“We are healthy going into the playoffs. That’s what’s most important. I don’t see any other priority that trumps that.”
Those were the words of Craig Counsell after the Milwaukee Brewers lost their regular season finale to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday afternoon, 10-3. The defeat ensured that the Brewers would not tie the franchise record for most wins in a season, finishing at 95-67 after posting a 4-10 record following their clinch of a postseason berth on September 18th. Despite something of a swoon to end the year, the team remains confident. “[W]e clinched early,” said Kolten Wong. “I think people tend to forget what our main goal is. It’s trying to get ready for the postseason. We expect in that clubhouse to go far.”
Wong was among a handful of regulars — along with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain —who got the day off for the season finale. Brett Anderson started what amounted to a bullpen day, pitching one scoreless inning on eight pitches to get the game started. That was followed by a pair of scoreless frames from Jandel Gustave, then a zero out of Hunter Strickland. The Brewers even had the lead, 1-0, against Walker Buehler after back-to-back doubles from Rowdy Tellez and Avisail Garcia leading off the fourth inning plated the game’s first run.
Buehler worked 5.0 innings allowing that one run, meaning that he finished the year with a 2.47 ERA. That ensured that Corbin Burnes became the first ERA champion in franchise history.
The game fell off the rails for the Brewers in the bottom of the fifth. Aaron Ashby came on, and after the starting the inning strikeout-walk-groundout, the Dodgers went walk-single-walk-single-grand slam. Trea Turner continued to torment the Brewers, dealing the big blow to tie a bow on LA’s six-run inning. The Dodgers added a run off Brent Suter in the sixth, then three more against Daniel Norris in the eighth. Brad Boxberger and Josh Hader made scoreless appearances. Rowdy Tellez and Eduardo Escobar hit RBI doubles in the top of the eighth. The Brewers lost 10-3.
Now the focus can turn towards the postseason. The division-winning Brewers will get a break for the next several days while the Wild Card games play out, then the NLDS will start on Friday. Milwaukee will begin the series at home against the Atlanta Braves at American Family Field.