Keep hope alive. Ya gotta have faith. It’s our time – tonight.
The sports world is littered with a litany of inspirational catchphrases – and every single one of them applies to the Milwaukee Brewers right now. Whatever you need to tell yourself, do it, because this series is far from over.
So the Brewers are down, 3-2. So what? The Dodgers don’t scare me, and they shouldn’t scare you either. Los Angeles has averaged a whopping 3.2 runs per game so far, and their pitching staff, though solid in this series, is certainly gettable. Heck, Milwaukee could have – or even should have – won the first four games of this series. The Brewers have not been outclassed by any means.
Sure, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich need to wake up at the plate; they are hitting a combined .188 in the postseason thus far, though they do at least have 13 combined walks. But any time those two have struggled over an extended stretch this year, they have bounced back with a vengeance. Yelich and Cain topped the National League in wins above replacement for a reason. You cannot lose faith in them now. You cannot lose faith in this team now. Heck, this is the team that won you free burgers after all! If that doesn’t buy a modicum of belief, I don’t know what will.
Ignore the 3-2 hole for a second: The Brewers just have to win two games at home to return to the World Series for the first time in nearly four decades. Who had the best home record in the NL this year? The Brewers. Who led the league in stolen bases at home, was second in ERA at home and was third in home runs at home? The Brewers. And who has their top two starting pitchers toeing the rubber in games 6 and 7? The Brewers.
Milwaukee loves playing at Miller Park, and Craig Counsell should have the Brewers’ full arsenal of pitchers at his disposal (besides Brandon Woodruff, who threw 70 valiant pitches on Wednesday). Josh Hader and Corey Knebel have been lights out in the postseason and will be on multiple days rest by the time Game 6 rolls around. The same goes for Jeremy Jeffress. Well, maybe not the lights out part, but he will at least be available and rarin’ to go for Friday night. All three will be coming with major heat on Friday. I’ll just say good luck to the Dodgers hitters now.
The Brewers will still need length and dominance from Miley and Chacin, but they have been up to the challenge so far. In 91 innings for the Brewers this year, Miley has posted a sterling 2.27 ERA and is yet to allow a run in the postseason. Chacin was the workhorse in the regular season – he finished 10th in the NL in innings pitched – and he has been even better in October, matching Miley’s 10 1/3 scoreless innings to the tee.
If both Miley and Chacin can successfully work into the sixth inning, there is a clear roadmap for Counsell to cobble together the final outs with Hader, Knebel and Jeffress.
Plus, this team has had the flair for the dramatic throughout 2018. The Brewers led the NL in one-run wins (33), and they certainly led all of baseball in heart attack finishes.
On Sept. 1, Milwaukee was five games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central and had less than a five percent chance of winning the division. So what did they do? They rattled off one of the best months in franchise history, finished the second half on a seven-game winning streak and then beat the damn Cubs in a Game 163 tiebreaker to not only win the division, but to capture the top seed in the entire league. And then, just for good measure, they tossed in a three-game sweep of the Rockies in the NLDS, too.
The Brewers have certainly hit a speed bump over these past four games. But the last time Milwaukee lost three out of four (Sept. 15-18), they then went on to win 14 of the next 15. This team can get hot in an instant, especially in front of the rowdy, towel-waving Miller Park faithful. The Brewers need the noise this weekend, but there is little doubt the Milwaukee fan base will give anything but its most full-throated, ear-splitting, headache-inducing support. This team thrives under pressure and has played its best baseball with its back against the wall. I picked the Brewers in seven before the series; let’s just say I like where I’m sitting.
So do what you have to do. Watch your favorite Brew Crew montage. Bring out your lucky Hank the Dog bobblehead. Dust off your old 1982 Robin Yount jersey, plug in that Bob Uecker alarm clock or crack open your preferred local craft beer.
Just don’t give up hope.