“Dance with the ones that brung you” is all-purpose advice. Sometimes, it seems like sage counsel, when the champions who excelled before manage to thrive once again. Sometimes it sounds like the desperate acknowledgement that there’s no one else: the money’s spent, the ships have been burned, and the government has officially disavowed the very existence of our organization. Sometimes, it’s the only thing you can think to say, when they’ve got a lefty on the bench, and they just announced a righty pinch hitter, and you’re running out of arms. It is a statement of lonely defiance.
It’s also a good idea.
Well, our’n beat their’n, their home field advantage is gone, and Austin Riley can literally order any damn thing he wants when I get him that beer I owe him.
Thus far, this series has been as advertised: the Brewer starting pitching and bullpen has been very good, and the Brewer offense has been anemic. But the Braves have matched ’em. Now we’ve got a day off and some home cooking, and we’ll let tomorrow worry about tomorrow. Here, in rich, luxurious detail, let us enjoy the present:
Varsity’s an ace. Pure and simple, Max Fried is one of the 15 best starters in Major League Baseball. It took him 81 pitches to record 18 outs, half of them by strikeout, yielding three hits and no walks.
Snit may have overcorrected in taking him out when he did — Charlie was clearly sucking wind in the sixth in the first game, and had no business going out for the seventh, far more than Max Fried tonight. But the only extra-base hit (or, for that matter, runner in scoring position) came in the sixth inning, and I generally don’t mind Snit reminding himself that you need to have a quick hook in the playoffs, and it’s better to err on the side of yanking a guy one batter too early than one batter too late. So I won’t complain too much about that, especially right before the day off.
Woodruff was good, though not perfect. Just like last night, we squandered a walk in the first and a bunt single and wild pitch in the second. But in the third inning, the Braves did their thing. Jorge Soler — whose installation at leadoff is one of my personal favorite Snitker moves this year — hit a laser down the line, Fredward singled him home, and Ozzie hit a damn-near-homer that turned into an RBI double, and yesterday’s double play was avenged.
Two runs didn’t feel like enough, and Austin Riley couldn’t have agreed more. He absolutely destroyed a ball to utter right-center, 428 feet worth of a 3-0 lead.
Well, our bullpen did about what it’s done the whole second half: bend, but not break. Luke Jackson got a couple outs in the seventh, then put two men on, and Matzek got a third out while the radio guys were blithely chirping about his league-leading regular season strand rate while I was futilely yelling at them not to jinx him. They didn’t. Inning over. He stayed in the game and got three more outs in the eighth. That dude’s good.
And then came the ninth. I am quite sure you will be unsurprised when I tell you that Will Smith did not get a 1-2-3 inning. He walked the $!*%ing leadoff man again, and then he gave up a single, bringing the tying run to the plate before giving a moment’s thought to getting an out. But then he got a flyout from Cain and a double play from third-string catcher Luke Maile — who was on to relieve backup catcher Manny Piña, who was in instead of Game 1 catcher Omar Narvaez.
Over two games, the series has essentially been exactly what we thought it would be: the pitching has been great and the hitting has been infrequent, on both sides. And Will Smith… yeah. But the Brewers are not indomitable, and our dudes are not outclassed. We’re leaving the land of the Violent Femmes and going home.
Dance with the ones that brung you. Let’s play some baseball!