Brewers sweep Rockies with another shutout, advance to NLCS
DENVER — The Milwaukee Brewers are getting pretty good at celebrating.
For the third time in just less than two weeks, the Brewers popped the corks off champagne bottles and reveled with each other after dismissing another opponent and taking another step toward their ultimate goal.
This time, it was a date in the National League Championship Series. It was an invitation earned after the Brewers finished off a three-game sweep of the NLDS in convincing fashion Sunday afternoon, extending their winning streak to 11 games by shutting out the Colorado Rockies 6-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 49,658 at Coors Field.
“It’s a great feeling,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “I told the guys, we’ve earned the right to play to go to a World Series. And that’s a really, really special feeling.”
That feeling likely wouldn’t exist were it not for a pitching staff that has defied skeptics all year but was dominant during the three-game series, allowing just two runs over 28 innings and none over the final 20.
No team has ever scored fewer runs during an NLDS and only the Texas Rangers, who scored just one run against the New York Yankees in the 1999 ALDS scored fewer. The Rockies batted .146 during the series (14-for-96) and managed only one hit in 17 occasions with runners in scoring position.
“We knew what we were in for,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “It’s been a good group all year, and they’ve demonstrated it. They really did.”
Sunday marked Wade Miley’s turn to keep it going, and he didn’t disappoint. The Brewers left-hander scattered three hits and a walk over 4⅔ scoreless innings. He left the game with a 2-0 lead after Christian Yelich drew a leadoff walk and scored in the first inning and Jesus Aguilar padded the lead with a solo homer in the fourth.
“He did a beautiful job keeping them off balance,” Counsell said of Miley. “I thought his curveball was really effective today. He got through their lineup two times very effectively, and the middle of their lineup I thought was going to be really challenging for Wade today, but he did a really nice job against (Trevor) Story and (DJ) LeMahieu and (Nolan) Arenado and (Matt) Holliday. That was the key for me.”
The bullpen took over from there and maintained the shutout with four scoreless innings including a pair from rookie Corbin Burnes, who struck out two in his second appearance of the series.
“Corbin kind of pulled some big weight today and did a heck of a job,” Counsell said. “We’ve gotten so many contributions (from) down there, and they’re all pitching at such a high level that it makes your job pretty easy.”
The Brewers offense, which hadn’t exactly blown the cover off the ball through the first two games, made things even easier with a fluky but productive sixth inning.
Mike Moustakas reached on a one-out single off Scott Oberg and moved to third when Erik Kratz doubled into the right-field corner, his third hit of the day.
With Curtis Granderson pinch-hitting for the pitcher, Oberg dropped the ball while on the rubber, allowing Moustakas to score and Kratz to third on a balk. Oberg’s third offering sailed past catcher Tony Wolters, who made a desperation toss back to Oberg as Kratz slid home safely, giving the Brewers a 4-0 lead.
Orlando Arcia and Keon Broxton extended the lead with back-to-back solo home runs off Wade Davis in the ninth before Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader combined to lock down the ninth inning.
“We’ve done a good job of being in the moment as far as throwing each pitch that that moment takes and having good at-bats through that whole time,” said Kratz, who went 5-for-8 with two RBI in the first playoff series of his career. “It’s something that has given us this 11-game streak, I guess, but it’s not something that you really think about during the game.
You just think about being the guy at the moment and not really the momentum of, well, we’ll just kind of let it happen. We try to take it to them.”
Now, the Brewers are four more victories away from the World Series.
“We can taste it,” infielder Travis Shaw said. “We’re hungry, we want to get there and we know we have some work ahead of us in the next series, but we’ll be ready.”