MILWAUKEE — There will be a Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. The Milwaukee Brewers saw to that with a 7-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers to tie the series at three games apiece.
Here’s what we saw at Miller Park on Friday night:
Almost before Game 6 was done, Milwaukee was already looking toward Saturday night and the first Game 7 for the franchise since the 1982 World Series.
“There’s one option,” second baseman Travis Shaw said. “It’s win. It’s all hands on deck (Saturday). To come back here and give ourselves a chance, that’s all you can ask for.”
But the Brewers will be getting much more than just a chance. They’ll be getting a near perfect chance. Not only will Game 7 be played under their roof, they’ll be sending their top starting pitcher — Jhoulys Chacin — to the mound and have their top reliever — Josh Hader — available for as long as they need him.
“It’s all right there. It’s picture perfect,” Shaw said. “Chacin, our guy. Hader’s fresh. One win away from the World Series. One win away from [facing] Boston. We’re going to be ready to go.”
Game 6 starter Wade Miley already had Game 7 all figured out when asked about it.
“Chacin go six. Hader go three. Go to the World Series,” Miley said as reporters laughed. “[I] mapped it out.”
Chacin and Hader have been the stars of the pitching staff since Game 163 in Chicago to clinch the NL Central. Those two have pitched 25 innings over the 10 games and allowed just one run. It’s why there is so much confidence in them being rested and ready for the biggest game of the year.
“This is what we play for the whole season. This is the point we want to be at,” Hader said. “Just play everything we got. There’s no backing down at all.”
It seems likely that duo will need help from the rest of the bullpen and everyone should be available after minimal work on Friday. But Hader said he’s ready for whatever is asked of him.
“There’s no limit,” he said. “I mean, it’s Game 7. There’s no limits at all. You just have to go out and do your job.”
Crowd comes alive
The Dodgers may have thought they took the crowd out of the game when first baseman David Freese hit a solo home run to leadoff the game, but that proved not to be the case. Not after four straight hits with two outs, including a two-run double by Jesus Aguilar, set Miller Park on fire in giving the Brewers a 4-1 lead.
“You couldn’t describe it as any bigger,” manager Craig Counsell said of Aguilar’s hit that got it started. “It lifted the roof off the place, and the first inning was loud from then on.”
“It was awesome,” centerfielder Lorenzo Cain added. “The crowd showed up in a big way. We were able to get things started early on, put up some runs. They were loud the entire game.”
Milwaukee scored four runs in the first inning and nearly had more when Miley gave one a ride to center that ended up getting caught. The pitcher was actually a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks when the Brewers faced them in the 2011 NLDS. He said Friday night was the loudest he’s heard a place since then.
“Unbelievable,” Miley said. “I could feel my chest getting tight it was so loud in there.”
The crowd wasn’t just about cheering the Brewers, though. They also had Manny Machado in their sights thanks to his exploits in Game 4 that led to Major League Baseball fining him $10,000. His kicking of Aguilar’s leg as he ran down the line at first made him the No. 1 target at Miller Park and the crowd let him have it.
Machado played it up during the game, even egging fans on after his first strikeout. But with his 0-for-4 performance and a loss, he reportedly refused to really answer any questions about the boos.
Whether it was booing Machado or cheering their own teams success, the crowd was definitely into it on Friday and the Brewers are expecting a similar spark in Game 7.
“That’s something that you love,” Hader said. “You feed off that adrenaline and that energy. Hopefully (Saturday) it’s even louder and more people.”
Offense comes alive
Over their previous 22 innings of play, the Brewers had scored three runs. On Friday, they pushed across four runs in the first inning — the most by any team this postseason. It included three-straight, two-out hits, including doubles from Aguilar and Mike Moustakas, and a single from Erik Kratz.
“We needed to hit a lot better,” Shaw said. “We didn’t play very well in Los Angeles. Offensively we knew we had to get going early and I think guys were locked in from the start. That showed the first inning.”
Milwaukee didn’t rest on its laurels. The Brewers were able to push three more runs across, including another RBI for Aguilar. He finished the game 3-for-4 with 3 RBI after collecting just two in the first five games of the series.
“Guys just put together great at-bats,” said Cain, who opened the game with an infield single. “[The Dodgers] did a great job pitching against us today, but guys were just able to make solid contact against good pitching today. We’re going to need more of that (Saturday).”