MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Brewers are one win away from playing for the National League pennant. The Crew used a three-run eighth inning to put away the Colorado Rockies late Friday afternoon in a 4-0 win in Game 2 of the NLDS. It left Milwaukee up 2-0 in the best-of-five series as it shifts to Colorado on Sunday for Game 3.
Here’s what we saw:
Redemption for Jeremy Jeffress
Roughly 24 hours after blowing a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning of a game Milwaukee ended up winning, Jeremy Jeffress sat in the Brewers’ media interview room, his daughter Jurnee on his lap, with a big smile on his face. The veteran had just pitched two scoreless innings, including the eighth when the game was still just 1-0.
“It just shows the confidence, the team, the managers, all the coaches have in me,” Jeffress said. “But you’ve got to have a short-term memory in that bullpen, especially with these high-leverage games.”
Some managers might have flinched at putting their guy back into that high pressure situation right away, but Craig Counsell did not.
“He’s an All-Star. He’s been one of the dominant relievers in this league this year. There’s no hesitation at all,” Counsell said. “He is a guy that we’ll continue to count on and are going to need to make a really good run. I’m proud of him.”
The manager on the other side, Colorado’s Bud Black, was impressed as well.
“I don’t know this fellow,” Black said of Jeffress, “… but to bounce back and come back and pitch two innings and put up a couple zeros, it says a little bit about the makeup of this kid.”
It does, indeed. Counsell said earlier in the week that he was going to put a little bit more on Jeffress’ back during the series and that meant coming right back to him after such a gut punch on Thursday. He handled it well and delivered for Milwaukee.
“I can’t put it into words the confidence that Counsell has [in] me,” Jeffress said. “It’s fun. I’m enjoying every single moment, and that shows.”
Thank you, Jhoulys
Jhoulys Chacin came through on Monday with a big-time effort in Game 163 to help Milwaukee beat Chicago and win the NL Central. Called upon after just three days rest, the righty once again provided the boost the Brewers needed.
Chacin went five innings on Friday, giving up just three hits and helped get Counsell to his bullpen a day after using six pitchers and playing extra innings.
“If you go five innings and [give up] no runs, that exceeds expectations every day. He was magnificent,” Counsell said. “Short rest, five innings, that’s exactly what we needed and wanted.”
Chacin got the win in his first playoff appearance and did it against the team he started his career with. An under the radar free agent signing last winter, Chacin and the rest of the pitching staff have carried the team in the first two games of the postseason. Counsell said they are the story of the series so far and he’s right.
“Like I said before, we always believe in ourselves,” Chacin said of the pitching staff, especially the starters. “We never care what other people say outside the clubhouse.”
Biggest hit of his career
Erik Kratz was not seen as much more than just a backup when Milwaukee acquired him via trade with the New York Yankees in mid-June. But he’s played a significant role in recent months and was back at it again on Friday.
Following another big Mike Moustakas RBI to make it 2-0 in the eighth, Kratz came up with the bases loaded and two outs. He battled Rockies’ reliever Chris Rusin and won, lifting a two-run single to left field. It proved to be the biggest hit of the game and his career.
“I hit a homer in the Triple-A playoffs one time. That was pretty cool,” Kratz joked. “Yeah, it’s the biggest hit. Just like the strikeout [in the previous at-bat] was the biggest strikeout of my career. That’s what this moment is.”
Obviously, Moustakas has been here before with Kansas City, but the moment Kratz is referring to is ones made for unlikely heroes. That’s what Kratz was on Friday, as was shortstop Hernan Perez, who doubled twice and drove in the first run. It can’t always be Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain getting it done for the Brewers. That was never more apparent than in Game 2.