MILWAUKEE -- Manny Machado loved every second of this.The supremely talented shortstop-turned-villain in the National League Championship Series capped his often-controversial series with the last laugh in a 5-1 victory over the Brewers in Game 7 on Saturday night at Miller Park. Machado celebrated his first trip to the World
MILWAUKEE -- Manny Machado loved every second of this.
The supremely talented shortstop-turned-villain in the National League Championship Series capped his often-controversial series with the last laugh in a 5-1 victory over the Brewers in Game 7 on Saturday night at Miller Park. Machado celebrated his first trip to the World Series in the visitors' clubhouse, spraying and drinking champagne with his Dodgers teammates and relishing the fact that he sent more than 40,000 Brewers fans home unhappy.
• World Series presented by YouTube TV, Game 1: Tuesday, 8:09 p.m. ET/5:09 PT on FOX
:: NLCS schedule and results ::
"They're always going to boo the best," Machado said.
Machado set the mood and the table in the series clincher. He stepped into the batter's box in the second inning to a chorus of boos from Brewers fans, who were feeling fine with Milwaukee holding a 1-0 lead. Machado became public enemy No. 1 when he got tangled up with Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar on a controversial play at first base in Game 4 at Dodger Stadium. Words were exchanged. Benches and bullpens cleared. Milwaukee right fielder Christian Yelich afterward called Machado a "dirty player."
Machado couldn't have cared less.
• Dress for Fall Classic: Get Dodgers NL champs gear
Brewers fans jeered Machado throughout Game 6. They chanted "Manny sucks!" Machado went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the 7-2 loss.
Machado lived up to his villain status and stepped up his game in Game 7. He worked a 3-2 count against Milwaukee right-hander Jhoulys Chacin in the second inning, when he unexpectedly bunted a slider up the third-base line for a single.
Machado, who famously answered criticism about not hustling in Game 2 by saying he will never be "Johnny Hustle," reached a sprint speed of 29.3 feet per second. It was Machado's fastest tracked sprint speed of the season.
It appears Machado, who averaged 26.3 feet per second. during the regular season, runs well when he chooses.
But why bunt there, Manny? It was the first 3-2 bunt single since Norichika Aoki had one for the Royals on May 29, 2014.
"I can't say what I really want to say," Machado said.
Machado was upset that Chacin quick pitched him.
"I know it was a little [gutsy], but anything to win," Machado said. "It came out perfectly because Belli [Cody Bellinger] came up next and hit that big, big homer to put us up top."
Machado's unexpected bunt was a moment to savor, but then he sparked further controversy. After he reached first base, he grabbed himself a few times as he faced Brewers fans in the stands. Asked if he made an untoward gesture toward them, Machado sidestepped.
"Honestly, I have no idea," Machado said. "All I heard was, 'Manny sucks.'"
So no gestures to the crowd?
"No," Machado said. "I just hear what they say. I just enjoy it, take it all in, you know?"
Asked if he likes being a villain, Machado sidestepped again.
"I play baseball, I play baseball," he said. "We won today. I love it. There's no better feeling than celebrating."
But come on, Manny? Didn't it feel great to drop down a bunt to spark a rally and win Game 7, especially after the boos and his performance in Game 6?
Machado smiled and pointed to the golden champagne bottle in his hands.
"I play for this," he said.
Machado then scanned over the crowd of reporters in front of him.
"Where's the trophy at?" he said. "Where's the trophy at? That's all I play for, baby. That's all I play for."
Machado tries for a bigger trophy beginning Tuesday against the Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series.
Todd Zolecki has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.