NLCS Game 1: Dodgers Rally Late but Fail to Complete Comeback

Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers kicked off in Milwaukee on Friday night. This is the Dodgers’ third straight NLCS appearance and the Brewers’ first appearance since 2011, when they were defeated by the St. Louis Cardinals, who would become the eventual World Series champions.

Brewers 6, Dodgers 5

W: Woodruff; L: Kershaw; S: Knebel

Players of the Game: Brandon Woodruff (victory, 1-1, 1 RBI, 1 HR); Yasmani Grandal (1-4, 2 E, 2 PB)

Brewers Lead Series 1-0

The Crew came into the NLCS looking for their 12th straight victory and had yet to be defeated during the 2018 playoffs but faced a tough matchup, sending back-end SP Gio González to the mound to face much vaunted Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw. As I expected, González was removed after just 2.0 IP in favor of RP Brandon Woodruff. González allowed 1 run on 1 hit, a solo home run by Dodgers INF Manny Machado, with 1 BB and 1 SO.

However, in the bottom of the 3rd, Woodruff tied the game on a solo shot off of Kershaw. Kershaw ended up in a bases loaded, 1 out jam when INF Jesús Aguilar reached on a catcher’s interference error by Yasmani Grandal. INF Hernán Pérez scored OF Lorenzo Cain on a sacrifice fly for the second out of the inning, but Grandal missed the catch on the throw home from OF Cody Bellinger for his second error of the inning, allowing OF Christian Yelich to advance to 3rd. The inning ended on a strikeout of INF Mike Moustakas, but Kershaw’s pain and suffering would not end there.

In the bottom of the 4th, Kershaw issued a leadoff walk to C Manny Piña. INF Orlando Arcía singled, moving up to 2nd with Piña advancing to 3rd on the play following a missed catch error by OF Chris Taylor. This error proved to be costly, as PH Domingo Santana followed up with a single scoring Piña and Arcía that chased Kershaw from the game. He was replaced by RP Ryan Madson. Santana stole second base after the initial out call on the tag play was overturned on review, and he scored on a single by OF Ryan Braun, which made the score 5-1. Kershaw’s final line for the night was 5 R (4 earned) on 6 hits in 3.0 IP with 2 BB and 2 SO.

The Crew added on to their total in the bottom of the 7th inning with a solo shot by Aguilar.

The Dodgers mounted a late comeback attempt starting in the top of the 8th inning, loading the bases with 2 outs against Brewers RP Joakim Soria. Brewers manager Craig Counsell opted to bring in his closer Jeremy Jeffress, who allowed a 2-run single by Machado to score OF Joc Pederson and Taylor, and an RBI single by OF Matt Kemp that drove in INF Max Muncy. Jeffress struck out OF Yasiel Puig to end the inning, leaving the score at 6-4.

In the top of the 9th, Taylor hit a 2-out triple on a fly ball off the glove of Cain, scoring Pederson. Turner was unable to bring in the tying run from third and struck out to end the game, sealing Milwaukee’s 12th straight victory.

The Dodgers will look to even up the series on Saturday afternoon, with game time at 4:09 PM ET. Probable starters: Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD) – 1.97 ERA; Wade Miley (MIL) – 2.57 ERA.

The American League Championship Series will kick off on Saturday and serve as the prime-time matchup starting at 8:09 PM ET. Probable starters: Justin Verlander (HOU) – 2.52 ERA; Sale (BOS) – 2.11 ERA.