2018 National League Championship Series

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2018 National League Championship Series
Los Angeles Dodgers logo
2018 National League Championship Series logo
Milwaukee Brewers logo
Los Angeles Dodgers
92 - 71 in the NL
4 - 3
Series Summary
Milwaukee Brewers
96 - 67 in the NL

Overview[edit]

The 2018 National League Championship Series featured an unprecedented postseason match-up between the defending National League champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the holders of the best regular-season record in the league, the Milwaukee Brewers. Both teams had had to win a one-game playoff to secure their division titles, however, an indication that it had not been an easy ride to this moment. The Dodgers were favorites coming into the series, thanks to their greater postseason experience and their deeper roster - at least on paper. This was most obvious in the case of the starting pitchers, as the Dodgers were deep in options, while the Brewers would have to be creative to match up with them.

In the end, the Dodgers did prevail, but not before the Brewers had put up a good fight. It was indeed a highly creative approach to pitching that manager Craig Counsell used, including using one starting pitcher as a decoy for just one batter, twice taking out a starter after just two innings, and another time having to go to the bullpen early because of an injury, resulting in his bullpen doing yeoman's work. The Dodgers had set a franchise record for homers in the regular season, but it was not until the decisive Game 7 that they managed to rely on the long ball to knock out the Brewers in what was a tightly fought and highly entertaining series that went down to the wire.

The Teams[edit]

Brewers

Dodgers

Umpires[edit]

Greg Gibson was the replay umpire for the first two games, then switched places with Barry for Game 3.

Series results[edit]

Game Score Date Pitchers Time (ET)
1 Los Angeles Dodgers 5 Milwaukee Brewers 6 October 12 Clayton Kershaw (0-1) Gio Gonzalez (0-0) 8:09 pm
2 Los Angeles Dodgers 4 Milwaukee Brewers 3 October 13 Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-0) Wade Miley (0-0) 4:09 pm
3 Milwaukee Brewers 4 Los Angeles Dodgers 0 October 15 Jhoulys Chacin (1-0) Walker Buehler (0-1) 7:39 pm
4 Milwaukee Brewers 1 Los Angeles Dodgers 2 October 16 Gio Gonzalez (0-0) Rich Hill (0-0) 9:09 pm
5 Milwaukee Brewers 2 Los Angeles Dodgers 5 October 17 Wade Miley (0-0) Clayton Kershaw (1-1) 5:05 pm
6 Los Angeles Dodgers 2 Milwaukee Brewers 7 October 19 Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-1) Wade Miley (0-0) 8:39 pm
7 Los Angeles Dodgers 5 Milwaukee Brewers 1 October 20 Walker Buehler (0-1) Jhoulys Chacin (1-1) 8:09 pm

Results[edit]

Game 1 @ Miller Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Dodgers 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 5 8 4
Brewers 0 0 2 3 0 0 1 0 x 6 11 0
WP: Brandon Woodruff (1-0); LP: Clayton Kershaw (0-1); SV: Corey Knebel (1)
Home Runs: LA - Manny Machado (1); MIL - Brandon Woodruff (1), Jesus Aguilar (1)
  • Attendance: 43,615

The Brewers won Game 1 thanks to a home run from an unexpected source and a defensive breakdown from the Dodgers. Two veterans were on the mound, Clayton Kershaw for Los Angeles and Gio Gonzalez for Milwaukee, but neither lasted very long. Gonzalez retired the Dodgers in order in the 1st, then Lorenzo Cain led off the bottom of the inning with a single. C Yasmani Grandal then allowed a passed ball, the first mistake of what would be a horrendous game for him on defence. With Cain on second and nobody out, the Brewers were unable to cash in, though, as Christian Yelich struck out after a long at-bat and neither of the next two batters were able to advance him any further. Manny Machado then led off the bottom of the 2nd with a homer off Gonzalez, then Kiké Hernandez drew a one-out walk. Clay Bellinger was up next, and he thought he had hit a two-run homer, but the ball stayed in the park as Yelich caught it at the warning track in right field. Gonzalez then retired Grandal on a ground ball, but it seems that manager Craig Counsell had already seen enough, as he made plans to take him out of the game.

