After the Brewers lost a heartbreaker in Milwaukee on Saturday, the series shifted to Los Angeles for Games 3, 4 and 5. To secure a chance for a Game 6 at Miller Park, the Brewers needed to win at least one game in Los Angeles. After a stressful game that went down to the wire, Milwaukee pulled out another win. Here’s how it all went down.
After leadoff hitter, Lorenzo Cain, struck out to the 98 mph heat throwing starter of Walker Buehler, it looked to be a tough day for the crew. NL MVP favorite, Christian Yelich, started his at-bat down 1-2. Yelich’s first plate appearance looked grim, as the Milwaukee slugger has been struggling with a .180 post season average. However, like most of the regular season, Yelich worked the Pitcher and took three straight balls to walk. Next batter up, Ryan Braun, smashed a double down the left field line on a 1-1 count, reaching second base and scoring Yelich, giving the Brewers a 1-0 lead. Travis Shaw would strikeout looking and Jesus Aguilar would strikeout swinging to end the inning.
Jhoulys Chacin looked for redemption in Dodger Stadium as his last start against Los Angeles resulted in an early 5th inning exit. In the 21-5 loss in July, Chacin gave up five hits, eight earned runs, three home runs, and three walks. Unfortunately for Chacin, he would face three of the most fearsome hitters to start off a game. However, as the Brewers ace, Chacin was dialed in from the get go. In 15 first inning pitches, Jhoulys struck out Joc Pederson and Max Muncy, while finishing Justin Turner with a groundout to shortstop.
Buehler really started to groove in his pitching after giving up one run in the first inning. He would strikeout Mike Moustakas and Erik Kratz in back to back plate appearances. After Orlando Arcia reached on an error by shortstop Manny Machado (It should’ve been a hit), Buehler would finish off Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin with a flyout to the second baseman, Kike Hernandez.
Jhoulys’ night wouldn’t get any easier as he would have to face the red hot Manny Machado. In a 2-1 hitters count, Machado ripped a lead off single to left field. Struggling Center Fielder, Cody Bellinger would ground out into a fielder’s choice to the shortstop in which Machado looked to interfere. Brewers Manager, Craig Counsell, argued with the umpires, but after discussion there was no review. In the next at-bat, Yasiel Puig doubled to left sending Machado to third base. With two runners in scoring position (RISP), Catcher Yasmani Grandal would strikeout looking. Manager Craig Counsell would then intentionally walk the eight hole hitter, Kike Hernandez, in effort to face the Pitcher, Walker Buehler. After working a 2-2 count, Buehler would strikeout looking, leaving two RISP.
Even though the Brewers started the third inning with the top of their order, Walker Buehler would go three up, three down. Lorenzo Cain would line out to centerfield and Christian Yelich would groundout to the shortstop. Buehler then struckout Ryan Braun finishing the inning with only 13 pitches.
Just like Buehler, Chacin would start to groove in the crucial Game 3. Jhoulys faced the top of the Dodgers order making Pederson groundout to shortstop, Muncy fly out to left field and Turner ground out to third base.
Buehler would surrender one base runner and 17 pitches in the fourth inning, but remained strong. Travis Shaw would groundout to first and Jesus Aguilar would groundout to second. After giving up a single to Mike Moustakas, Buehler would get Erik Kratz to fly out to second base.
Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado would walk on five pitches, leaving Cody Bellinger a chance to yet again tie the game. After what seemed to be a fielder’s choice from first to second base, Counsell wanted to review Machado’s slide into shortstop Orlando Arcia. After review, it was found that Machado intentionally slid out of the base path and grabbed Arcia, to prevent the double play. Head umpire, Gerry Davis, would rule both Machado and Bellinger out, resulting in a 3-6-1 double play. Killing all momentum the Dodgers had, Yasiel Puig would groundout to Mike Moustakas to end the inning.
Buehler really started to stroll along getting nine of his last ten batters out. Orlando Arcia and Jhoulys Chacin would both strikeout, as leadoff hitter, Lorenzo Cain, would groundout to second base.
Chacin would start off shaky in the fifth inning giving up a double to the Brewers NLCS MVP, Yasmani Grandal. However, in the next at-bat Jhoulys would get a key flyout to left from Kike Hernandez. Dodgers Manager, Dave Roberts, would now have to face the decision of keeping in his best Pitcher, or pinch-hitting him to tie the game with a RISP. Roberts would stick with Buehler who eventually struck out looking. With two outs, Joc Pederson would fly out to centerfield leaving yet another RISP.
Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun would both groundout to Manny Machado to start the beginning of the sixth inning. However, Travis Shaw would finally catch a piece of Buehler, tripling to deep right center field. After a wild pitch got passed the Brewers MVP, Yasmani Grandal, Travis Shaw scored. Jesus Aguilar would groundout to third base to end the inning with a two run Milwaukee lead.
After Starting Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin got Max Muncy to strikeout swinging, he would run into trouble against Justin Turner. A hard hit ball to Mike Moustakas lead to a throwing error giving Turner second base. With only a two run lead, Counsell went to his trusted relief pitcher, Corey Knebel. On the first pitch, Knebel would get Manny Machado to ground out to third base, Turner at second. With two outs in a close game, Knebel would get Cody Bellinger to strike out with a RISP.
After Mike Moustakas grounded out to second base to lead off the seventh inning, Buehler was in for a rude awakening. Veteran Catcher, Erik Kratz, unleashed a double to left field on the first pitch. With Kratz in scoring position, Mr. October took over. Arcia, who is now on a 12 game hitting streak, took advantage of the tired pitcher. Arcia launched a two run home run to opposite field, giving the Brewers a four run advantage. After a double switch by Craig Counsell to strengthen defense, Hernan Perez was due to hit. Perez would fly out to right field and Cain would fly out to center field to end the inning. After giving up four runs, and his spot coming up in the order, Buehler would exit the game.
Yet again, Knebel would finish his night strong. Knebel would Strike out the side of hitters Puig, Grandal and Hernandez on 13 pitches. Corey would finish with 19 pitches on the night, leaving him a chance to be available for Game 4 if needed.
The Brewers would threaten to score in the eighth inning but wouldn’t score. Yelich would lead off with a bunt single down the third baseline. After Ryan Braun hit a “Texas-leaguer” in front of Right Fielder Yasiel Puig, Yelich was thrown out at second base. Though Ryan Braun seemed mad at the moment, Yelich thought there was a chance of getting doubled up at first. (Rather be safe than sorry on the base paths.) After tripling in the sixth inning, Travis Shaw would strikeout, leaving two outs for pinch-hitter Domingo Santana. In the regular season as a pinch-hitter, Santana hit a cool 12-for-29 (.413). Keeping this in mind with a RISP, Dave Roberts intentionally walked Santana. Roberts move would prove to work as Moustakas would fly out to right field, ending the eighth inning.
Trying not to use Josh Hader right away, Counsell called Joakim Soria to pitch. After throwing just four pitches, Chris Taylor would fly out to the first basemen to secure one out in the eighth. With the top of the order coming up, Counsell again called the bullpen to get LHP Josh Hader to finish the job. Even though Roberts would switch out Pederson and Muncy for Freese and Kemp, the Dodgers would be no match for Haderade. Only throwing eight pitches total, Josh Hader struck out both hitters leading the Brewers to the ninth inning.
Heading into the ninth inning, Counsell hoped to get some insurance runs for his Closer. Erik Kratz would lead off the inning with a walk but a fielder’s choice by Arcia would lead to an out. Perez would rip a single to left field advancing Arcia to second base. While Cain attempted to score both Arcia and Perez on a 2-2 hit and run, the center fielder struck out. Without making contact, Cain left Perez caught stealing, and ending the hopeful ninth inning.
Feeling confident in the four run lead and wanting to save Hader for possible use in Game 5, Counsell left the LHP on the bench. Enter Jeremy Jeffress. While being absolutely dominant in the regular season with an 8-1 record, 15 saves and a 1.29 ERA, Jeffress has been anything but that in the playoffs. After blowing two saves (Game 1 NLDS/Game 2 NLCS), Counsell went to Jeffress out of the pen to boost his confidence. While being rattled right away from a single by Justin Turner up the middle, it got worse. Manny Machado would smash a double down the right field line, putting two RISP. Luckily, Jeffress would settle down and get an out from Cody Bellinger. Bellinger would pop up to the shortstop giving the Brewers one out. Jeffress would then walk Puig on four straight pitches leaving Counsell to call to the bullpen to start warming up Junior Guerra. However, Jeffress would get three straight strikes against guess who? Brewers NLCS MVP, Yasmani Grandal. (Love that guy). With the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning, all pressure was on JJ to perform. On a 1-2 count, Jeffress blew a 96 mph fastball passed Brian Dozier to lead the Brewers to a 4-0 victory over the Dodgers.
After Monday’s win, the Brewers take a 2-1 lead in the NLCS. This win secures the chance for the Brewers to come back to Milwaukee for Game 6, if needed. Game 4 will be held in Los Angeles at 8:09 CST. Gio Gonzalez will lead the Brewers into what seems to be another bullpen game.