MILWAUKEE -- It took Yasmani Grandal no time to find the answer to his problems Friday night at Miller Park, but the solution came too late to make a difference in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.Maybe Game 2 will be better.:: NLCS schedule and results ::Grandal became
MILWAUKEE -- It took Yasmani Grandal no time to find the answer to his problems Friday night at Miller Park, but the solution came too late to make a difference in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
Maybe Game 2 will be better.
:: NLCS schedule and results ::
Grandal became the first catcher in postseason history to allow two passed balls and two errors in the same game. Three of his mistakes came in the span of six pitches in the third inning, when he allowed a passed ball, committed catcher's interference and allowed a throw home to get behind him. The miscues helped the Brewers take a one-run lead in their 6-5 victory over the Dodgers.
"I don't think that we came out flat," Dodgers left fielder Chris Taylor said.
But Grandal came out flat-footed. He knows that, because after he allowed a passed ball in the first inning and another in the third, he peeked at video inside Los Angeles' clubhouse.
"At times, I don't feel it, but I think I got on my heels," Grandal said. "And when you get on your heels, you can't do anything. You can't move. The first ball I went down for, I thought it was in my glove. Then all of a sudden it was behind. I was trying to figure out why. Then the second one happened and I was like, 'I really need to figure out why these balls are getting by, because I feel like they should be right in front of me.'
"I came inside, and that was pretty much it. Setup-wise I was just on my heels. I never really got to my toes. In this game, that's huge, because it allows you to move. And when you can't move, then you can do anything."
Staked to a 1-0 lead, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw opened the third inning by allowing a homer to Milwaukee reliever Brandon Woodruff. Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich followed with a single and walk, respectively. After Ryan Braun fouled out, Grandal could not block an 0-1 slider to Jesus Aguilar. Cain and Yelich advanced to third and second.
Aguilar then ripped a 1-2 pitch for a line drive to L.A. first baseman David Freese, who made a diving catch. It was a huge second out.
Except it wasn't. Aguilar's bat had hit Grandal's glove for catcher's interference, and Aguilar strolled to first.
"I didn't feel it," Grandal said. "Then obviously I came back and asked [video coordinator] John Pratt and, yeah, he said he hit me. It's a weird play. It's a slider, backdoor, coming back toward the strike zone. He's trying to pretty much get as much length in the swing as possible. You get back into the strike zone and sometimes you're going to get hit. It doesn't happen very often, but it just so happened to happen."
It was the third time this year Grandal committed catcher's interference. The last? July 21 against the Brewers at Miller Park.
Kershaw happened to be on the mound then, too.
Hernan Perez's sacrifice fly scored Cain to hand Milwaukee a 2-1 lead. Grandal whiffed on the throw to the plate from center fielder Cody Bellinger, who might have been better served throwing to third. Yelich and Aguilar advanced a base.
Kershaw struck out Mike Moustakas to end the inning, but he needed 30 pitches to get there.
"We pretty much just let him down," Grandal said of the defense behind Kershaw. "It was a matter of minimizing damage, and obviously we weren't able to do that and obviously I was a part of it. I take it upon myself to be the best I can behind the plate. There are going to be days that happens."
The defense continued to fail Kershaw in the fourth. He walked Manny Pina to start the inning. Orlando Arcia laced a single to left, but Taylor's fielding error allowed both runners to take an extra base, putting runners on second and third. Pinch-hitter Domingo Santana's single scored both runners to make it 4-1.
"We know why we lost this game. We've just got to play better defense," Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado said. "We're going to battle offensively and keep our pitchers in the game, but we've got to play better defense and control the ball."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.