In the bottom of the 2nd, Kershaw allowed just a two-out single, but the Brewers already had a potential pinch-hitter for Gonzalez in the on-deck circle when Orlando Arcia made the last out. Brandon Woodruff came in to pitch the 3rd and retired the Dodgers in order. It seemed likely that he would be replaced by a pinch-hitter as he was the lead batter in the bottom of the 3rd, but Counsell send him to bat, and Woodruff surprised everyone, including himself, by connecting on a fastball and driving it solidly to center for a no-doubt homer. The game was tied, and Kershaw seemd to be rattled, as he wasn't himself after that blow. Cain followed with a single and Yelich with a walk. After one out, Grandal allowed his second passed ball of the game, and both runners moved 90 feet. Jesus Aguilar then apparently lined out to first base on a nice play by David Freese, but Grandal had committed catcher's interference, so the out was nullified and the bases were loaded. Hernan Perez then hit a fly ball to center; Cain scored to put the Brewers ahead, and Grandal dropped CF Bellinger's home for his second error of the inning, allowing the two other runners to advance. However, Kershaw managed to escape further damage by striking out Mike Moustakas, but the Dodgers were down 2-1 and taking on water.

After Woodruff struck out the side in the 3rd, the Brewers put the finishing blows on Kershaw. Manny Pina drew a lead-off walk then Arcia singled to left, where Chris Taylor misplayed the ball for the Dodgers' third error in two innings, putting the runners on second and third. While Woodruff had made a good Babe Ruth imitation the previous inning, Counsell sent in a pinch-hitter for him this time, and Domingo Santana singled to left, scoring both runners. That was it for Kershaw. Ryan Madson came in to pitch and after one out, Santana was called out on a caught stealing, but the decision was overturned after a video review. With two outs, Ryan Braun singled to right and Santana scored to make it 5-1. Counsell then asked his best reliever all season to come in to pitch, and Josh Hader was outstanding, reeling off three solid innings, allowing just a pair of singles, while the Brewers could not add to their lead. Thus, in the middle of the 7th, it was still 5-1. Young Julio Urias, just activated for the series, came in to pitch for Los Angeles and was greeted by Aguilar who homered to right to make the score 6-1. That insurance run would prove to be crucial, although it did not look that way at the time.

With two innings to go and a five-run lead, Counsell deviated from his pattern so far this postseason and used one of his "lesser" pitchers in the 8th, calling on Xavier Cedeno. Grandal greeted him with a single but was forced out by Joc Pederson. Counsell then asked Joakim Soria to face Taylor, who singled, but Justin Turner struck out for the second out. Max Muncy then drew a walk to load the bases and Counsell made another pitching change, bringing in closer Jeremy Jeffress in a double switch. He allowed back-to-back singles to Machado and Matt Kemp, scoring all three inherited runners to make the score 6-4. Dave Roberts then called on Yasiel Puig to pinch-hit for Urias, but he struck out to end a nervous inning. The Brewers still needed to get three outs, and it was Corey Knebel who was asked to get them in the 9th. Bellinger appeared to reach on an infield single to third, but the call was overturned, a big break for Milwaukee, as Pederson walked after a second out. Taylor was up next and tripled off Cain's glove in center field, making the score 6-5 and putting the tying run 90 feet away. However, Knebel managed to strike out Turner to end the game. The end had been stressful, but the Brewers were up, one game to none.

