The first two games of the series between the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers have been playoff previews. The Brewers have won both in different ways, but the results, especially the one this evening, point to an obvious conclusion: the Milwaukee Brewers belong in the playoffs this year.
Last night, Milwaukee ran into a Zack Greinke buzz saw. They managed only two hits off him through five innings, and this was a day when Greinke was not in top form. He didn’t have his usual command, as he administered five walks, three of those coming in a row. Did that stop them, though? Of course not.
Jimmy Nelson kept them within striking distance, as the young stud only allowed two runs over six strong innings. Then, late in the eighth inning, the Brewers got an opportunity and they seized it. Lyle Overbay delivered a clutch hit off the bench to drive in three, and Milwaukee went on to win.
You know you are watching a special team when they can pull it together and completely turn the tide in a ballgame, especially when the opponent is one of baseball’s strongest clubs.
I was listening to MLB Network Radio while on a small road trip, and the XM station was featuring the show “Inside Pitch.” The hosts were highlighting the must-see series this weekend, and of course the Brewers and Dodgers came up. One of the hosts made a very good point in reference to the matchup between Yovani Gallardo and Clayton Kershaw. He noted that in the postseason, if you can’t beat Kershaw, you’re likely not going to win the series. What with the changes of venue and off days, Kershaw is pitching several series games for the Dodgers, and he’s almost always victorious. He’s the best there is, after all. Teams that will go up against an ace like Kershaw have to at least beat him once, because that gives them the advantage going further in the series.
So what did the Brewers do tonight? They got to Kershaw twice, with a two run shot by Ryan Braun and a solo bomb by Carlos Gomez, and they beat him. Kershaw still got 11 strikeouts and went the full nine, but the Brewers did enough to beat him. Gallardo was masterful in a game where he had to be. If the Brewers can beat Kershaw, they can beat anyone else on the Dodgers’ rotation.
But we’re not just talking about beating the Dodgers here. No. This scenario extends to all playoff teams the Brewers would have to face. Beating an opposition’s ace, or their trump card, if you will, is a huge win and morale boost going further in a series. It’s not just about that first win of the series. It’s having the knowledge when that ace has to be put up again in an elimination game, the Brewers can win. We beat you once, we can and will beat you again.
The Milwaukee Brewers have been beating trump cards by the handfuls lately. Kershaw, Greinke, Stephen Strasburg, Adam Wainwright, David Price. The Brewers can beat the best their opponent can offer up. And they will continue to do it in the playoffs.