MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers had scripted it precisely this way. This was their game. Their blueprint. Young pitchers throwing hard, challenging hitters, testing nerves. Defenders making plays all over the place. And the probable National League MVP, Christian Yelich, delivering with one big swing.This is who these Brewers are. They
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers had scripted it precisely this way. This was their game. Their blueprint. Young pitchers throwing hard, challenging hitters, testing nerves. Defenders making plays all over the place. And the probable National League MVP, Christian Yelich, delivering with one big swing.
This is who these Brewers are. They are extraordinarily confident and wildly entertaining. In lots of ways, they are a reflection of baseball in 2018.
And after it had worked out just so, after the Brewers had nursed a two-run lead into the ninth inning, when victory was within reach, when a nice orderly game, a well-played game, really a kind of classic postseason game, was almost done, something happened that reminded us why we love postseason baseball.
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That would be the Colorado Rockies. In the end, that's what happened. This baseball team pushed through the miles and the fatigue and the challenges that come up with it to do something that just may impact this NL Division Series beyond Game 1.
Three outs from going quietly into the cool Wisconsin night, the Rockies delivered a punch to the gut, erasing a two-run deficit and forcing the game into extra innings.
The Brewers would end up winning, 3-2, when Mike Moustakas singled in Yelich with two outs in the 10th inning Thursday night, sending most of the 43,382 at Miller Park into a wild celebration.
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Yelich's two-run home run in the third inning had gotten the Brewers going, and after that lead got away, it was his falling into an 0-2 hole and then drawing a walk in the bottom of the 10th that put Moustakas at the plate for the game-winner.
"Obviously it's higher stakes," Yelich said. "There's more eyes watching. The atmosphere is a little bit crazier, but at the end of the day, you're trying to remind yourself and trying to focus on being in the moment, being in the present and not getting consumed with everything around you."
But the Rockies showed the world why they are here. They were playing in their fourth city in five days -- from Denver to Los Angeles to Chicago to Milwaukee -- and still showing the fight of champions.
"Well, I think it just says something about our players for sure," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Where we've been the last couple weeks, having to play through those last couple weeks to get to where we are now and just the daily grit and drive that these guys show. I mean, it's showing up. It showed up today late.
"But that's sort of the characteristic of this group, that they play hard. I know it's overplayed a little bit, but this group truly plays hard, and it's awesome. It's awesome to see."
In the end, though, he got no points for getting close. To win a postseason game is difficult enough. To win it twice -- and that's pretty much what the Brewers had to do -- is extraordinarily difficult. To take a punch and then to get back up and figure out a way to win takes the heart of a champion.
"Yeah, it feels good because it was a big punch because of the way that we pitched the whole game, because we pitched beautifully the whole game," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "You know, it's a punch that knocks you back a little bit, right?"
Until the top of the ninth inning, the Brewers had ridden Yelich's two-run home run in the third inning and four pitchers to a 2-0 lead in the ninth.
Counsell took the positives from that ninth inning, pointing out that his closer Jeremy Jeffress rallied back to get out of the inning and leave two potential go-ahead runs on base.
"We took that blow and a bunch of guys kind of gutted it through," Counsell said.
Until that point, his team had put on a defensive clinic with Moustakas making a nice grab of a Nolan Arenado liner in the first, with Lorenzo Cain running down a Charlie Blackmon fly ball in the sixth and with catcher Manny Pina throwing out two runners.
To make all those plays and to have all that momentum, and then to see it get away and still to somehow come back and win is what the Brewers took from the game along with a 1-0 lead in a best-of-five series.
"It doesn't get any better than that," Cain said. "With the environment here, with being able to win it, that's one you feel good about."
Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.