Game 2 @ Miller Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Dodgers 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 4 9 0
Brewers 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 3 7 0
WP: Pedro Baez (1-0); LP: Jeremy Jeffress (0-1); SV: Kenley Jansen (1)
Home Runs: MIL - Orlando Arcia (1), Travis Shaw (1); LA - Justin Turner (1)
  • Attendance: 43,905

Los Angeles won Game 2 by mounting a comeback from a 3-0 deficit against Milwaukee's bullpen. It was another battle of lefthanders on the mound, with Wade Miley facing Hyun-Jin Ryu, while the Dodgers had made one change in the line-up, replacing C Yasmani Grandal with Austin Barnes. The Dodgers almost got off to a great start against Miley, as Justin Turner singled with one out and the next batter, David Freese, hit a ball to deep center that was destined to be a home run until CF Lorenzo Cain leapt up and snatched the ball from behind the fence, robbing Freese of a homer. That was a key turning point, as after that, Miley did not allow another baserunner until the 6th inning. Ryu also started strong, as he allowed only three hits through the first four innings, one of them a one-out double by Miley in the 3rd.

The Brewers struck first in the bottom of the 5th when Orlando Arcia homered with one out. He was followed by Miley who hit a single this time, followed by a double by Cain. A faster runner could perhaps have scored, but the Brewers now had runners on second and third with one out. Ryan Madson replaced Ryu and sent Christian Yelich to first with an intentional walk, loading the bases. The next batter, Ryan Braun, hit a slow bouncer to shortstop, where Manny Machado's only play was to throw to first base, allowing Miley to score a second run. In the 6th, Miley allowed a two-out single to Chris Taylor, breaking a string of 16 straight batters retired. That was the cue for manager Craig Counsell to pull off a double switch, bringing in Hernan Perez and Corbin Burnes, while removing Miley and 1B Jesus Aguilar. Burnes then struck out Turner for the third out. Alex Wood came to pitch for the Dodgers, but after one out he gave up a homer to Travis Shaw, and it was 3-0. Dylan Floro finished the inning.

At that point, Milwaukee had a nice lead, but still needed to hold off the Dodgers for three more innings, with a bullpen that had been heavily used the night before. It came under stress immediately as Burnes walked pinch-hitter Max Muncy and allowed a single to Machado. Cody Bellinger then singled up the middle to drive in a first run. There was still nobody out and Jeremy Jeffress came in to face another pinch-hitter, Joc Pederson, who dropped another single, loading the bases. Jeffress managed to strike out Yasiel Puig for the first out, but then walked Barnes to force in a run. Dave Roberts used his last available position player, Grandal, to bat for Floro but he grounded into an inning-ending double play, much to Roberts' dismay. Baez was L.A.'s next pitcher, and he worked around a walk to Cain to deliver a scoreless 7th. Counsell decided to leave Jeffress for a second inning of work, but immediately regretted his decision as Taylor singled and Turner followed with a homer to left, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 lead. Corey Knebel came to pitch and was helped by a double play grounder as he prevented the Dodgers from adding to their lead. Indeed, there would be a lot of baserunners over the last five turns at bat, and a lot of pitching changes, but no more runs. The Brewers turned another twin killing in the 9th, the Dodgers used three different pitchers in the bottom of the 8th while the Brewers used two in the top of the 9th. Kenley Jansen then came out to pitch the bottom of the 9th. He walked Perez with one out, but then struck out Cain, and while Perez stole second base uncontested with two outs, Jansen got Yelich to hit a soft grounder to third to end the game. The two teams headed to the West Coast tied at one win apiece.

Game 3 @ Dodger Stadium[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Brewers 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 4 7 1
Dodgers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1
WP: Jhoulys Chacin (1-0) ; LP: Walker Buehler (0-1)
Home Runs: MIL - Orlando Arcia (2)
  • Attendance: 52,793

The Brewers won Game 3 at Dodger Stadium thanks to another strong performance by a starting pitcher, this time Jhoulys Chacin, aided by four relievers who all made short stints, saving them to be used again in the next two games. For the Dodgers, rookie Walker Buehler pitched 7 innings and struck out 8 while walking only one, but he gave up a couple of untimely hits which led to 4 runs and saddled him with a loss.

