Russell's defense, homers by Wong, Grichuk, Conforto are Game 2 highlights
By Andrew Simon
It's been a good season for rookies across the Major Leagues, and that has continued into the postseason.
On a day when the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 6-3, and the Dodgers beat the Mets, 5-2, to tie up their respective National League Division Series at 1-1, Statcast™ tracked impressive plays from a few of those rookies. Chicago's Addison Russell sparkled at shortstop, while St. Louis' Randal Grichuk and New York's Michael Conforto both struck impressive blows with the bat.
Here is a look at Statcast™'s best from Saturday's postseason action.
Russell's diving play
After the Cubs took a 5-1 lead with a five-run top of the second, Russell helped Kyle Hendricks keep the Cardinals off the board in the bottom of the frame. When Jhonny Peralta led off with a rocket to the left side of the infield, it looked as if St. Louis would get a runner aboard, but Russell took his first step to his right almost instantaneously (0.07 seconds), quickly covered 11.5 feet and snared the one-hopper with a full-extension dive. He then hopped to his feet on the outfield grass and made the 100-foot throw to first at 77.5 mph, in plenty of time for the out. Hendricks went on to retire the side in order.
Cardinals go back to back
All of St. Louis' offense came on a trio of solo homers, including back-to-back shots off Hendricks with two outs in the fifth inning. Kolten Wong got things started by connecting on a changeup at 105.9 mph and driving it a projected 412 feet to the back of the right-field bullpen. It was Wong's fourth-longest homer of the season, and his second-fastest exit velocity on a homer.
Three pitches later, Grichuk jumped all over a hanging curve at 109.5 mph, his seventh-fastest exit velocity on any ball this season. The result was a majestic blast that peaked at 124 feet, Grichuk's second-highest homer of the year. It soared a personal-best 444 feet, over the left-field bullpen and almost to the Busch Stadium concourse.
Conforto leaves yard in a flash
Two outs after Yoenis Cespedes' leadoff home run provided the Mets with a 1-0 second-inning lead, Conforto stepped in against Zack Greinke. On a 2-1 count, Conforto got a 92.7-mph fastball over the middle and ripped it at a blistering 113.5 mph off the right-field foul pole.
That was the third-fastest exit velocity recorded by a Mets hitter on a homer this season, behind only Lucas Duda (114.1 mph on Sept. 26) and Conforto himself (115.0 mph on Sept. 15). The screaming line drive traveled a projected distance of just 346 feet but also peaked a mere 42 feet off the ground and stayed in the air for barely more than 3 seconds.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.