Western Courier

Dodgers and Brewers clash in the NLCS

Christopher Bean, Sports Writer

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It’s early October and that means Halloween is right around the corner but most importantly, the MLB playoffs have started.

Only 10 out of the 30 teams make the MLB playoffs. Four wild card teams, two from the American League and two from the National League. The Colorado Rockies beat the Chicago Cubs in 13 innings, 2-1 on the road setting up a date with the Milwaukee Brewers, and the New York Yankees beat the Oakland A’s 7-2 at home forcing them to play their heated rival the Boston Red Sox.

Three of the four series have finished as the Astros swept the Indians in the AL (American League), the Brewers swept the Rockies on Sunday, and the Dodgers beat the Braves in four games on Monday night to set up a date with the Brewers in the NLCS. Let’s see how both teams took care of business in the first round.

After the first two wild card games, the Divisional round officially started last Thursday. The first series started in Milwaukee as the top seed in the NL (National League), as the Milwaukee Brewers took on the Colorado Rockies. The Brew Crew got on the scoreboard thanks to the future 2018 MLB NL MVP Christian Yelich’s two-run homerun in the bottom of the third scoring Lorenzo Cain from first.

On the defensive side, manager Craig Counsell decided to start with his bullpen and gave the ball to Brandon Woodruff. Woodruff was spectacular facing the minimum through three innings and only allowing one walk.

Corbin Burnes, Corey Knebel, and Josh Hader dominated the next five innings only allowing one hit and one walk, pitching shutout baseball.

Jeremy Jeffress relieved Josh Hader in the top of the ninth to close out the game. That didn’t go as planned as Jeffress gave up three hits in-a-row and the third hit came off the bat of Charlie Blackmon scoring the first run of the game.

After an error by Orlando Arcia, it was bases loaded no outs with MVP candidate Nolan Arenado up to bat. He flew out to center field driving in the game tying run. Jeffress bared down and got the next two outs to send it to the bottom of the ninth.

The Brewers went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth sending the first game of the Divisional series into extra innings. Joakim Soria replaced Jeremy Jeffress in the top of the tenth and went 1-2-3 in the top of the inning.

Yelich led the bottom half with a walk. Braun struck out swinging but not before Yelich went to second after a wild pitch. Manager Bub Black decided to intentionally walk Travis Shaw putting runners on first and second with only one out.

Curtis Granderson came in to pitch hit and grounded out into a fielder’s choice putting the runners on the corners with two outs. Next up was former World Series champion Mike Moustakas. “Moose” quickly fell down in the count 0-2. After fouling off the first 0-2 pitch, Mike ripped it to right field scoring the future MVP to end the game.

The rest of the series is history as the Brewers pitching completely confused every Rockies batter that stepped into the batter box. They only gave up 10 more hits in the last two games of the series and shut out the Rockies in both games wining 4-0 and 6-0.

The Brew Crew advances to the Pennant for the first time since 2011. The saying, “Great pitching beats great hitting” fits the Brewers pitching staff perfectly as they proved it in their sweep. If they continue to pitch like this, they might not lose another game.

In game one in the other series in the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted the young and talented Altana Braves last Thursday night. Both teams committed one error and the Braves had six hits to the Dodgers five, but the Dodgers executed better on offense thanks to three homeruns.

Starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu did not disappoint in seven innings of work and only allowing four hits with eight strikeouts in the 6-0 win. The Dodgers carried their momentum into game two with ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound.

After Ronald Acuna Jr.’s leadoff double, Kershaw retired 14 in-a-row. The Dodgers scored in the first for the second game in-a-row thanks to a two-run homer from superstar shortstop Manny Machado. Yasmani Grandal hit a homerun himself making it 3-0 Los Angeles.

That’s all Kershaw needed as he dominated the Braves on only 85 pitches in eight innings. The Braves were down 2-0 heading into game three, but that didn’t faze them as they put up a five spot in the bottom of the second thanks to an Acuna Jr. grand-slam.

The Dodgers didn’t give up answering right back with two in the third to cut the lead to three. The Dodgers continued to hit long balls when Chris Taylor cut it to one on a two-run homerun. Two batters later Max Muncy hit a 415 feet homerun to tie the game at five in the fifth.

Veteran Freddie Freeman took Alex Wood deep on the first pitch in the sixth inning to give the Braves the lead again. They would hold onto the lead going the ninth for Arodys Vizcaino to close it out.

It did not go as planned giving up a leadoff single to Joc Pederson and walked Justin Turner putting runners at first and second with no outs.

Vizcaino fell behind Max Muncy 3-0 with Machado on deck. Vizcaino threw three strikes in-a-row to get the much needed first out. He struck out Machado and Dozier to strike out the side to end the game in dramatic form.

Unfortunately for the Braves that was the only game they would win in the playoffs as the Dodgers scored five runs combined in the sixth and seventh inning to come from behind and win 6-2. Clayton Kershaw is known for struggling in the playoffs, but Friday night he proved why he’s one of the best pitchers in his era. If he continues to pitch like he did, it will be tough to score one run on him.

The National League Championship Series gets under way on Friday night in Milwaukee. It’s first to four in a seven games series with a 2-3-2 format, meaning two games in Milwaukee, three in Los Angeles and back for two in Milwaukee if need be. Los Angeles appears in its third straight Pennant and are the defending NL Champs. The Brewers have the best bull pen in the league and have the MVP. Both teams come in with a lot of momentum, but something will have to give as only one team will advance to the Fall Classic

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Dodgers and Brewers clash in the NLCS