Do or Die
The Dodgers entered Game 6 of the NLCS on Friday looking to punch their ticket to the World Series for the second consecutive season.
The Brewers meanwhile, were just looking to survive and advance in any way possible.
The Dodgers threw the first punch in this one. Postseason legend David Freese, batting out of the leadoff spot in the order for just the third time in his entire career, smashed a leadoff home run off of Brewers’ left-hander Wade Miley to silence the home faithful at Miller Park and give the Dodgers an early 1-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Brewers to strike back. In the bottom half of the first inning, Lorenzo Cain started things with an infield single. After Christian Yelich was retired on a terrific play by Justin Turner at third base, Ryan Braun drew a one-out walk. Jesus Aguilar then lined a two-run double into right field, restoring the life into the home crowd.
Mike Moustakas followed suit, attacking the first pitch that he saw from Hyun-Jin Ryu for a run-scoring double of his own. Erik Kratz then ambushed the first pitch he saw, serving an RBI single into right center.
The Brewers wound up batting around in the first inning, pushing those four runs across to take a 4-1 lead. They’d add to that lead the next inning, when Ryan Braun came through with an RBI double to score Christian Yelich who had doubled before him.
The Dodgers struck back in the fifth inning, again with lefty-masher David Freese. He lined an RBI double into the gap to score Brian Dozier who had just worked a four-pitch walk off of Miley. The left-hander then walked Max Muncy, and that was all manager Craig Counsell needed to see. He called upon right-hander Corey Knebel with two men on and one out in the fifth inning, and the third and fourth place hitters due up for the Dodgers.
Knebel was up to the challenge. He retired Justin Turner on a fly ball to center field, then punched out Manny Machado to end the threat. In the bottom half of the inning, the Brewers’ threatened for more, loading the bases against Alex Wood, but Counsell opted not to pinch-hit for Knebel, leaving him to strikeout to end the inning.
Knebel stuck around for the sixth inning, hitting Joc Pederson with one out, but otherwise working a clean inning to keep the 5-2 lead intact.
The Brewers added to their lead in the seventh inning, when Aguilar scampered home on a wild pitch by Kenta Maeda. While Dodgers’ catcher Yasmani Grandal really had no chance at blocking that ball, given his struggles behind the plate in the series, I’m sure that play drew the ire of many Dodgers’ fans.
The Brewers cashed in on another Dodgers’ miscue in the eighth inning. After Hernan Perez hit into what looked like it should have been an inning-ending double play that the Dodgers were unable to turn over, Aguilar cashed in Lorenzo Cain with a two-out RBI single to extend their lead to 7-2.
Corbin Burnes worked the final two innings for the Brewers, recording a pair of strikeouts while retiring all six hitters that he faced.
Not only did the Brewers stave off elimination by winning Game 6, but manager Craig Counsell was able to avoid using bullpen ace Josh Hader, which should extend his availability for Saturday’s winner-take-all contest.
On the hill for the Dodgers on Saturday will be rookie right-hander Walker Buehler. He pitched pretty well in a losing effort in Game 3 of the series, allowing four runs on five hits over seven innings while racking up eight strikeouts.
You’ll remember that he was opposed by Jhoulys Chacin in that contest. The Brewers’ right-hander scattered three hits and a pair of walks over 5 ⅓ innings of shutout baseball in that one while striking out six. In fact, Chacin hasn’t allowed a single run in 10 ⅓ innings over his two starts this postseason.
It’ll be an all-hands-on-deck scenario for both bullpens in this one, with only Friday’s starters likely to be unavailable to their respective managers. With the Brewers holding Hader out of Game 5 and 6, it would be surprising if he didn’t work at least two innings in Saturday’s must-win game.
Awaiting the winner is a date with Chris Sale and the Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series which will begin in Boston on Tuesday.
American League Quick Hits: Charlie Morton said after the Astros were eliminated Thursday that he plans to continue his career. He’s likely to receive a $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Astros this winter, and has expressed his desire to remain in Houston, so there’s a chance that he could wind up accepting that one-year pact rather than looking for a multi-year deal on the free agent market… Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey (elbow/forearm) will resume a throwing program in December…. Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports that Matt Davidson will train this winter in hopes of becoming a two-way player next season. He doesn’t envision ever becoming a high-leverage reliever, but does think that he can be a regular weapon out of the White Sox bullpen, providing their roster with extra flexibility. Davidson made three scoreless appearances for the White Sox during the season, allowing just one hit and a walk while striking out two… Red Sox manager Alex Cora said in an interview on WEEI on Friday that Chris Sale (illness) will start Game 1 of the World Series next Tuesday… .
National League Quick Hits: MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reports that the Mets have completed their first round of interviews and have begun paring down their list as they seek a new general manager. De Jon Watson, Gary LaRocque and Dave Littlefield are reportedly out of the running. Chaim Bloom, Doug Melvin, Brodie Van Wagenen and Kim Ng are the other known candidates, with Andy Martino of SNY.tv reporting that Melvin has "several people both inside and outside the organization" advocating for him… Joe Musgrove underwent surgery to repair his right abdominal wall and help a pelvic stress reaction heal. He's expected to need six weeks of rehab time, with the Pirates saying the right-hander "will be on or close to a regular schedule for 2019 spring training."... With Joe Girardi removing his name from consideration for the Reds’ managerial job, David Bell has emerged as the favorite to secure the gig. Bell has been working as the director of player development for the Giants. While he has no managerial experience, he’s also a finalist for the Blue Jays’ and Rangers’ jobs, and is also being considered for the general manager’s job in San Francisco, so he’s in very high demand…