Jhoulys Chacin

USA Today

A Master Class In Pitching From The Brewers

If a Packers win is good, a Packers win and a Brewers win is even better.

October 16, 2018 - 10:46 am

If a Packers win is good, a Packers win and a Brewers win is even better. And the Brewers upheld their end of the bargain with a 4-0 win at Dodger Stadium. That wasn’t so much a win as it was a clinic. And a message to anyone who wasn’t paying attention and thinks it’s weird or cute that the Brewers are in the NLCS. Because they aren’t just in the NLCS, they are up 2-1 in the NLCS and absolutely choked the Dodgers yesterday. 

That was a masterclass in pitching from everyone in Brewers gear. And it was a masterclass in going on the road in the postseason and taking the crowd out of the game. Because the Dodger Stadium crowd was never there. And I’m not saying that to bash Dodger fans. The Brewers just took them out, starting with Ryan Braun’s RBI double in the first. 1-0 Brewers and that would’ve been enough. Because their pitching was so good and the Dodgers were just never in the game. 

I don’t mean that from a score standpoint. They were always in it on the scoreboard, they just never seemed to be in it mentally. They seemed lost. And the mental mistakes were weird. 

There was Manny Machado coming close to the line on a double play slide in the first and then going over it with a double-play slide in the fourth that cost the Dodgers a runner. Cody Bellinger misjudging a fly ball that led to a run. And then there was Yasmani Grandal.

But I’ll get to him in a second.

Before I do, let’s address the flatness. There was something off about the Dodger players and Dodger fans last night. That didn’t feel like a postseason atmosphere at all. And it wasn’t an arrive late, leave early vibe. It was just a weird vibe. Dodger Kike Hernandez noticed.

"We had no energy. The stadium had no energy. The fans had no energy. Overall, it was a pretty bad game for everybody who calls themselves Dodgers.” 

A lot of that is true, but wait, tell me that he’s not blaming the fans for how the team played. 

"It was a playoff game, and it didn’t feel like a playoff game. Not just because of the fans, but because of how we were playing the game . . . We sucked. That’s why we lost." 

Okay, that’s better. Because for a minute, I thought he was going to point the finger at the fans instead of at the players. But the truth is, the Dodgers did suck and that’s why they lost. 

And yes, I get it. As a player, you want to feed off the fans, but last night, there wasn’t much to feed off. The Brewers made sure of that and the Dodgers were all too willing to help.

But that doesn’t mean the stadium was totally silent. There was noise in the stands all right. It was booing for Yasmani Grandal. And the crowd chanting for his backup. That’s brutal. When was the last time you heard the crowd chanting for a backup catcher in a postseason game? Never?

But I can see the frustration. In Game 1, he became the first catcher in postseason history with two errors and two passed balls, and he did it in the first three innings. And then last night, he had another passed ball and couldn’t block a wild pitch, which allowed a run to score. 

Grandal has picked the worst time to have the worst time and Hernandez was trying to pick him up, by suggesting that a couple fans suit up: "If they think that they can do it, then go ahead, put on your gear and go catch 99 with breaking balls that have a lot of movement.” 

I’m sure there were a bunch of fans last night who would’ve taken Kike up on his offer. And I’m sure they’ll be fired up to know that Austin Barnes is replacing him tonight. But as bad as Grandal has been, and he’s having a nightmare, this isn’t all on him. 

It’s on every Dodger with a bat. Because they aren’t using those bats. They led the NL in home runs and runs scored, and had zero of both last night. 

And when the balls aren’t leaving the yard, the runs aren’t crossing the plate, because they really struggle to manufacture runs. As evidenced by last night’s performance: 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.  

This group set a franchise record with 13 strikeouts in Game 1. And broke it last night with 14. And if they don’t turn it around tonight, it could be a really short series and a really long offseason.