Re­liever’s homer for Brew­ers opens flood­gates against Dodgers in Game 1

Santa Fe New Mexican - - SPORTS -

mo­ment that opened the flood­gates for the Brew­ers. Four runs later, the Brew­ers had chased Ker­shaw from the game.

In their first NLCS ap­pear­ance since 2011, the Brew­ers looked com­fort­able and care­free. The Dodgers, mak­ing their third straight NLCS ap­pear­ance, and their fourth in six years, played slop­pily un­til they ral­lied late in the game.

For all of his reg­u­lar-sea­son suc­cess, Ker­shaw does not have a par­tic­u­larly stel­lar post­sea­son ré­sumé. He went into the game with an 8-7 record over 13 post­sea­son se­ries and, on Fri­day, pro­duced the short­est play­off out­ing (three in­nings) of his ca­reer.

Ker­shaw’s com­mand was not sharp, and the Brew­ers’ hit­ters did not bite on balls out­side the strike zone. Staked to a 1-0 lead by a home run from Manny Machado, Ker­shaw lost it to Woodruff. Then a Her­nan Perez sac­ri­fice fly drove in Lorenzo Cain and dou­bled the Brew­ers’ lead.

As it has all post­sea­son, ev­ery­thing seemed to go the Brew­ers’ way.

With Manny Pina on base af­ter a walk in the fourth in­ning, Or­lando Ar­cia sin­gled to left field, but Chris Tay­lor could not field the ball cleanly, giv­ing each run­ner an ex­tra base. This proved crit­i­cal when the next bat­ter, pinch hit­ter Domingo San­tana, sin­gled off a fast­ball down the mid­dle of the strike zone and drove both run­ners home. Af­ter that, Ker­shaw was done.

Then, af­ter San­tana was ruled out on an at­tempt to steal sec­ond, Brew­ers man­ager Craig Coun­sell chal­lenged the play. It was over­turned. Soon there­after, Ryan Braun sin­gled in San­tana for a 5-1 lead. Je­sus Aguilar added a solo homer in the sev­enth to push the lead to 6-1.

Tay­lor was not alone in un­der­min­ing the Dodgers and Ker­shaw. Dodgers catcher Yas­mani Gran­dal com­mit­ted two passed balls and two er­rors, in­clud­ing a catcher’s in­ter­fer­ence, all by the third in­ning.

Mil­wau­kee, on the other hand, played soundly and ag­gres­sively. As the Brew­ers have shown through­out this sea­son, they are solidly among the teams that want to move away from the tra­di­tional in­ter­pre­ta­tions of start­ing and re­lief pitcher. So af­ter starter Gio Gon­za­lez gave up the home run to Machado and com­pleted the sec­ond in­ning, Coun­sell told Woodruff to take Gon­za­lez’s place on the mound and in the bat­ting or­der.

Woodruff fired two elec­tric in­nings, strik­ing out four and flash­ing a 97 mph fast­ball.

Josh Hader, the star re­liever, fol­lowed with three spot­less in­nings. Their heirs in the eighth in­ning ran into some trou­ble, al­low­ing three runs to ne­ces­si­tate an early ap­pear­ance by closer Jeremy Jef­fress. Corey Knebel closed out the win in the ninth but not be­fore the Dodgers pulled within a run. They had a run­ner on third as Justin Turner struck out to end the game.

Be­fore Woodruff could take the mound, the pitcher’s No. 9 spot in the bat­ting or­der led off the bot­tom of the third in­ning.

While in the mi­nor leagues, Woodruff, a Brew­ers 11th-round pick in the 2014 draft, swung the bat well for a pitcher. Two sea­sons ago in Class AA, he hit .292 (7 for 24) and blasted a home run.

This sea­son with the Brew­ers, he went 2 for 8 with a home run. Then came Fri­day’s shot, off a three-time Cy Young Award win­ner.

Af­ter the ball bounced off the rail­ing be­yond the cen­ter field fence, Miller Park erupted and Woodruff raced around the bases.

Run­ning past first, he turned to­ward the home dugout, screamed and pumped his arms. Ker­shaw looked down and away. The home run was mea­sured at 407 feet.

In the dugout, Gon­za­lez, who would have been bat­ting in­stead of Woodruff, bounced up and down with his arms in the air.

The Dodgers, mak­ing their third straight NLCS ap­pear­ance, played slop­pily un­til they ral­lied late.

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