MILWAUKEE -- What's up with Jeremy Jeffress?
That was the question after Jeffress tweeted but didn't pitch during Monday's National League Central tiebreaker game at Wrigley Field, and again Thursday after he endured his first rough outing in more than a month in the Brewers' 3-2, 10-inning win over the Rockies in Game 1 of the NL Division Series.
:: NLDS schedule and results ::
But after letting a two-run lead slip away, Jeffress stopped the Rockies' rally there, and the Brewers scored an inning later for a walk-off win to begin the best-of-five series.
"I'm human," Jeffress said. "I can't get everybody out.
"Stuff is going to happen. It just tests your will. It sees where your [guts] are, and you keep going. Don't quit."
• Rockies, Brewers open NLDS with thriller at Miller
Jeffress had not allowed a run of his own or an inherited runner to score since Aug. 29 in Cincinnati, which preceded a stretch of 11 scoreless appearances to close the regular season in which Jeffress struck out 17, scattered four singles and never allowed more than one hit in a game. He finished unscored upon in 63 of 73 regular-season appearances with a 1.29 ERA. By RE24, a metric useful for measuring relievers, Jeffress was the most valuable relief pitcher in MLB.
But the Rockies greeted him with three successive singles starting with a former Brewer, Gerardo Parra, and ending with Charlie Blackmon's RBI hit after what was initially called a ground-rule double on the first pitch of the at-bat. The Brewers challenged, and a replay showed that the baseball had landed just foul of the right-field line. Jeffress said he was sure all along.
Blackmon singled later in the at-bat to make it 2-1. After shortstop Orlando Arcia's error loaded the bases for Nolan Arenado's sacrifice fly, the teams were tied.
Jeffress wiggled out of further trouble by getting an out at the plate on David Dahl's ground ball, then struck out dangerous Trevor Story to send a tie game to extra innings.
"We had the game right where we wanted to, and I thought J.J. made some good pitches," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "They just hit some ground balls -- got a solid base hit to Parra and then they hit a couple balls to the infield. Then he made some big-time pitches to keep the score tied, really."
"You can't dwell on that stuff," Jeffress said. "You have to keep going."
Four days earlier, Jeffress was notably absent from the list of pitchers who sealed a 3-1 win over the Cubs. Fans grew worried when he responded to tweets during the game, a sign he was not available to pitch. Counsell would only say he wanted to give Jeffress rest so he could play a significant role in the games ahead.
Jeffress' agent, Joshua Kusnick, said the matter had nothing to do with drugs or alcohol. Jeffress has been open about past battles with both, and that's why some fans were concerned when they saw him tweeting during the game.
"A couple of things were bothering me that day," Jeffress said.
Was he upset he didn't pitch that day? No, Jeffress said.
"Whoever gets the ball, it doesn't matter. It shouldn't matter," he said. Later, he added: "If I made anyone feel bad or scared anybody, I apologize. I'm good though."