Frostbite Falls, Minnesota: The game time temperature was a chilly 43 degrees, but the hitters weren’t frozen. Yuma hit two two-run homers—but was it enough to survive the Frostbite barrage and tie the series?

Both teams were licking their chops at the thought of the opposing pitcher. Yuma hurler Matt Cain came in with a good reputation, but his lone first-round start was a dud: 3.2 innings, eight hits, five runs allowed in a Game Two loss. Frostbite Falls youngster Jhoulys Chacin fared worse in his Game Four appearance against Philadelphia: 2.2 innings, two hits, five walks and eight runs given up.

So if the Firebirds could be patient and wait for Chacin’s bullets to miss their mark, they could score runs in bunches. Alternatively, the Flying Squirrels were hoping for Cain to be as hittable as his previous start.

As the game started, the latter became the more likely result. Just six pitches into the bottom of the first, the Squirrels had plated two runs. Jason Heyward led off with a double into the left-field corner, and Jayson Werth followed with a two-bagger of his own down the right field line. Albert Pujols was next with a soft single to center. Werth read the ball perfectly and scored ahead of Shane Victorino’s throw.


Cain settled down and didn’t allow any more damage in the first, but Frostbite Falls was back at it right away in the second frame. Rickie Weeks singled up the middle and was moved to second by a Chacin sacrifice bunt. “J-Hey” was up for the second time in two innings, and he proved he had Cain figured out. The lithe, powerful outfielder roped a 2-2 offering deep to right-center. It got down and rattled around, and by the time the relay reached the infield, Heyward had third base and a run batted in. He didn’t stay long; Werth lifted a sacrifice fly to center just four pitches later.

Chacin was perfect through the first three innings, but in the fourth the Yuma hitters rattled him. Nick Markakis lined a one-out single. Chacin tried to pass a one-strike fastball by Ryan Braun, but the burly outfielder didn’t miss. With the silence of the stunned crowd in the background, the ball soared over the left-center field fence, and the Firebirds were right back in the ballgame.

Chacin seemed to settle down, getting Joey Votto to fly out on the first pitch. But Ryan Zimmerman blooped a single to left and things got rocky. Chacin unleashed a wild pitch and another ball before Victor Martinez couldn’t handle ball three, moving Zimmerman to third. Martin Prado took ball four, bringing up Victorino. He put the ball in play, but it was a grounder to Evan Longoria, who fired to second for the force to end the inning.


Cain was removed for a pinch-hitter in the top of the fifth, so Clay Buchholz took over for the bottom of the inning. He set down the first two with ease but then encountered trouble. Jose Reyes doubled and Weeks was walked intentionally to set up the force with Chacin hitting. The strategy backfired, however, as the pitcher squibbed the ball just out of the reach of Zimmerman and into left field, scoring Reyes. Buchholz uncorked a wild pitch to advance both runners, and Heyward came through again with a bouncer up the middle to plate both runners.


Frostbite was back at it the next inning, as Pujols and Martinez reached and advanced on another Buchholz wild pitch. Drew Stubbs beat out an infield single, but Reyes grounded into a double play to limit the Squirrels’ scoring.


Yuma’s Rod Barajas doubled off Chacin in the seventh, but he was stranded as Vladimir Guerrero and Rafael Furcal struck out.

Drew Storen was next on the hill for Yuma, and he didn’t fare much better than the previous two hurlers. After a strikeout, pinch-hitter Adam Lind pulled a double down the right field line. Heyward singled for his fourth RBI, and an out later he scored for the third time on a Pujols single.


Though the Firebirds scored again in the eighth with a two-run Votto homer, the game was essentially over. The 10-4 final put the Flying Squirrels on the verge of their fifth World Championship, and with a chance to clinch in front of the home fans the next night. 

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