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Milwaukee Brewers history in the NLDS

Prior to this postseason, the Brewers have played in a league division series four times.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game 5 Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

1981: New York Yankees 3, Milwaukee Brewers 2

  • Game 1: Yankees 5, Brewers 3
  • Game 2: Yankees 3, Brewers 0
  • Game 3: Brewers 5, Yankees 3
  • Game 4: Brewers 2, Yankees 1
  • Game 5: Brewers 3, Yankees 7

Let’s start off with a bit of a bonus entry. While the League Division Series didn’t start in full until the playoffs expanded in 1994 (and officially happened for the first time in 1995), the template for the division series actually came around in 1981. That season, the season was split in half due to the midseason players strike. As the winners of the second half of the season in the AL East, the Brewers earned their first ever postseason spot that year, and faced the Yankees in a divisional round created just for this season. While the Brewers had the best overall record in the AL East (62-47), the Yankees had home-field advantage due to an agreement made for this postseason, giving the first half winners the right to host the last three games and the second half winners the right to host the first two.

Despite home-field advantage, the first four games went to the road team. With the Brewers hosting their first postseason games in team history, they couldn’t get a win, going down 2-0 in the series after their two home games at County Stadium. The series shifted to New York, and the Brewers rallied back with two straight wins to force a decisive Game 5. Despite leading 2-0 early in Game 5, the Yankees rallied with 4 runs in the fourth inning and added on to take the game and win the series.

Though the Brewers made another postseason appearance in 1982, the series went back to the original format that did not feature a division series, and the Brewers wouldn’t appear in another until 2008.

2008: Philadelphia Phillies 3, Milwaukee Brewers 1

  • Game 1: Brewers 1, Phillies 3
  • Game 2: Brewers 2, Phillies 5
  • Game 3: Phillies 1, Brewers 4
  • Game 4: Phillies 6, Brewers 2

After a 26-year playoff drought, the 2008 season put the Brewers back in the postseason for the first time since 1982. It was a memorable season, but their first series back in the postseason wasn’t quite as memorable.

Yovani Gallardo got the start in Game 1, but fell behind when the Phillies scored three in the third inning, and Cole Hamels kept the Brewers off the board. The Brewers did have a chance in the ninth when they got to closer Brad Lidge. Ray Durham singled and Ryan Braun drove him in with a double. J.J. Hardy walked with two outs to put the tying run on base and a wild pitch put him in scoring position, but Corey Hart struck out to end the game.

Brewers ace CC Sabathia was on the mound for Game 2, but after his run to carry the Brewers into the postseason, he was spent in this game. The Brewers led early thanks to a bases loaded walk, but the Phillies scored five in the second to build a big lead, with most of that coming from a grand slam by Shane Victorino. The Brewers added another run in the seventh, but they couldn’t rally beyond that and went home down 2-0.

  • Back at home hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2008, the Brewers would make sure they weren’t swept out of this season’s playoffs. The Brewers got two runs off of Jamie Moyer early thanks to RBIs from Prince Fielder and J.J. Hardy, and tacked on another from a Ryan Braun sacrifice fly in the fifth to score Mike Cameron. Meanwhile, Dave Bush was sharp over 5 13 innings, allowing just one run. A single from Jason Kendall in the seventh added another run, and the Brewers bullpen closed it out with Salomon Torres getting the save for the Brewers first postseason win since 1982.

Hoping to force a decisive Game 5 in Philadelphia, the Brewers sent Jeff Suppan to the mound to start Game 4. However, it didn’t go well. Suppan pitched just three innings and allowed five runs. The Brewers trailed the whole game as Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a home run. The Brewers did score a couple of runs late, but it wasn’t nearly enough and their season came to an end with a 6-2 loss.

2011: Milwaukee Brewers 3, Arizona Diamondbacks 2

  • Game 1: Diamondbacks 1, Brewers 4
  • Game 2: Diamondbacks 4, Brewers 9
  • Game 3: Brewers 1, Diamondbacks 8
  • Game 4: Brewers 6, Diamondbacks 10
  • Game 5: Diamondbacks 2, Brewers 3 (10 Innings)

With a franchise record 96 wins in 2011, the Brewers entered the postseason for the first time as the NL Central Division champion. They took the #2 seed in this postseason, and got to host the #3 seed Diamondbacks to start out the playoffs.

Game 1 was a nice welcome back to the playoffs for the team. Playing before the home crowd, they put together a strong performance. Yovani Gallardo was stellar, allowing just one run in eight innings pitched. Jerry Hairston drove in the first run on a sacrifice fly, Jonathan Lucroy added the second with an RBI single, and Prince Fielder added some fireworks with a two-run home run in the seventh inning. It was basically all Brewers from start to finish as the Brewers got the Game 1 win.

