By the time Walker Buehler walked back to the mound for the top of the second inning at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers had already provided him with a two-to-nothing lead.
Buehler and the Dodgers know that the Brewers possess one of the best closer's in baseball in left-hander Josh Hader. That's why getting out to an early lead, and not allowing Hader to enter the game with one, is so vital.
"Obviously their bullpen is a strength for them and we remember that from 2018," said Buehler. "But more than anything, I was focused on trying to go and make a good start and keep our team in it. I had faith in our offense to go do what they do."
Ordinarily, a snafu in Game 1 of a first-round playoff series by the best team in baseball would not be considered cataclysmic, but not in the pandemic interrupted year of 2020.
Major League Baseball expanded the playoffs this season to a record 16 teams, and now the first-round wild card series is a best-of-three, buckle your seatbelt, strap in, and hold on for dear life, anxiety-ridden rollercoaster ride.
By the time the first pitch was thrown at Chavez Ravine on Wednesday night, two teams had already been eliminated from the postseason, including the Minnesota Twins, who had won an AL central-best 36 games this season.
By the time the night was over, another team saw their season end when the Cleveland Indians could not close the door on the New York Yankees. Thankfully, the highly anticipated rematch of the 2018 NLCS between the Brewers and Dodgers did not have as dramatic of a finish.
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The Dodgers jumped out to an early lead against left-hander Brent Suter, who struggled with his command in the first inning.
"I felt like I let the team down, big time," said Suter, who admitted nerves were a factor when it came to his command. "It's a very lonely feeling. It almost felt like an effect of the whole world zooming in. I couldn't make the adjustment...it's a bad, bad feeling."
Mookie Betts, made an immediate impact in his Dodgers postseason debut with a leadoff double. Four batters later, he would score when Suter walked Will Smith with the bases-loaded to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. He would walk AJ Pollock shortly thereafter and Los Angeles led 2-0.
"The first inning was a huge inning for us," said shortstop Corey Seager. "We took our walks and scratched some runs across. Then in the second inning we got back-to-back doubles, and that's how you win games."
Chris Taylor and Betts smashed Suter with back-to-back doubles to start the second inning and the Dodgers had a comfortable 3-0 lead.
"I felt like we had Suter on the ropes and we couldn't really break it open early," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts.
Despite his reputation as a phenomenal postseason pitcher, Buehler let the Brewers back into the ball game when he surrendered a two-run homer to Orlando Arcia that cut the Dodgers lead to 3-2.
"I think I made one bad pitch to Arcia," said Buehler. "I had him 0-2, I can't miss that much. I wanted the ball above his belt, and I threw it about as middle-middle as I could. It's never fun giving up the only runs, but hats off to Julio, Blake, and the bullpen."
Buehler has struggled with a blister on his right index finger throughout the season and only made eight starts this season. Despite telling reporters his blister was no longer an issue, it seemed to affect Buehler throughout the game, and he left following the fourth inning after just 73 pitches.
"It is what it is," Buehler said about the blister moving forward. "We're managing it and moving on. For me personally, I just need to get to where I want to be. I felt good about where my stuff was, but I made a bad pitch, so there's still some stuff I need to work on."
Corey Seager continued his terrific 2020 campaign with a solo shot in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Dodgers a much-needed insurance run.
The home run was the fourth of Seager's postseason career, and his first since Game 2 of the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros.
The Dodgers bullpen—one of the best in baseball—throughout the year, closed the door on the Brewers throwing five innings of shutout relief.
Blake Treinen got the hold in his first postseason appearance with the Dodgers, and Kenley Jansen recorded his 17th save of his career in the playoffs.
"It was good to see him get the job done," Roberts said of Jansen. "It just didn't seem like the stuff had the teeth tonight."
It's only fitting that in an unprecedented season amidst an unprecedented year in history, that a historic Dodgers 60-game season would come down to 2-to-3 games against a team they had not faced in over a year and a half.
Yet the urgency and renewed focus that the Dodgers have played with all season seemed to only heighten once the first pitch was thrown on Wednesday night.
"I think we've been really focused the last two-three weeks," said Roberts. "I expected our guys to come out and play with intent and focus and they did exactly that."
Game 2 is on Thursday night at 7:08 PM at Dodger Stadium.