Milwaukee started off strong as Christian Yelich, an on-base machine since the start of the postseason thanks to copious walks, drew another one, and immediately scored when Ryan Braun followed with a double to left. That was the only scoring through the first five innings, as Buehler was excellent after that early glitch. The Dodgers threatened in the 2nd when Manny Machado led off with a single and was forced at second by Cody Bellinger before Yasiel Puig hit a double to left. But Chacin recovered by striking out Yasmani Grandal and Buehler, sadwiched around an intentional walk to Kiké Hernandez. In the 4th, Machado drew a lead-off walk, but in trying to break up a potential double play, he hooked SS Orlando Arcia and was called out for interference after a video review, wiping out Bellinger as well. Grandal then led off the 5th with a double but was stranded there when the three batters who followed him were unable to move him; that included Buehler, who was allowed to bat for himself and struck out.

The Brewers doubled their lead in the 6th when Travis Shaw hit a ball to the wall in center with two outs, which Bellinger appeared to misjudge. The ball bounced away from him allowing Shaw to run all the way to third base. He then scored moments later when one of Buehler's pitches got away from Grandal in a flashback to Game 1. Then in the 7th, Erik Kratz doubled with one out and Orlando Arcia followed with a homer to right, his third of the postseason, making the score 4-0. Before that, the Dodgers had stranded another runner in scoring position in the bottom of the 6th when Justin Turner made it to second on a throwing error by 3B Mike Moustakas with one out. This motivated manager Craig Counsell to pull a double switch, bringing in Corey Knebel to pitch. On his first pitch, Machado hit a sharp grounder to Moustakas, who made a nice play, holding Turner on second and throwing out Machado; Knebel then struck out Bellinger to end the inning. In the 7th, he struck out the side, further diminishing L.A.'s hopes. Even better for Milwaukee, Knebel had needed just 19 pitches to record those five outs, and Counsell made sure that no other reliever who followed threw much more than that. Joakim Soria and Josh Hader took care of the 8th, then Jeremy Jeffress came out for the 9th, even though he had been hit hard in his previous outings since the start of the postseason. He made things interesting again by allowing a single to Turner and a double to Machado to start things off, then got Bellinger to pop out before walking Puig to load the bases. However, Grandal and pinch-hitter Brian Dozier both went down on strikes, ending the game.

Game 4 @ Dodger Stadium[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 R H E
Brewers 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 0
Dodgers 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 7 0
WP: Julio Urias (1-0); LP: Junior Guerra (0-1)
Home Runs: none
  • Attendance: 53,764

Game 4 was a protracted affair that required 13 innings and over five hours to determine a winner, with the Dodgers eventually coming out on top of the arm wrestling match with a 2-1 win. It was an exhausting affair for both bullpens, as the Brewers had to remove starter Gio Gonzalez after just a few pitches in the 2nd inning following an ankle injury, while the Dodgers used eight different relievers after starter Rich Hill gave them five innings of work. With a lefthander on the mound, the Brewers replaced Travis Shaw with Jonathan Schoop at second base, while the Dodgers replaced the struggling Yasmani Grandal with Austin Barnes at catcher.

The Dodgers scored in the 1st inning against Gonzalez with Chris Taylor drawing a lead-off walk and moving to second on a ground ball. David Freese was hit by a pitch on what would otherwise had been ball four, then after a second out, Brian Dozier hit a single to left to score Taylor. It looked like the Dodgers were off to the races, but in fact they would not score again until the 13th! The Brewers stranded a couple of baserunners in the 2nd, then in the bottom of the inning, Yasiel Puig hit a high bouncer towards the mound. Gonzalez jumped to deflect the ball, but landed awkwardly, twisting his left ankle resulting in an infield single for Puig. Gonzalez tried to continue, but after one pitch to Barnes, it was clear he could not, and Craig Counsell had to call on young Freddy Peralta for a stint of long relief. He completed the walk to Barnes, but Hill was unable to get down a good bunt, allowing the Brewers to force out Puig at third base. Peralta then struck out Taylor but walked Justin Turner to load the bases. This was already a critical juncture in the game, so [[Dave Roberts (roberda07)|] decided to call on Max Muncy to pinch-hit for Freese. Peralta struck him out, keeping Milwaukee in the game.

