MILWAUKEE -- The last time the Brewers played a National League Division Series at Miller Park, the day ended with an energetic outfielder sitting on the floor of a champagne-soaked clubhouse wearing a S.W.A.T. team helmet on his head, trying to process what he had just done.On Thursday, the NLDS
MILWAUKEE -- The last time the Brewers played a National League Division Series at Miller Park, the day ended with an energetic outfielder sitting on the floor of a champagne-soaked clubhouse wearing a S.W.A.T. team helmet on his head, trying to process what he had just done.
On Thursday, the NLDS returned. So did Nyjer Morgan.
:: NLDS schedule and results ::
Morgan was "somewhere out in the Bahamas" when the Brewers reached out to ask whether he was interested in throwing a ceremonial first pitch. He consulted Tony Plush and the rest of his alter egos, and decided to accept. He's a dad now, and was thrilled that Game 1 fell on the eve of son Niko's first birthday.
Morgan wasn't sure what the fan reaction would be, but he knew he was "going to juice it up."
"I mean, in my eyes, I don't think I'll ever step back out on the field," Morgan said. "On top of that, just to be out there and know that this first game means so much for the team's camaraderie and what they need to do [makes me excited].
"So I'm going to do what I can do to get it going. I'm a leadoff guy."
With Niko in tow and a "T-Plush" jersey on his back, Morgan fired a strike to Ryan Braun in front of a fired-up Miller Park crowd to open Game 1 proceedings.
Morgan, who last appeared in the Majors with the Indians in 2014, said he's called it a career after playing the past few seasons in the Mexican League. He won a championship there, but nothing in his career compared to Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the D-backs, when Morgan stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning with Carlos Gomez at second base and "tickled" a walk-off single over the pitcher's mound and into center field, giving the Brewers their first postseason series victory in 29 years.
It was a moment etched into franchise history.
"I didn't realize the magnitude at the time," Morgan said. "I was young. Now that I'm older, I understand how the situation played out. … It didn't really hit me until everything was over. Now I can look it up and see it, and it still gives me chills."
Brewers family grows by one
Brewers general manager David Stearns and wife Whitney celebrated a postseason berth with a postseason birth.
Nora Ann Stearns was born Wednesday, on the eve of Game 1 of the NLDS. She made her dad a first-time father just as his team was about to play its first postseason game under his watch.
"It's been a lot of fun. I certainly recognize I've had some pretty momentous life moments, both professionally and personally, over the last 72 hours," Stearns said. "A number of people have given me advice to try to slow down as much as possible to soak it in, but that's not always easy to do. This is a pretty special moment. I want to remember it."
Chalk it up as another benefit of winning Monday's NL Central tiebreaker at Wrigley Field and securing the NL's top seed. Whitney went into the hospital Tuesday night, when the Brewers would have been playing in the NL Wild Card Game had they lost to the Cubs.
The baby was born Wednesday evening, and everyone is happy and healthy, reported Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, who even supplied data for Nora's page in the program: Seven pounds, five ounces, 20 inches.
"It's absolutely unbelievable, and he'll look back at this time in his life, I'm sure, and just be like, wow, that all happened in the same week?" said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "Pretty cool. He's got to be on cloud nine -- hopefully with a pillow, too, up there. He's probably a little tired."
"Only David Stearns," said Attanasio, "could figure out how to get a team back to the playoffs in two years and then have a baby come right in between clinching a division spot and the first game."
Chacin to start on short rest
Jhoulys Chacin has never pitched in the postseason, and he has never started a game on short rest. Both things will change Friday, when he starts Game 2 for the Brewers, four days after pitching into the sixth inning of the division tiebreaker game against the Cubs.
"I feel good, first of all," Chacin said. "My last five, six games, I haven't thrown that many pitches in games. I think that I'm just well to go. It's always a challenge to pitch on three days' rest instead of four, but like I say, I feel well-rested, and I feel I'm up to the challenge."
Chacin, the Brewers' leader in starts (35), victories (15) and strikeouts (156), held opponents to the seventh-lowest average (.220) among NL qualifiers, and the team went 23-12 when he took the mound.
He'll be pitching against the team that raised him. He signed with the Rockies out of Venezuela in 2004, and he pitched in 124 big league games for them through 2014. Facing Colorado in the postseason, he said, would be "special."
Just getting the nod was special. The Brewers plucked Brandon Woodruff from the bullpen to start Game 1, and they potentially could do something similar for Game 3 on Sunday at Coors Field, depending on the status of the relief corps.
"I feel that we're here because the bullpen that we have," Chacin said. "But I also feel that none of the guys on the starting rotation feel that they're out. It's just a short series, and they know -- we all know that if we go to the National League Championship Series, they know they're going to be in. I feel that every guy is part of what we're doing right now, and they're ready."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.