Pitcher Joe Blanton of the Los Angeles Dodgers was on the mound in Chicago and was looking for history to repeat itself. His eyes were wide-opened and the cameras were all focused on him as Blanton prepared himself to try and take control of this awkward situation. Wrigley field and its fans were enjoying Saturday night’s party as well as the Cubs players now but were really ecstatic a mere thirty minutes ago when a 3-3 game was suddenly blown wide open as Blanton’s third consecutive slider to Miguel Montero was sent to the house issuing a grand slam victory for the home team.
Within the long history regarding postseason baseball, this was the first game leading grand slam by a pinch hitter served up perfectly by Blanton to the Cubs better. Veteran Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher told reporters after losing Game 1 of the NLCS that the situation on what is being discussed would be different had he executed his pitch properly. Also, he added that this is the outcome when execution is not achieved. Being a reliever, the pitcher vowed to put aside his performance and not let it affect him as he prepares for Sunday’s Game 2, which is a vital game as Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw would be the starter before the teams head back to play in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the reliever was still plagued by how his confrontation with Montero had ended, an at-bat which started with Blanton remembering the time before he pitched to the catcher for the Cubs earlier this year. The game was at Dodgers stadium on August 26th and he recalled how Montero was given three sliders that resulted in all strikes to strike out the Cubs catcher. Blanton commented saying his pitch selection was based on the success he had when he faced Montero the last time.
So, the choice was made to throw in the dirt towards the catcher’s back foot three consistent sliders in an effort to strike him out; however, there was risk involved being there was a runner representing the go-ahead run on third base as a result of an intentional walk to Chris Coghlan ordered by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Although the bases were now loaded, the objective was to make the Cubs have to pinch hit for their closer Aroldis Chapman.
The first two pitches yielded Montero checking his swing for the first slider and a called strike while the second slider stayed up but Blanton was lucky, his own admission afterwards, to get a call of strike two. Montero, in the moment, was upset at himself and said that in his mind he was in disbelief that he let that go by as it was the perfect pitch to swing at. Nevertheless, Blanton didn’t think twice about what pitch #3 was going to be. Montero said later he wished for Blanton to throw him another slider and he would get his wish. The pitch did not hang long as the 102-year-old arena was extremely loud by the time the ball went over the wall giving Montero a grand slam. Meanwhile, back on the mound could be seen Blanton with his hand over his face in disbelief and in the haze of it all, the next batter named Dexter Fowler would also get a home run.