I watched NLCS game six in my basement last night, but I wasn’t yet home when Wade Miley threw out the first pitch of the ballgame. I was in the cramped lobby of our local deep dish joint, waiting on my family’s pizza order that wound up taking about 20 minutes longer than originally expected. I was standing along with a half-dozen other people who were also waiting on their pizza, and we were all excitedly talking about our team’s chances when disaster struck and sucked the enthusiasm from the room.
David. F***ing. Freese.
The man who destroyed Milwaukee’s hope during the 2011 NLCS as a member of the Cardinals was determined to do the same in 2018 while with the Dodgers. Freese led off the game with a solo blast and staked Hyun-jin Ryu - the owner of a 1.97 ERA in the regular season - to a 1-0 lead.
It was the bottom of the first by the time I arrived home, and I was already feeling dejected. But as I sat down in front of the tube and opened up my pizza, I watched something miraculous unfold. The slumbering offense finally jolted awake. The Brewers batted around in the frame, stringing together four straight two-out hits to plate four runs. Miller Park, stuffed with nearly 44,000 screaming fans, was rocking.
The bats that Milwaukee counts on - Cain, Yelich, Aguilar, Braun, Moustakas - finally got into the act. Miley yielded two earned runs across 4.1 solid innings before turning the ball over, and Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress, and Corbin Burnes worked together to pitch the final 4.2 innings without allowing a hit or a run. The Brewers cruised to a 7-2 victory. A must-win game, won.
And now it’s do-or-die time, with a World Series berth on the line.
The Brewers have never won a game seven in their franchise history. But that doesn’t mean the odds are stacked against them. Per Adam McCalvy, the home team has won 30 times during the 55 previous winner-take-all postseason game sevens. Under the current format, there have been 32 occurrences of a home team winning game six to force a game seven. 20 times out of those 32, the home team has also captured game seven and the series.
Jhoulys Chacin, the team’s best starter, has thrown 10.1 scoreless postseason innings and is lined up to begin the game. Josh Hader, one of three nominees for the NL’s top reliever, is fully rested and will be available to pitch multiple innings. Our Cream City Nine won the most games in the National League in 2018, and also had the best home record on the Senior Circuit. They’ll take the field tonight in front of another sellout crowd of 40,000+ screaming fans, hungry to see their favorite team go to their first Fall Classic in 36 years.
27 more outs separate the Milwaukee Brewers from a date with the Boston Red Sox and a battle for the World Championship. Win tonight, or there is no tomorrow.