You can’t win if you don’t score, and outside of one mighty swing of the bat in game one of this NLDS, the Milwaukee Brewers haven’t done any scoring. That trend continued into Monday afternoon’s game three against the Atlanta Braves, putting our local big league nine into a precarious position.
Freddy Peralta and Ian Anderson posted dueling zeroes across the first four innings to begin this game; Peralta yielding just three singles and one walk while punching out five batters on 57 pitches. In his final inning, he escaped a two-outs and runner on third situation, which only occurred after Lorenzo Cain nearly made a highlight-reel catch, only to drop the ball when he hit the ground after colliding with the outfield wall. But sensing that runs would be at a premium, manager Craig Counsell elected to pinch-hit for Peralta in the top of the fifth when his spot came up with two runners on and one out. Daniel Vogelbach was the substitute batter, and a hit-and-run was put on. Luis Urias broke from third on contact; unfortunately, the ball was fielded by the third baseman Austin Riley, and Urias was cut down in a rundown between third and home. The Brewers failed to score.
That would loom large in the bottom of the inning, with Adrian Houser as the first man out of the bullpen. Travis d’Arnaud got things rolling with a leadoff single, then Dansby Swanson singled to bring up the pitcher’s spot. Anderson was pulled after 5.0 shutout innings for pinch-hitter Joc Pederson. Houser — who struggles against left-handed hitters — had to stay in for the three-batter rule, and his fourth pitch of the at-bat was a letter-high fastball that Pederson smashed out of the park for a three-run homer.
Those would be the only runs that ATL would put up against the Brewers as Hunter Strickland, Brad Boxberger, and Jake Cousins each threw a scoreless inning to finish things, but those were the only runs needed. In the seventh, Edurado Escobar hit a pinch-hit double to lead off the inning, but was stranded there without any advancement. In the eighth, Jace Peterson walked to lead off, then Willy Adames singled to move him up to third. But on the first pitch he saw from Tyler Matzek, former MVP Christian Yelich grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the threat.
Milwaukee went down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning, and now are playing for their lives in game four. It’s do-or-die time, and while the Brewers have yet to announce their starter, CC said after the game that it would not be Corbin Burnes on short rest. Eric Lauer might be the most likely option to pitch with the season on the line. The Braves haven’t announced their starter either, but two hurlers will face off tomorrow afternoon at 4:07 PM central in Atlanta.