The Real McCoy

Hall of Fame baseball writer Hal McCoy shares his thoughts on the Cincinnati Reds
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McCoy: Brewers win 11th straight, dispatch Rockies in three games to advance to NLCS

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, remembering a trip to Denver and the Rocky Mountain Cafe, where I first ate a delicacy called prairie oysters (ask somebody else what they are):

—The Milwaukee Brewers are playing as if they believe they might not lose another game this season. And they might not. They only have eight more wins to accomplish before they are World Series champions.

With the three-game sweep, the Brewers have won 11 straight games, which enabled them to come from behind to win the National League Central division that included a one-game playoff with the Chicago Cubs.

The clincher Sunday was a 6-0 three-hit shutout as Brewers manager Craig Counsell continues to use a Pitching by Committe modus operandi.

Starter Wade Miley pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings and gave up three hits, then the Rockies were as cold as the 46 degrees in Denver on Sunday, getting no hits off relievers Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria and Colby Burnes. They finally were credited with a one-out double in the ninth off Jeremy Jeffress, a ball hit by Trevor Story that glanced off right rielder Christian Yelich’s glove.

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Strikeout king Josh Hader arrived on the scene to strike out Carlos Gonzalez and retired the final hitter on a fly ball.

That ignited Milwaukee’s on-the-field dog pile and the clubhouse champagne spraying while the Rockies went quietly into the night.

The Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies Sunday at Coors Field in the best-of-five National League Division Series. And they used a very large push room to totally dominate the series.

—The first run came in the first inning on a fielder’s choice ground ball by Milwaukee second baseman Travis Shaw who had two hits and in addition to his RBI ground ball.

Shaw is a son of former Cincinnati Reds closer Jeff Shaw and I remember this tow-headed blond kid sitting at his dad’s locker in the clubhouse taking it all in. Who knew?

—It was absolutely no shock that Milwaukee’s Jesus Aguilar hit a home run in the fourth inning. Asked before the game what he thinks about Coors Field, he said, “I love it, I love it, I love it.”

And why not? Before Sunday he had played six games in Coors Field and hit .350 with four home runs and eight RBI. Aguilar is a Cleveland Indians castoff. The Tribe put him on waivers in February of 2017 and Milwaukee grabbed him.

The run-starved Tribe certainly could use him in their so-far inept two-game performance against the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series.

—The Rockies caught a piece of good fortune in the fifth inning. The Brewers had Christian Yelich on third and Ryan Braun on first with two outs. Travis Shaw shot one between first and second, a ball headed to right field for a run-scoring single.

But the ball hit Braun. The rule says a batted ball that hits a base runner who is not on a base is out. Shaw was credited with a hit, but Braun was out to end the inning and Yelich did not score.

—With a punch ‘em out, drag ‘em down bullpen, Counsell never hesitates. Miley was on cruise control in the fifth with two outs and a runner on first. He had given up no runs, three hits and one walk.
Nevertheless, Counsell pushed himself out of the dugout, hook in hand, to extract Miley. He brought in former closer Corey Knebel to face Charlie Blackmon and, of course, Knebel struck him out.

—Much is made about Milwaukee’s acquistions this year of Yelich, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop. But how about Erik Kratz? Erik who?

After bouncing around since 2010, never playing more than 68 games in a season, Kratz was signed by the Brewers in mid-season. On Sunday he had hits in his first three at bats and was 5 for 8 in the series.

—Watch baseball long enough and you see something every week you’ve never seen before.

It happened again Sunday. How many times have you seen a player strikeout, but two runs scored during his at bat. When it happened Sunday with Curtis Granderson batting it was a first for me.

There were runners on third and second when Granderson became a pinch-hitter. Granderson is another player the Brewers picked up near the trade deadline. While he was at bat Colorado pitcher Scott Oberg dropped the baseball while standiing on the rubber, a balk. The runner on third scored and the runner on second move to third. Then he threw a wild pitch and another run scored. Then Granderson struck out.

—During their 11-game winning streak, the Brewers averaged nearly seven runs a game. They scored six Sunday, the last two runs coming in the ninth inning when light-hitting shortstop Orlando Arcia and defensive specialist Keon Broxton started the inning with back-to-back home runs against Colorado closer Wade Davis.

When Davis walked the next two hitters, manager Bud Black removed him and his season ended with him facing four hitters and giving up two homers and two walks.

—The Brewers move on to the National League Championship Series and because they had the league’s best record they will have the home field advantage. The first two games in the best-of-seven will start in Milwaukee against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Atlanta Braves. 

 

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