reliever had a terrible two months for the A’s in April and May, grading out as arguably the worst player on the team thanks to his 9.42 ERA, but after being released from Oakland the 42-year-old caught on in Washington and pitched well the rest of the year for the Nationals.
The Fall Classic started well enough for Rodney, who tossed a scoreless frame in his team’s blowout victory in Game 2 and then wiggled out of a tough jam in Game 3. But the magic ran out in Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday, and A’s fans saw something a little closer to what we were used to from him.
Rodney entered the game in the 7th inning, faced with a two-on, one-out rally. He allowed a single to Michael Brantley to load the bases, and then Alex Bregman took him deep for a grand slam. That pushed the score from 4-1 up to 8-1, and the Astros cruised the rest of the way to win the game and even the series at two games apiece.
It wasn’t actually a bad pitch, painted perfectly on the low-inside corner, but it wasn’t enough to beat one of the best hitters in the sport. After all, the list of pitchers whom Bregman has homered off in his postseason career is incredible. Rodney had faced Bregman with the bases loaded in Game 3 and retired him, but this time the MVP candidate got the better of him.
A few more facts about Bregman’s blast, via CBS:
Bregman’s now got nine postseason home runs in just 41 games. He joins Ken Boyer (1964 Cardinals) as the only third basemen to hit a grand slam in the World Series. It was the first World Series grand slam since Addison Russell hit one for the Cubs in 2016 and the first by an American League player since Paul Konerko of the White Sox crushed one in the 2005 Fall Classic.
The first three games saw former A’s players coming up big, but this time one was on the wrong side of the memorable moment. In Game 1 it was Sean Doolittle earning the tough save for Washington, in Game 2 it was Kurt Suzuki homering for the go-ahead run for the Nats, and in Game 3 it was Josh Reddick driving in a key run for the Astros.
The Nats host the Astros for Game 5 tonight, beginning at 5:07 p.m., with a pitching matchup of Gerrit Cole for Houston against Joe Ross for Washington (replacing Max Scherzer, scratched with back/neck spasms).