Peralta settled down after those early jitters, while Hill continued to pitch well and there was no more scoring until the 5th. Orlando Arcia singled with one out and Domingo Santana pinch-hit for Peralta. It was a good move as he doubled to right, allowing Arcia to score and tie the game. That score would hold for a long, long time. The parade of relievers then began in earnest, as neither manager wanted to ask his moundsmen to make too long a stint, in fear of losing them until a possible Game 6. As a result, for the Brewers, four relievers succeeded Peralta, with only Corbin Burnes going two innings, the other three pitching just one. For the Dodgers it was even more radical as they would use no less than eight relief pitchers over the next eight innings, with two of them only pitching a third of a inning and only closer Kenley Jansen going as many as two full frames. All of these pitchers shut down the opposition.

As the game moved into extra innings, however, Counsell changed tacks, as he asked Junior Guerra, normally a starting pitcher, to go as long as he could. This worked beautifully for a spell as he kept the Dodgers from scoring in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings. But since his teammates were not scoring any runs either, something would eventually have to give. Young Julio Urias was called to pitch the 13th for Los Angeles, and he was just about the last reliever available (all bench players had been used up too). He allowed a one-out single to Ryan Braun, but left him stranded. Guerra then began his fourth inning of work. After one out, he allowed a single to Manny Machado then got Dozier to pop up for the second out. However, facing Cody Bellinger, he threw a wild pitch that barely eluded catcher Erik Kratz, but Machado made it to second. Guerra almost picked off Machado at second, but Bellinger followed with a single to right, ending the game as Machado slid home under Christian Yelich's throw.

Game 5 @ Dodger Stadium[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Brewers 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 5 1
Dodgers 0 0 0 0 1 2 2 0 x 5 9 0
WP: Clayton Kershaw (1-1); LP: Brandon Woodruff (1-1); SV: Kenley Jansen (2)
Home Runs: none
  • Attendance:

In Game 5, Milwaukee's Craig Counsell used a strategy straight out of the 1924 World Series and Curly Ogden, as his starting pitcher, Wade Miley was but a front for the real starter, Brandon Woodruff. The Dodgers started a line-up loaded with righthanders against the lefty Miley, and then had to scramble when the righty Woodruff replaced him after just one out. The strategy worked in that the Dodgers only scored once in the first five innings, but it would have worked even better if the Dodgers' starter, Clayton Kershaw, had not been having one of his really good days, also limiting the Brewers to one run, but through seven full innings.

There was a video review on the first ball in play of the game, as Cody Bellinger attempted a diving catch of a sinking liner by Lorenzo Cain and apparently came up with the ball, but the replay showed that he had trapped the ball. However, Cain was unable to score and in the bottom of the inning, Counsell deployed his strategy, letting Miley face Bellinger, who had been moved up to the lead-off spot. He walked him on five pitches, then Woodruff came out to face Justin Turner, who he plunked with a pitch after Bellinger had stolen second. However, he managed to wiggle out of that early trouble as he struck out David Freese and got Manny Machado to ground into a double play. It was the Brewers who opened the scoring, doing so in the 3rd when Orlando Arcia singled with one out, Woodruff drew a walk and Cain doubled. However, Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar were unable to cash in Woodruff from third base or Cain from second as they both struck out and Milwaukee continued to strand runners in scoring position.

