Manny Machado was on fire in the rubber match, with a home run and three RBI
Worcester opened the scoring in the rubber match of the Grapefruit Wild Card series, but could they hold on and advance to face Yuma in the divisional series?
Indeed, the Eliminators, after a 6-1 thrashing of host Brownsville in Game 2, put the first run on the board in the finale. In the first inning, in fact, George Springer walked and stole second. With two down, Robinson Cano lined a single through the middle, nearly decapitating Yu Darvish, and Springer came home.
Big lefty Jordan Montgomery held the one-run advantage through two solid frames, giving up just a Manny Machado double, but in the third the Cutters jumped on him to take the lead. Montgomery’s first offering of the frame nicked Tyler Flowers, and Darvish dumped a hit into center. The pitcher was erased as Javier Baez grounded into a force play for the first out. Next was Machado, and he proved he had Montgomery figured out. The Brownsville third baseman hammered the first pitch he saw the opposite way down the line, the blast just creeping over the wall inside the foul pole to give the Cutters a 3-1 lead.
The very next inning, the hosts added one to their lead. After Montgomery thought he’d stemmed a rally with a double play, Michael Taylor turned around an 0-2 pitch and lifted it far over the left-field fence.
The 4-1 game held until the sixth, when Cano lined a hanging breaking ball out of the park to straightaway center. Montgomery gave that right back in the home half, walking Aaron Judge and allowing advance on a wild pitch. Judge later scored on a deep sacrifice fly off the bat of A.J. Pollock.
The book on Montgomery’s night came to a close when Carlos Gonzalez pinch hit in the top of the seventh. With one out and the bases empty, Gonzalez took a 2-0 Darvish offering deep to right-center. It was the last pitch Darvish threw, as Carl Edwards took over and finished the inning with a pair of strikeouts to hold the 5-3 lead.
Worcester drew another run closer on a Nelson Cruz blast in the eighth, but with no one on base the Cutters remained in the lead.
One run is as close as the Eliminators got. Their bullpen, short on healthy arms entering the playoffs, faltered and gave up five runs in the bottom of the frame. Judge opened with a walk and later scored on a Pollock double. Taylor drove in a pair with another two-bagger, and Baez finished the barrage with a bases-loaded double.
Wade Davis was the Brownsville choice to finish it off. After a single, Davis induced a double play. Finally, he struck out Trea Turner and the Cutters took the field in celebration.
FINAL: BROWNSVILLE 10, WORCESTER 4
With the win, Brownsville punched their ticket to the divisional round. Their prize? A best-of-five with the best team in the league: the Yuma Firebirds.