Nottingham was in visible pain during the inning, dropping a pitch and doubling over at one point before exiting the game in favor of one of the other two catchers on the postseason roster, Game 1 starter Omar Narváez.
Of Nottingham, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, “They call it getting ‘thumbed’ in the catcher’s glove. It’s a sprained thumb, essentially. He just kept getting dinged, and there’s no way to protect it. He’s been dealing with it for probably the last two weeks. Some of our pitchers just kind of keep hitting the spot.”
The departure capped a tough two-inning stretch for Nottingham, who was frustrated along with Brewers Game 2 starter Brandon Woodruff about a close call on a two-strike pitch during Austin Barnes’ at-bat in the fifth inning. Home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott called it a ball, and two pitches later, Barnes singled for a 1-0 Dodgers lead. Three pitches after that, Mookie Betts doubled home two more runs and knocked Woodruff from the game.
As Hader took over and Woodruff walked off the field, he had words -- technically, one word -- for Wolcott, and was ejected.
“In the moment, ‘Notty’ made [the pitch to Barnes] look really, really good, and in my I thought, it was a strike,” said Woodruff, who saw otherwise on his phone once back in the clubhouse. “I didn't get the call. I needed to move on and just make a good pitch and I wasn't able to do that.”
Nottingham didn’t hit much in 2020 -- he had company in the clubhouse as far as that was concerned -- but he continued to cement himself as a reliable defensive catcher after years of working on that end of his game in the Minor Leagues.
He and Woodruff will surely revisit a handful of pitches from Thursday night. Barnes’ tiebreaking hit came on a curveball that Woodruff intended to bury in the dirt, but instead left up -- a big mistake considering how much trouble Barnes had with Woodruff’s fastball. And to Betts, who’d struck out in each of his first two at-bats, Woodruff intended to put a sinker inside. He caught way too much of home plate.
“That's the thing with this lineup, especially a guy like Mookie, it's rare to get somebody out like that, especially three times in a row,” Woodruff said. “In that situation, I needed to make a pitch."
Nottingham and Woodruff both watched the final outs of the Brewers’ season on the bench.
“We were able to keep it at three runs and still had a chance in the later innings to scratch something out,” Woodruff said. “We just weren't able to do it. Obviously [Clayton] Kershaw was on top of his game tonight and it was going to be tough to score some runs off of him.”