By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave: As speculated in this corner, Joe Girardi wants to manage, but he doesn’t want to manage the Cincinnati Reds and withdrew his name. Could that happen with the other two finalists, David Bell and Brad Ausmus?
Bell interviewed for the Texas Rangers job and the Toronto Blue Jays job. What if he doesn’t want to manage a team where his father, Buddy Bell, might be looking over his shoulder and takes one of the other two jobs? Buddy Bell is a special advisor with the Reds. And Ausmus, a special assistant with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, also interviewed for that job. What if he gets it?
Where would that leave the Reds, other than standing holding an empty managerial bag?
—The Los Angeles Dodgers are headed for their second straight World Series appearance after finally disposing of the Milwaukee Brewers Saturday night in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, 5-1.
And they are dancing in the board rooms of the television networks because Milwaukee, baseball’s smallest market, is gone and the World Series will be played in two huge TV markets, Los Angeles and Boston.
—Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell’s smack ‘em with the bullpen almost worked, except for a slip-up in the sixth inning when Jeremy Jeffress gave up a three-run home run to Yasiel Puig, turning a 2-1 LA lead into a 5-1 lead.
—The Brewers got off on the right foot in the first inning when likely National League MVP Christian Yelich, relatively silent in the NLCS, hit a home run off LA starter Walker Buehler.
—But Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin couldn’t hold it and it all began with power-hitting Manny Machado putting down a bunt in the second inning. It was a crowd-silencer for Machado, heavily and lustily booed the last two nights.
Cody Bellinger turned Miller Park into a funeral parlor by following Machado’s bunt single with a home run into the right-center seats for a 2-1 Dodgers lead.
—Thus began Milwaukee’s parade of relief pitchers. Chacin gave up two runs and three hits in two innings. Then came the irrepressible Josh Hader and he did what Josh Hader does — three innings, no runs, one hit, four strikeouts.
Xavier Cedeno followed Hader to open the sixth and Max Muncy singled and Cedeno was finished after one batter, a major miss step by Counsell, as it turned out.
Jeremy Jeffress, who has struggled in the NLCS, replaced Cedeno. Justin Turner, the third baseman originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds and a postseason icon, singled. Jeffress retired ever-dangerous Machado and ever-dangerous Bellinger. That brought up Puig, relatively quiet in this series. But Puig cleared the center field wall, a three-run dagger to the Brewers.
—Meanwhile, after Yelich’s first-inning home run, LA’s pitching staff took command. Starter Buehler wasn’t Gillette-sharp, giving up six hits over 4 2/3 innings, but he gave up just the one run and struck out seven.
Then came the Dodgers’ bullpen, much less-heralded than the Brewers, and it shut down Milwaukee the rest of the way.
Lorenzo Cain doubled with two outs in the fifth and LA manager Dave Roberts pulled Buehler for Julio Urias and he retired Christian Yelich on a line drive to left that was chased down by Chris Taylor, a run-saving catch, preserving the 2-1 lead.
—Yelich was the only batter Urias faced. Ryan Madson, the man who took a full year’s check from the Cincinnati Reds after injuring his arm in spring training and didn’t throw a pitch, contributed 1 2/3 innings, giving up no runs and one hit.
Then came Kenley Jansen to face four batters and he struck out three during his perfect 1 1/3 innings.
And how best to end it for the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw strolled to the mound for the ninth and went 1-2-3 with two strikeouts, whiffing Mike Moustakas to end it.
—The Brewers had only seven hits, three by the top two in the order, Lorenzo Cain with two and Christian Yelich with one. And the free-swinging Brewers struck out 14 times with Jesus Aguilar going 4-for-4 on the strikeout list.
—The Dodgers had 10 hits and struck out 14 times as the two teams set a post-season playoff record by striking out 163 times in the seven games. Puig had three hits, including his punctuate three-run home run.
—At one time, the injury-riddled Dodgers were 10 games under .500 and used 18 different starting pitchers over the long haul.
—Cody Bellinger, who had the walk-off single in the 13th inning of Game 4 and hit the two-run home run in Game 7, was named the NLCS MVP.