The Rundown: Brewers Take Game 1, Counsell Depletes Bullpen, Deluge of Bryce Harper Rumors

Relief pitcher and unlikely hero Brandon Woodruff got the win and homered while Clayton Kershaw seemed awfully pedestrian. The Dodgers committed four errors — not to mention a costly play by Manny Machado — and Craig Counsell burned through his bullpen to hold off a late Los Angeles rally as Milwaukee took Game 1 of the NLCS, 6-5. Welcome to league championship baseball.

Kershaw can be as dominant as any pitcher in baseball, but he has been inconsistent throughout his career in the playoffs. And though he was far from the only Dodger to disappoint last night — Justin Turner was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and Yasmani Grandal had two errors and two passed balls —  Kershaw started a very winnable road matchup against Gio Gonzalez and bombed. He was chased before he could retire a single batter in the fourth inning.

“It was a tough one,” said the Dodgers ace, who needed 74 pitches to get through three-plus innings. “Obviously, you don’t want to get your team off to that start. But it happened.”

The nine-out appearance was the shortest postseason start of Kershaw’s career and brought heartbreak for Los Angeles fans. The left-hander had a 4.65 ERA in 10 career playoff appearances, including seven starts, going into last night’s game.

“I just think it was poor execution,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I thought the stuff was good. But he made mistakes in the strike zone, and defensively, we didn’t do him any favors.”

Playoff News & Notes

  • According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Dodgers’ Grandal is the first catcher in postseason history to have two passed balls and two errors in the same game. In fact, only two catchers in the last 20 years have had two errors and two passed balls in a regular-season game. That would be Cameron Rupp in 2017 and Pat Borders in 1999.
  • Gonzalez started, but it was basically a bullpen game for manager Craig Counsell. Gonzalez pitched two innings before the Brewers skipper turned it over to his bullpen. Six Brewers relievers threw 132 pitches before Corey Knebel ended the game by striking out Justin Turner.
  • The Brewers notched their 12th straight win, one shy of the franchise record set to open the 1987 season, and earned free hamburgers for their fans.
  • Kershaw followed up the most dominating playoff performance of his career, pitching eight shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLCS, with his worst.
  • According to MLB Stat of the Day, Woodruff was the first left-handed-hitting pitcher to homer in the postseason since Rick Sutcliffe did it for the Cubs in 1984. And if you’re thinking about Travis Wood, who went deep while pitching in relief during Game 2 of the 2016 NLDS, recall that the southpaw pitcher actually batted righty.

  • Game two of the NLCS will be played Saturday afternoon in at Miller Park in Milwaukee. Wade Miley will take the mound for the Brewers while the Dodgers will counter with Hyun-Jin Ryu. The first pitch is scheduled for 3:09 PM and will be televised on FOX.
  • The Astros and Red Sox kick off Game 1 of the ALCS this evening at Fenway Park in Boston. First pitch is scheduled for 7:09 PM and will be broadcast on TBS. Chris Sale will face Justin Verlander in the opener.

Cubs News & Notes

Evan Altman breaks down six potential prospects to fill the Cubs hitting coach vacancy, including David Ross.

Robert Kuenster of Forbes Magazine offers his Cubs offseason to-do list so that the team can find its missing swagger:

  1. Fix relievers Justin Wilson and Carl Edwards Jr., who both have explosive arms but lack the ability or confidence to get key outs.
  2. Bring in a new closer so that Pedro Strop can manage the 7th inning while Brandon Morrow handles 8th inning chores.
  3. Find an everyday leadoff hitter.
  4. Sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.
  5. Replace the leadership Ross brought to the 2016 team that has been missing since.

Perhaps the Cubs and Joe Maddon need to reinforce “Do Simple Better” to get back to winning playoff baseball in 2019.

The 2018 Brewers seem an awful lot like the 2016 Cubs. Well, except for their starting pitching.

Brandon Hyde, who interviewed for the managerial position with the Rangers, is also being considered by the Angels for their opening. The Cubs’ bench coach is a product of Long Beach State and is one of 10 candidates under consideration for the job.

Extra Innings aka Bryce Harper News & Notes

The “Bryce Harper would be a great fit for us!” stories are starting to pour in and the offseason hasn’t even officially started yet. I’ll take a look at the sweepstakes on a regular basis until he signs somewhere. In the meantime, prepare yourself for the deluge…

They Said It

  • “Once I knew it was gone, it was just one of those kind of moments where you’re not really thinking. I was just letting some emotion out. It was a cool moment, and I was happy that I could just go out there and do it for the team.” – Brandon Woodruff
  • “I threw [Hader] out there because he was throwing the ball really well. I thought once he had two innings he was [done] for tomorrow anyway, and so he’s got two days off now and he’ll be ready to go again.” – Craig Counsell

Saturday Walk Up Song

Into the Great Wide Open by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Imagine knowing you are possibly just a few weeks away from signing the richest contract in the history of baseball.

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