It was do-or-die for the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night, as the team trailed their Wild Card playoff series 1-0 and faced elimination at the hands of Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the best-of-three matchup. The Brewers countered with their ace, Brandon Woodruff, and the two pitchers dominated the early part of the game.
Woodruff retired the first eight hitters he faced and allowed just one hit through his first four innings pitched. That was good enough to keep up with the future hall of famer Kershaw, who gave up singles to Jedd Gyorko and Luis Urias but nothing else as he too put up four zeroes to start the contest.
Keston Hiura led off the top of the fifth with a single, but was stranded on the bases as Milwaukee failed to do anything else in the inning. In the bottom half, the Dodgers made their lone rally of the ballgame. After Will Smith punched out against Woodruff to get things starts, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor hit back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. AJ Pollock grounded into a fielder’s choice, which kept runners on first and second base with two outs. Next up was Austin Barnes, who quickly fell behind 0-2 after two sinkers to begin the at-bat. But after working the count back to 2-2, Barnes fouled off a 94 MPH heater before banging a curveball for a single to center field, bringing home Taylor to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. That brought up Mookie Betts, and after falling behind 2-0, Woody grooved a 96 MPH sinker middle-middle that Betts pulled past a diving Urias at third base and into left field for a two-run double, giving Los Angeles a 3-0 advantage. That brought out Craig Counsell with the hook, and Brandon Woodruff had some choice words for home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott on his way out.
Let's try this again...— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) October 2, 2020
Here was the story behind the Woodruff ejection pic.twitter.com/qca1VRi7yi
Josh Hader entered for Milwaukee and dispatched of Corey Seager via strikes to end the threat, but the damage had been done. Kershaw, on the other hand, continued to shut the Brewers down. He did not allow a hit after the fifth, retiring 10 batters in a row at one point as he worked into the eighth inning. With one out in the eighth, Urias drew a walk, but the crafty left-hander caught him leaning. A strikeout of David Freitas later and the night was done for Kershaw, who masterfully shut down the Brewers for eighth scoreless frames. Despite a less-than-stellar track record in the playoffs, Kershaw posted one of his best starts ever as he allowed just three hits, one walk, and punched out 13 batters. He required only 93 pitches in the outing.
Clayton Kershaw catches Luis Urías leaning. Kershaw still has that great pickoff move. pic.twitter.com/bnSQu1FDUj— Positive Residual (@presidual) October 2, 2020
Avisail Garcia hit a single to lead off the top of the ninth against Brusdar Graterol, but Christian Yelich grounded into a fielder’s choice (and finished 0-for-4 on the night) and Dan Vogelbach and Ben Gamel both flew out to end the ballgame. With the 3-0 victory, the Dodgers won the short series two games to none and now will move on to the next round of the MLB playoffs.
That closes the books on the season for the Milwaukee Brewers, who go the entire regular and postseason without spending one single day with a winning record in 2020. As was the case consistently all year, the club was let down by a lifeless offense which struggled not only to get hits, but merely to put the ball in play. Another busy winter surely lies ahead as the Brewers have key personnel decisions to make all over the diamond.