Woodruff was very solid until his defence betrayed him in the 5th as Chris Taylor made it to second base on an infield single compounded by a throwing error by Arcia. He then stole third base on the next pitch and after Kiké Hernandez struck out, scored on a single by Austin Barnes. Dave Roberts already had Yasiel Puig in the on-deck circle to bat for Kershaw had Barnes made an out, but after the run, he let his pitcher bat and Kershaw laid down a sacrifice bunt. While the Dodgers could not add more runs, it meant that Kershaw could continue to pitch, and he gave his manager two more solid innings. Counsell also tried to get an additional inning from Woodruff, but the youngster was probably gassed, as he had never made an outing that long during the season. In the 6th, he gave up a lead-off single to Turner then hit Machado with a pitch with one out. Max Muncy followed by pushing a ball to the opposite field to give Los Angeles a 2-1 lead. That was the end for Woodruff, who was replaced by Corbin Burnes, but the reliever allowed a single to Puig, pinch-hitting for Hernandez with two outs, and it was 3-1. In the 7th, with Joakim Soria pitching, Los Angeles added two more runs as Kershaw drew a one-out walk - he had been allowed to hit for himself given Roberts had once again made so many moves that his bench was depleted - and went to third as Bellinger doubled to center. Kershaw doubled over obviously out of breath as he reached third, but he did not have to sprint all-out again as he scored easily on Turner's single to center. Bellinger then scored run number five on a ground ball by Brian Dozier.

With a four-run lead, Roberts brought in Pedro Baez to pitch the 8th, and then Ryan Madson for the 9th. The Brewers used Zach Davies, who had just been added to the roster to take over for Gio Gonzalez who had been placed on the disabled list after Game 4. With two outs in the 9th, Aguilar and pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson hit back-to-back doubles to give Milwaukee a second run. That prompted Roberts to call on closer Kenley Jansen to record the final out, which he did by striking out Mike Moustakas. The Dodgers were now one game away from returning to the World Series.

Game 6 @ Miller Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Dodgers 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 5 0
Brewers 4 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 x 7 11 0
WP: Corey Knebel (1-0); LP: Hyun-Jin Ryu (0-1)
Home Runs: LA - David Freese (1)
  • Attendance: 43,619

The series returned to Milwaukee with Los Angeles needing just one more win to clinch, but things did not go as planned for them. Wade Miley made a second straight start, but this time he wasn't just a decoy. However, things started off badly for him as the game's first batter, David Freese, homered to center field. The crowd at Miller Park was stunned, but soon found a reason to cheer when Miley struck out Manny Machado for the second out; Machado had made himself infamous in Game 4 with his attempt to hook SS Orlando Arcia with his left hand in breaking up a double play, and then had spiked 1B Jesus Aguilar later in the game on a gratuitous and widely-condemned gesture. He was thus public enemy number one when the Dodgers took the field, and the ovation that erupted after his strikeout sent a huge buzz through the ballpark. It carried over in the bottom of the 1st when Lorenzo Cain reached on an infield single against Hyun-Jin Ryu, taking advantage of the fact Max Muncy was starting at second base in this game; he moved to second on a ground out by Christian Yelich. Ryan Braun walked and Travis Shaw struck out, then the big blow came off the bat of Aguilar, as he doubled to the right field corner, driving in both runners. That opened the floodgates as Mike Moustakas followed with a ball in just about the same spot for another double, scoring Aguilar, and Erik Kratz singled to right to make it 4-1. By now the crowd was rollicking and the Dodgers appeared stunned. They would never get back up from that early blow.

Miley, who got a chance to bat in that big 1st inning and forced CF Cody Bellinger to make a difficult running catch in deep center, allowed a couple of baserunners in the 2nd, including a single to Ryu, but ended the inning by getting Freese to pop up to first. That started a string of seven consecutive outs that would basically nail down the lid on the Dodgers' coffin. Meanwhile, the Brewers added another run in the 2nd when Yelich, who couldn't buy a base hit until then, hit a solid double to right center, and Braun did the same to make the score 5-1. Things then settled down as Miley was dealing and young Julio Urias pitched a solid 4th inning in relief of Ryu. In the 5th, Brian Dozier drew a one-out walk then scored on a double by Freese. After Miley walked the next batter, Muncy, Craig Counsell brought in a relief pitcher in Corey Knebel; he retired the next two batters, ending the Dodgers' best hope of getting back in the game.