Game 2 wasn’t as smooth but still came out in the Brewers favor. Zack Greinke made the Game 2 start and was roughed up a bit, allowing four runs in five innings (with three home runs allowed). However, the Brewers offense backed him up. Ryan Braun had the Brewers on the board early with a two-run home run in the first inning. The Brewers added two more in the third with a Fielder RBI single and Rickie Weeks RBI triple, but the Diamondbacks tied it up in the fifth inning at 4-4. However, the Brewers offense responded in the sixth, sending ten batters to the plate. They had four singles, two walks (one intentional), and a double to score five runs, and the Brewers were up 9-4. The bullpen would hold it there the rest of the way, and the Brewers had the 2-0 series lead.

Shifting to Arizona, the Brewers sent out Shaun Marcum in Game 3 looking for the series sweep. However, the Diamondbacks would not go quietly. They roughed up Marcum for seven runs in 4 23 innings. Meanwhile, all the Brewers offense could muster is a Corey Hart solo home run in the third inning. The Brewers took the 8-1 loss, but still had breathing room with a 2-1 series lead.

Unfortunately, Game 4 didn’t go any better. This time, Randy Wolf was the pitcher roughed up, as he also allowed seven runs in his start, which just covered three innings. The Brewers offense tried to overcome the deficit, with six runs and eleven hits in the game, led by a 3-for-4 day from Yuniesky Betancourt. However, the early deficit was too much, and the Brewers lost 10-6, tying the series at 2-2 and sending it back to Miller Park.

Game 5 at Miller Park was one for the ages, an all-time classic in Milwuakee Brewers history. Yovani Gallardo was back on the mound for Game 5, hoping to lock the series down. It started out in the Diamondbacks favor, with Justin Upton hitting a solo home run in the third inning to give them the early 1-0 lead. However, the Brewers loaded the bases in the fourth inning, and got one run in on a sacrifice fly from Jerry Hairston, but nothing else. The game was tied at 1-1 until the sixth inning. With two runners on base, Betancourt singled to center field to score Braun, and the Brewers were up 2-1. Takashi Saito and Francisco Rodriguez held the Diamondbacks in check, and John Axford came in for the ninth for the save to end the series. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks got to Axford quick, with a Gerardo Parra double, Sean Burroughs single, and Willie Bloomquist bunt single scoring Parra and tying the game at 2-2. Axford managed to get the next three batters out, but the game was tied and headed to extra innings. Axford stayed in for the tenth inning and sent the Diamondbacks down in order, giving the Brewers the chance to win it in the tenth inning. With one out, Carlos Gomez singled to left field to put the winning run on base. Nyjer Morgan came up and Gomez stole second. On a 2-2 count, Nyjer Morgan hit a single to center field, and the Diamondbacks tried throwing home but weren’t in time, as Gomez scored to send Miller Park into chaos as the Brewers won the game and the series 3-2. It was the team’s first postseason series victory in 29 years.

2018: Milwaukee Brewers 3, Colorado Rockies 0

  • Game 1: Rockies 2, Brewers 3 (10 Innings)
  • Game 2: Rockies 0, Brewers 4
  • Game 3: Brewers 6, Rockies 0

After a late-season run, the Brewers found themselves as the top seed in the National League for the first time in franchise history, and hosted the Colorado Rockies, who were the Wild Card winner over the Chicago Cubs.

Game 1 featured Brandon Woodruff leading the Brewers rotation in the postseason, with Corbin Burnes behind him. Together, the two combined to pitch five scoreless innings with just one hit and one walk allowed, with six strikeouts. Corey Knebel and Josh Hader added three combined scoreless innings as well. Meanwhile, Christian Yelich gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead with a home run in the third inning. The Brewers were in great shape heading to the ninth inning, but Jeremy Jeffress struggled and allowed two runs, sending the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the tenth, Yelich led off with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Travis Shaw was intentionally walked and pinch hitter Curtis Granderson moved Yelich up to third, but with two outs. Mike Moustakas came up and delivered for the Brewers, hitting a single to right field that scored Yelich and gave the Brewers a 3-2 win.

Jhoulys Chacin got the ball in Game 2 and continued the Brewers’ strong pitching. He pitched five scoreless innings, and Knebel, Joakim Soria, and Hader combined to keep the Rockies off the board. Jeffress was back in after his blown save in Game 1, but this time kept the Rockies scoreless as well. Meanwhile, on offense, back to back doubles from Moustakas and Hernan Perez scored a run in the fifth. The Brewers tacked on three more in the eighth for some breathing room, and the Brewers got a 4-0 win.

The series went to Colorado from there, and the pitching remained on point. Despite pitching in hitter friendly Coors Field, the Brewers staff was still excellent. Wade Miley got the Game 3 start and pitched 4 23 scoreless innings. Meanwhile, the Brewers manufactured a run in the first and tacked on from there. Jesus Aguilar hit a solo home run in the fourth, a crazy sequence in the sixth that involved a balk and a wild pitch plated two more Brewers runs, and back-to-back home runs in the ninth from Orlando Arcia and Keon Broxton extended the lead further. Meanwhile, the Brewers bullpen was lights out again, and the Brewers secured the 3-0 series sweep.

The Brewers now start their fifth division series in franchise history, against the fifth different opponent they’ve faced in a division series. They’ve won their last two division series and are favored to extend that streak. Can the Brewers make it a third straight division series win?