UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave wondering if the Wisconsin Cheeseheads watched the Milwaukee Brewers or the Green Bay Packers on Monday night. Probably both.
—The Milwaukee Brewers scored a 4-0 Game 3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday night in Dodger Stadium, but it wasn’t without some nervous tics.
The nervousness was at its height in the bottom of the ninth when the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out before relief pitcher Jeremy Jeffress, who filled the bases, ended it by striking out Yasmani Grandal and Brian Dozier.
Starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin and four relief pitchers shut down the high-octane LA offense on five hits.
Chacin held the Dodgers to no runs and three hits over 5 1/3 innings, an amazing feat considering that the last time he stood on the Dodger Stadium mound (Aug. 1) he gave up nine runs and three home runs in three innings of a 21-5 Brewers loss.
Chacin is pitching for is seventh team in the last four years — Colorado, Cleveland, Arizona, Atlanta, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers (How did he miss the Cincinnati Reds?).
He has been released twice — by Colorado and by Cleveland — and the Brewers signed him before this season to a bargain basement two-year $15.5 million deal. He won 15 games this year, the only Brewers pitcher to win more than 10.
The Los Angeles Dodgers started 24-year-old Lexington, Ky. native Walker Buehler (insert ‘day off’ jokes here), pitching in his first full major league season. Smart? His SAT score was 30 and got him into Vanderbilt. But he nearly transferred to the University of Cincinnati before he attended Vandy because the coach who recruited him, Derk Johnson, left the school to become a major league coach. Johnson, though, talked Buehler into staying at Vanderbilt.
—Buehler struck out the side in the top of the first, but also gave up a run. He walked Christian Yelich with one out and the fleet-footed Yelich scored from first base on Ryan Braun’s double. Yelich and Braun pained Dodgers fans because both grew up in Los Angeles.
—The Dodgers filled the bases in the second inning but didn’t score. Manny Machado singled and Yasiel Puig doubled with one out, putting runners on third and second. But Grandal struck out. The Brewers walked Kike Hernandez intentionally so Chacin could strike out opposing pitcher Buehler to snip the rally.
—Grandal finally contributed a positive in the fifth with a leadoff ground rule double down the left field line. Hernandez flied to left, Buehler struck out (again) and Joc Pederson flied to center on a full count, leaving the Brewers on charge, 1-0.
—Milwaukee’s Travis Shaw lined a two-out triple in the sixth and scored on Buehler’s wild pitch to push the advantage to 2-0.
—Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell, owner of a hook bigger than the one worn by Captain Hook, couldn’t resist. When Justin Turner reached first base with one out in the sixth on an error by third baseman Mike Moustakas, Counsell sashayed to the mound to remove Chacin.
Corey Knebel came on and Manny Machado crushed Knebel’s first pitch — right at Moustakas and this time he fielded it and threw out Machado. Knebel then struck out Cody Bellinger and another Dodger threat evaporated.
—While the Dodgers kept leaving runners on, the Brewers didn’t. No. 7 hitter, catcher Erik Katz, pulled a one-out double to left and No. 8 hitter, shortstop Orlando Arcia, punched an opposite-field home run down the right field line. His third postseason home run this year gave Milwaukee a 4-0 lead.
—Counsell, once again relying on his octupus-armed bullpen, sent Knebel back out for the seventh and he struck out the side.
—Alex Wood took over for the Dodgers in the eighth and Yelich greeted him with a bunt base hit down the third base line against the shift. Braun blooped one to short right and right fielder Puig deked Yelich into thinking he was going to catch it. The ball fell in, but Puig threw Yelich out at second.
Bruan immediately took second when catcher Grandal was charged with another passed ball, his third of the series. And the Dodger Stadium multitude voiced a loud disaproval. Wood, though, pitched out of it.
—Joakim Soria started the eighth for the Brewers and recorded an out. Then, with a 4-0 lead, Counsell brought in Josh Hader and, of course, he struck out David Freese and Matt Kemp.
But why Hader with a four-run lead when the Brewers might need him in Game 4 in a tighter situation?
—Counsell did pull Hader for the ninth, bringing in Jeremy Jeffress to finish it off. And Turner immediately started the bottom of the ninth with a full-count single to center field. And Manny Machado doubled to the left field corner, putting runners on third and second with no outs.
Cody Bellinger popped out. That brought up Yasiel Puig, 0 for 5 with five strikeouts against Jeffress. Alas, Jeffress walked him on four pitches to fill the bases with one out.
That brought up the star-crossed Grandal and the former Reds No. 1 draft pick struck out on three pitches. Jeffress then struck out pinch-hitter Dozier to end it.