The Dodgers then had a long list of relief pitchers come out, with Alex Wood loading the bases in the 5th but escaping by striking out Knebel. For Milwaukee, Jeremy Jeffress pitched a scoreless inning and Corbin Burnes handled the final two, neither giving up a run, whereas just about everyone available took the mound for L.A., including starter Rich Hill. Milwaukee added a couple of insurance runs in the 7th and 8th to make the final score 7-2, but the game had been well and truly won before that. The biggest excitement came every time Machado came to bat as the crowd booed him lustily while he went 0 for 4 with a couple of strikeouts. A decisive Game 7 would need to be played.

Game 7 @ Miller Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Dodgers 0 2 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 5 10 0
Brewers 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 0
WP: Ryan Madson (1-0); LP: Jhoulys Chacin (1-1)
Home Runs: MIL - Christian Yelich (1); LA - Cody Bellinger (1), Yasiel Puig (1)
  • Attendance: 44,097

The Dodgers won Game 7 to ensure their return to the World Series, but the Brewers gave them a scare. Jhoulys Chacin, who had been the Brewers' best starter all postseason, was on the mound, facing off against rookie Walker Buehler. Manager Craig Counsell also had a rested Josh Hader in his bullpen, ready to give him up to three innings of work. Chacin escaped the 1st inning with a double play grounder, then with one out in the bottom of the 2nd, Christian Yelich finally hit his first long ball of the series, just out of the reach of RF Yasiel Puig in center-right. A better defensive outfielder probably would have had a chance to rob Yelich of the homer, as it barely cleared the fence, but Puig did not take a very good route to the ball.

The Brewers' 1-0 lead hardly lasted. Manny Machado, coming off an awful Game 6, confounded everybody by laying a perfect bunt down the third base line - with a full count! Next up was Cody Bellinger and with a two-strike count, he drove a ball deep to center field for a no-doubt homer, also his first of the series. The Dodgers now had a 2-1 lead, and when Puig followed with a double to right, Counsell could no longer restrain himself and began to warm up Hader. He wasn't needed, as Chacin retired the next three batters, but now Counsell had made his decision that Chacin was out after just two innings of work. That meant that at some point, he would need to use one of his lesser relievers, as Hader and Corey Knebel could not pitch the remaining seven innings by themselves. So he was painting himself into a corner. At least, he did not have to pull off a double switch to bring in Hader, as his hitters extended the bottom of the 2nd enough to have the pitcher's spot come up with two outs, and two on - Mike Moustakas and Orlando Arcia who had both singled - but Jonathan Schoop could only ground out to third.

Josh Hader gave his manager exactly what he had expected - three solid innings of relief, during which the Dodgers were unable to pad their lead. But neither were the Brewers able to tie it, as Buehler had settled down. Travis Shaw led off the 4th with a double against the right field wall, another ball that eluded Puig but appeared catchable, but he could not even advance one base as Buehler got a pair of strikeouts and a shallow fly ball to end the inning. In the 5th, Domingo Santana pinch-hit for Hader but was out; however Lorenzo Cain followed with a two-out double, bringing up Yelich. Dave Roberts called upon the young lefty Julio Urias to come face Yelich, and in the pivotal play of the game, Yelich hit a ball to deep left-center. LF Chris Taylor was the only one who had a chance, and he made a spectacular tumbling catch at the warning track to deprive the Brewers of the tying run.

