It was a sloppy start to the National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers committed four errors and Clayton Kershaw only lasted three innings, as the Milwaukee Brewers, defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-5, in Game 1 of the NLCS at Miller Park.
In the shortest start of his 10-year postseason career, Kershaw struggled mightily in Milwaukee, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts in just three innings pitched on Friday night.
"It was a tough one," said a somber Kershaw after the loss. "Obviously, you don't want to get your team off to that start, but it happened and we'll try and win tomorrow."
Kershaw and the Dodgers got off to a great start as Manny Machado hit his third homer of the postseason on a line-drive shot that just cleared the fence in left-center, to give LA a 1-0 lead.
"I've faced him [Gio Gonzalez] quite a bit," said Machado. "In that situation, 2-0, I know he's not going to give me a heater. I thought he was probably going to go to his best pitch and I was sitting on it. That was probably one of my best swings all year."
The solo shot had an exit velocity of 116 MPH, the hardest hit home run of the season by any Dodgers player.
Machado's homer marked the first time the Brewers had trailed in the postseason, but the LA lead would be short-lived, as Milwaukee would tie the game in the most implausible way in the bottom of the third inning.
Batting for himself, Brewers relief pitcher Brandon Woodruff became the first pitcher to homer in Milwaukee history when he crushed a 92MPH fastball from Kershaw 407-feet into right-center for the game-tying home run.
"First time facing Clayton Kershaw they told me to take the first pitch to get my timing down," said Woodruff of his at-bat. "Just after the curveball, I thought he was going to attack me and I just got lucky and was able to hit it out."
Woodruff, the most improbable of heroes for the Brewers, became the first relief pitcher to homer in the postseason since Travis Wood of the Chicago Cubs in 2016, and only the third reliever to homer in a postseason game all-time, with Rosy Ryan being the other in 1924.
"I knew he could swing the bat a little bit," admitted Kershaw of Woodruff. "I didn't know he could do that, but I knew he could swing the bat a little bit for sure."
Allowing the game-tying home run to the opposing pitcher must have rattled Kershaw as the floodgates opened in a disastrous third inning that will have many former catchers scratching their heads for years to come.
Lorenzo Cain followed with a single, and Kershaw walked soon-to-be MVP Christian Yelich, to put runners on first and second with no outs. A few pitches later, Dodgers' catcher Yasmani Grandal, allowed a passed ball—his second of the game—that allowed both runners to advance.
Following the passed ball, Kershaw thought he had recorded the second out of the inning on a diving stop by David Freese at first base, but Grandal was called for catcher's interference, and the Brewers loaded the bases with just one out.
Hernan Perez followed with a fly ball to shallow centerfield, but Grandal dropped Bellinger's throw to the plate, allowing the go-ahead run to score, and both runners to move up 90-feet as Grandal became the first catcher in MLB playoff history to have two errors and two passed balls in the same game.
"You know, the catcher's interference, that was something that very freak thing, and the relay, it's a play that I know that Yasmani will say he should have made, and just, you know, giving up bases, but pretty uncharacteristic," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "But it's just one of those things that unfortunately didn't make the plays that I know he expects to make."
Kershaw was chased from the game in the bottom of the fourth inning after a walk, two singles, and an error put runners on second and third for pinch-hitter Domingo Santana who promptly laced a two-run single to left field that gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead.
Kershaw exited stage left without recording an out in the inning, and Ryan Braun knocked in Santana with an RBI single, giving the Brewers a 5-1 lead as Kershaw was charged with his fifth run of the game.
Relief pitcher Josh Hader lived up to the hype, as he pitched three scoreless innings of relief for Milwaukee.
"He [Craig Counsell] asked me if I was ready to go out for the third one and I told him 'I'm good. Let's Go!'" said Hader.
After facing big league hitters just three times since May of 2017, Dodgers reliever Julio Urias surrendered a solo shot to Brewers All-Star Jesus Aguilar in the bottom of the seventh to give Milwaukee a 6-1 lead.
The Dodgers refused to go quitely into the Milwaukee night, loading the bases for Machado in the top of the eighth before the Brewers opted for one of their many closers in Jeremy Jeffress for the hold.
Machado greeted Jeffress with a two-run single, and Matt Kemp followed with an RBI single of his own to cut the lead to 6-4, before pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig struck out to end the inning.
The Dodgers cut the lead to one, on an RBI triple by Chris Taylor with two outs in the ninth, but Justin Turner stranded the tying run at third base as he struck out against closer Corey Knebel to end the game.
The Dodgers became the first team in postseason history to have four errors and two passed balls in a playoff game.
"We didn't play clean when he was in the game," said Roberts. "The errors affected the game."
The victory was the Brewers 12th consecutive win as Milwaukee has not lost since September 22nd.
The Dodgers will look to even up the series in Game 2 as another matchup of southpaws is expected when Hyun-Jin Ryu toes the rubber opposite Wade Miley for Milwaukee. First pitch is scheduled for 1:09PM PT.
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