DENVER -- After seeing Jesus Aguilar begin the National League Division Series with six hitless at-bats, manager Craig Counsell made a promise on Saturday: "Aggie is going to hit a home run in the playoffs, a big homer with men on base, I promise."
There wasn't anyone on base when Aguilar came to the plate with one out in the fourth inning at Coors Field on Sunday afternoon, but Aguilar nonetheless delivered the big hit his manager predicted as the Brewers clinched a spot in the NL Championship Series with a 6-0 win at Coors Field. His solo shot to left field off German Marquez proved to be the first of many signs that Milwaukee's lineup is rounding into form at the right time.
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Before pouring beer on anyone whose path he crossed in a celebratory clubhouse, Aguilar broke out of his mini-slump with a homer. Lorenzo Cain also recorded his first hit of the series. Unlikely postseason hero Erik Kratz went 3-for-4. Finally, Orlando Arcia and Keon Broxton punctuated the Brewers' highest-scoring game in October with back-to-back homers in the ninth off Rockies closer Wade Davis.
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"You want everybody to go into these four days off feeling really good about themselves. Offensively today, a lot of guys had good games," said Ryan Braun, who had two hits in the clinching victory and hit .385 in the NLDS. "Orlando Arcia hit a big homer for us. Broxton hit a big homer for us. Aggie hit a big homer for us. LoCain had a couple great at-bats and got on base for us.
"Hopefully everybody goes into these off-days feeling better about where we're at offensively. We know we can be better than we've been over the past few games."
Christian Yelich did most of the damage before Mike Moustakas ended Game 1 with a walk-off single. The bottom of the lineup, including Kratz, came up big during Milwaukee's 3-2 victory in Game 2. Yelich was the only one of the Brewers' eight starting position players to finish Sunday's game without a hit.
"We really do expect to be better than we've been offensively. We haven't really run the bases really well, either. We've made plenty of mistakes," Braun said. "The biggest thing is we believe in each other and we truly believe that we'll find a way to win every day -- somehow, some way, we've done that for the last two weeks."
The Brewers pitched their way to a sweep, shutting out the Rockies twice, but they know they'll have to be firing on all cylinders to get past the NLCS.
"We're definitely confident. Want to be more consistent scoring runs," Cain said. "That starts with me. I've got to do better."
Cain was 0-for-10 in the series before hitting a one-out single to right in the fifth inning. After seven at-bats without a hit, Aguilar jumped on the first pitch he saw from Marquez in the fourth, an 82.6-mph curveball, and launched it a projected 418 feet with an exit velocity of 103.3 mph, according to Statcast™.
With his fifth home run in seven career games at Coors Field, Aguilar gave starter Wade Miley a little breathing room. Considering the way the Brewers have pitched lately -- and their 74-28 record when scoring first this season -- it might have felt like more than a little.
"The goal was to get ahead early. We knew if we got ahead early, we'd put the pressure on them," Braun said. "With the bullpen that we have, obviously, if we can get ahead, we feel incredibly confident we'll be able to hold that lead."
They wound up adding to it in the sixth with a wild two-run rally that included a run-scoring balk and wild pitch during the same at-bat. Arcia and Broxton put the finishing touches on a convincing victory with the Brewers' first back-to-back homers in postseason history. They celebrated together, too, dousing everyone they could with a bottle in each hand.
"We've used the word depth a lot, and sometimes it's -- you feel like it's just a buzz word, but in our case, I think it's really important," Counsell said. "I think today was a great example of it, and what a cool way to win it because of our depth."