Mas­ter win­ners:

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Tom Hau­dri­cout

All­for-one Brew­ers demon­strate how a mod­ern team wins.

DEN­VER — Still push­ing him­self around on a leg scooter af­ter tear­ing an Achilles ten­don a few weeks back, Mark At­tana­sio was a bit tardy to the cel­e­bra­tion, but he was feel­ing no pain.

“Best pain-killer in the world – cham­pagne in the club­house!” the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers prin­ci­pal owner pro­claimed as his run­away club cel­e­brated yet again.

Three club­house cel­e­bra­tions in 12 days for the Brew­ers, all on the road. If that sounds like a lot, it is. First came merely mak­ing the play­offs, clinch­ing in St. Louis. Then came beat­ing the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in a one-game show­down to claim the NL Cen­tral crown. Now, a three-game sweep of Colorado to dom­i­nate the NLDS, capped by a con­vinc­ing 6-0 vic­tory Oct. 7 at Coors Field.

Along the way, the Brew­ers have won 11 games in a row, an un­heard-of streak of ex­cel­lence this time of year. You can’t blame them if they think noth­ing can stop them now.

In an im­pas­sioned speech to team­mates in the club­house, be­fore the cham­pagne re­ally got flow­ing, Ryan Braun pre­sented the team’s mis­sion state­ment.

“Two weeks ago in St. Louis, we came out with a goal,” Braun shouted. “The goal was to win the World Se­ries. We’ve taken steps in that di­rec­tion. Two weeks ago in St. Louis, we said let’s make this the first cel­e­bra­tion and not the last. Two cel­e­bra­tions later, we’ve got two cel­e­bra­tions to go.

“We ac­com­plished this by every­body play­ing to the best of their abil­i­ties. Every­body here is do­ing their job the best they pos­si­bly can. That’s why we’re win­ning base­ball games. Noth­ing’s go­ing to change. The lights are go­ing to get brighter. It’s go­ing to be more fun than we’ve had to this point. We will keep do­ing the same (stuff )!”

Gen­eral Ge­orge S. Pat­ton couldn’t have de­liv­ered a more mo­ti­vat­ing speech to his troops. Makes you want to go run through a wall, doesn’t it, Brew­ers fans?

The Brew­ers dom­i­nated the Rock­ies so thor­oughly, it was dif­fi­cult to di­gest. Of the 28 in­nings played in the se­ries (the first game went 10 in­nings), Colorado scored in just one, for a to­tal of two runs. That two-run out­put was the low­est in NLDS his­tory.

All the Brew­ers have heard since the end of last sea­son is that they don’t have enough pitch­ing, but that joke is on the rest of the base­ball world, not them. The bullpen once again was dom­i­nant, cov­er­ing the fi­nal 4 in­nings with­out dam­age, but the “ini­tial out-get­ters” – don’t use the word “starters” around this club – didn’t al­low one run in 12 2/3 frames in the se­ries.

Vet­eran lefty Wade Mi­ley set the tone in the clincher with 42⁄3 in­nings of three-hit ball. Then came what has been the death knell for op­po­nents this sea­son – the pa­rade from the bullpen. Re­vu­nated flame-thrower Corey Knebel. Wily vet­eran Joakim So­ria. Un­flap­pable rookie Corbin Burnes. Emo­tion-fu­eled Jeremy Jef­fress. Scary good Josh Hader.

You fall be­hind the Brew­ers, that re­lief corps comes in and puts you to bed with­out din­ner. It’s vir­tu­ally pain­less, the way they anes­thetize hit­ters.

“They stepped up, they re­ally did,” out­fielder Chris­tian Yelich said of the en­tire pitch­ing staff. “They rose to the oc­ca­sion. It goes with­out say­ing, this ball­park is a re­ally tough place to pitch.

“For Wade to come in and do what he did was un­be­liev­able. The guys in the bullpen did their job like they’ve been do­ing all year. It was an un­be­liev­able per­for­mance.” Shut out in the last two games, the Rock­ies fin­ished with a mere 14 hits, bat­ting .146 col­lec­tively with a .188 “slug­ging” per­cent­age, if you can call it that. The Brew­ers pitch­ing staff emerged with a 0.64 ERA, with 30 strike­outs over those 28 in­nings.

“We’ve pitched at a re­ally high level for some time,” man­ager Craig Coun­sell said. “To give up two runs in three games, and fin­ish it with a shutout here in the most dif­fi­cult place to pitch in base­ball ... those guys on the staff de­serve a ton of credit.

“Eleven (vic­to­ries) in a row at this time of year is not some­thing you see. It’s kind of heady stuff, to be hon­est with you. You don’t want to think about it, al­most. But what it goes to is we’re play­ing at a re­ally high level.”

That will have to con­tinue do­ing so if the Brew­ers are to get to their first World Se­ries since 1982. The next se­ries, the NLCS, will be best-of-seven, putting more pres­sure on the pitch­ing staff to piece things to­gether.

Thanks to the three-game sweep, the Brew­ers will have four days of rest and work­outs be­fore play­ing Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los An­ge­les Dodgers at Miller Park on Oct. 12. They have the home-field ad­van­tage in that se­ries as well af­ter win­ning the most games (96) dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

The Brew­ers’ next vic­tory will be No. 100 but they have no in­ten­tion of stop­ping at the cen­tury mark.

“It’s fun right now,” out­fielder Lorenzo Cain said. “You play for this ex­act rea­son, to cel­e­brate at the end. We’re still a long way from our main goal.”

These cel­e­bra­tions never get old. The Brew­ers had to wait seven years since last pop­ping cham­pagne corks in the club­house. The way they see it, they might as well do it twice more.

RUS­SELL LANSFORD/USA TO­DAY SPORT

Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers start­ing pitcher Wade Mi­ley (20) pitches dur­ing the first in­ning against the Colorado Rock­ies in Game 3 of the 2018 NLDS se­ries Sun­day at Coors Field.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.