Coun­sell’s faith re­paid

Closer Jef­fress re­turns to form af­ter shaky Game 1

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Den­nis Pun­zel

MIL­WAU­KEE — The Brew­ers weren’t just blow­ing smoke when they ex­pressed con­fi­dence in closer Jeremy Jef­fress af­ter his rough out­ing Thurs­day night in Game 1 of the NL Divi­sion Se­ries.

They proved that Fri­day night when they turned Game 2 over to him, cling­ing to a 1-0 lead over the Rock­ies and need­ing two in­nings from him.

Jef­fress proved that faith was not mis­placed by fin­ish­ing the game and pre­serv­ing a 4-0 vic­tory to give the Brew­ers a 2-0 edge in the se­ries head­ing into Game 3 on Sun­day in Den­ver.

Man­ager Craig Coun­sell in­sisted his con­fi­dence in Jef­fress never wa­vered af­ter he blew a save op­por­tu­nity the pre­vi­ous day, al­low­ing two runs in the ninth in­ning.

“Be­fore the se­ries I’d said that this is a rested guy that we’re go­ing to need to carry a heavy load this se­ries,” Coun­sell said. “(Game 1) was not part of the equa­tion for me. He’s an All-Star. He’s been one of the dom­i­nant re­liev­ers in this league this year.

“There was no hes­i­ta­tion at all. 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. You get thrown right back in the fire af­ter Game 1 of the play­offs where you gave up some runs, and you’ve got to have a lit­tle for­ti­tude. And know­ing that you’ve got to get six outs, that’s not easy. I’m proud of him for han­dling it well and do­ing a nice job.”

That sort of be­lief means ev­ery­thing to Jef­fress, who G1: G2: G3: G4: G5: was de­ter­mined to re­ward it this time.

“I can’t put it into words, the con­fi­dence that Coun­sell has for me,” said Jef­fress, who had 15 saves dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son as he took over the closer role the sec­ond half of the sea­son. “I’m grate­ful. To see those two in­nings in front of me just gave me even more con­fi­dence to know I’ve got a lot of work to do.

“These games are very im­por­tant, and we’ve got to have a short-term me­mory to go back out and just at­tack guys.”

Out­side of Jef­fress’ sketchy in­ning in Game 1, the Brew­ers’ pitch­ers have been suc­cess­ful at­tack­ing the Rock­ies’ hit­ters, hold­ing them score­less in the other 18 in­nings of the se­ries.

Rock­ies man­ager Bud Black knows what his team is up against in Jef­fress.

“He’s got a big arm with ve­loc­ity and move­ment and a good break­ing ball and a good split, so that tells you a lit­tle bit of what this guy is made of,” said Black. “I don’t know this fel­low, but to bounce back and come back and pitch two in­nings and to put up a cou­ple ze­roes, it says a lit­tle bit about the makeup of this kid.”

Right-han­der Jhoulys Chacin, pitch­ing on three days’ rest for the first time in his ca­reer, took care of the first five in­nings, work­ing his way out of trou­ble in the first and third in­nings.

“He was mag­nif­i­cent,” Coun­sell said.

MORRY GASH/AP

Brew­ers closer Jeremy Jef­fress re­acts af­ter get­ting Ryan McMa­hon to ground out to end Game 2 on Fri­day night.

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