Counsell now turned to Xavier Cedeno to start the 6th, to get a favorable match-up against Max Muncy, but it did not work as Cedeno walked him. Counsell then brought closer Jeremy Jeffress, who had struggled all postseason, to face the heart of the Dodgers' line-up, and he immediately compounded the building situation by allowing a single to Justin Turner on his first pitch. Jeffress almost managed to wriggle out of trouble, though. He got Machado to hit a shallow fly to right for out number one, and Bellinger to ground out to Travis Shaw at second to force Turner. However, the Brewers were unable to turn a double play, bringing up Puig. Bellinger stole second on the first pitch, then with a 1-1 count Puig launched a pitch to deep center. That was good for three runs and a 5-1 lead. It was time to write the Brewers' obituary. Roberts needed a couple more innings of work from someone before he could turn the game over to his two late-game specialists, Pedro Baez and Kenley Jansen, so he turned to veteran Ryan Madson. He retired the Brewers in order in the bottom of the 6th, came to bat in the 7th - he struck out - and then allowed a two-out single to Arcia in the 7th. This actually was a good thing for the Dodgers, as it forced Counsell to bring in a pinch-hitter for Corey Knebel, who had finished Jeffress's work in the top of the 7th, and thus was out of the game after less than an inning. Roberts asked Jansen to face pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson, and he struck him out.

The Brewers were still four runs down heading in the 8th, with just two turns at bat left, but their bullpen pretty much emptied out. Still, Brandon Woodruff, fresh off a long outing in "relief" in Game 5, came out and he struck out the side, all three Dodgers batters going down swinging. But the Brewers were not energized by that; they couldn't get the ball out of the infield against Jansen in the bottom of the inning, as they were now down to three outs. Woodruff, running out of steam, had a much harder time in the 9th, as he started off by allowing a double to Puig and a single to Taylor. But he got Austin Barnes to ground out to first with the runners staying put; he then issued an intentional walk to Matt Kemp, who was batting for Jansen, struck out Enrique Hernandez for the second out and Muncy for the third, keeping the deficit at four runs. Alas, Roberts decided to ask his ace starter, Clayton Kershaw to close out the win; he made short work of the Brewers, with a ground out and strikeouts of Jesus Aguilar and Moustakas to end the game. The Dodgers were returning to the World Series, where they would meet the Boston Red Sox, who had already punched their ticket a few days earlier. Cody Bellinger was named the Series MVP after the game.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Nancy Armour: "Los Angeles Dodgers won't apologize for spoiling Milwaukee Brewers party", mlb.com, October 20, 2018. [1]
  • Ken Gurnick: "Dodgers 'pen well-equipped to match Brewers: Healthy Jansen leads strong relief corps entering NLCS vs. Milwaukee", mlb.com, October 10, 2018. [2]
  • Ken Gurnick: "LA wins NL, setting up titanic WS with Red Sox", mlb.com, October 21, 2018. [3]
  • Tom Haudricourt: Special Brew - An Inside Look at the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers, KCI Sports Publishing, Stevens Point, WI, 2019. ISBN 978-1940056753
  • Richard Justice: "Red-hot Brewers' rebuild complete at rapid pace: Milwaukee enters NLCS playing its best baseball, having won 11 straight games", mlb.com, October 7, 2018. [4]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Dodgers finally take care of business to beat Brewers in Game 7, get back to World Series", USA Today, October 20, 2018. [5]
  • Adam McCalvy: "Counsell: Kershaw, LA staff will be 'big challenge': Brewers manager opts to not name starting pitcher for series opener", mlb.com, October 10, 2018. [6]
  • Mike Petriello: "How the Brewers should align their pitchers in NLCS: Milwaukee doesn't have a clear ace, which means we could see some creative solutions", mlb.com, October 9, 2018. [7]
  • Mike Petriello: "Who has the edge? NLCS position by position: Dodgers, Brewers face each other to decide National League pennant", mlb.com, October 11, 2018. [8]

Related Sites[edit]

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NL Wild Card Game Rockies over Cubs (1-0)

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World Series and Red Sox (AL) over Dodgers (NL) (4-1)

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AL Division Series Red Sox (ALE) over Yankees (WC) (3-1)

AL Division Series Astros (ALW) over Indians (ALC) (3-0)

AL Wild Card Game Yankees over Athletics (1-0)

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