Behind a great pitching effort and a timely hit, Milwaukee grabbed a 1-0 lead in its NLDS against Atlanta with a 2-1 win Friday afternoon at American Family Field.
Player of the Game Rowdy Tellez
Milwaukee’s offense was struggling. The Brewers had just two hits through six innings against Charlie Morton and had struck out nine times. But after Morton hit Avisaíl Garcia with a two-strike fastball to open the seventh, Milwaukee’s burly first baseman stepped to the plate and the crowd inside American Family Field started roaring.
Things got even louder minutes later when Tellez deposited a Morton four-seam fastball into the stands in right centerfield for a two-run homer to give Milwaukee a 2-0 run lead.
“Charlie did throw a great game. Punched a lot of us out, had good stuff,” Tellez said of Morton. “He made one mistake and we were able to get to him.”
On just their third hit of the game, the Brewers got all the offense they would need on the night.
“They always talk about blacking out or being unconscious. That’s what it was. I had that moment. As soon as it left the bat I knew,” Tellez said. “And I kind of did the Wicho (Luis Urias) blackout and flipped the bat and started jogging. It was cool. It’s crazy. Getting a standing ovation, hearing a whole, full stadium chant your name, that’s a special feeling.”
Corbin Burnes was in trouble. Milwaukee’s ace issued walks to the first two batters he faced and allowed Jorge Soler to get to third on a wild pitch. So, in the first inning of his first career postseason start the favorite to win the Cy Young Award needed some help. Tellez and catcher Omar Narvaez were there to provide it.
Ozzie Albies, the third batter of the inning, hit a shot to first base where Tellez was waiting for it. He stepped on the bag for the out and then saw Soler streaking home. The big lefty fired a ball low, and Narvaez was able to scoop it and get the tag on Soler for the double play.
“I made a terrible throw,” Tellez said. “I’ve got a good catcher back there; he’s an All-Star for that reason. Made a great tag. That whole play doesn’t happen without him. You guys giving me credit for that, I don’t know why. But he made the great play.”
It wasn’t just a great play. Manager Craig Counsell called it the play of the game and that it gave Burnes life. He would go on to pitch six innings, giving up just two hits and striking out five. But he would not have gone that deep without Tellez and Narvaez.
“No question about it,” Counsell said of the importance of the sequence. “Heads-up play. It was an incredible play by Omar. Tough hop, catch, runner coming, tag. All of it was as good as it gets.”
Rowdy's homer was the Brewers' first go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later of a postseason game since the Brewers' very first postseason series. In Game 3 of the 1981 ALDS, Ted Simmons and Paul Molitor each hit one.
— Brent Suter was not on the NLDS roster due to a minor oblique strain. It happened during Milwaukee’s series in Los Angeles last weekend. The team is hopeful Suter could return if they advance to the NLCS.
— Adrian Houser, a regular member of Milwaukee’s rotation during the season, replaced Burnes in relief and covered the seventh and eighth innings. It was his first relief appearance since the season finale last season. He got out of the first inning easy enough but did end up allowing a solo home run to Joc Pederson in the eighth.
Inside the Numbers
1-for-11 – That is what the top three players — Kolton Wong, Christian Yelich and Willy Adames —
in Milwaukee’s lineup combined to go Friday. It included five strikeouts.
3 – That is how many walks Burnes had. It is the fifth time this season he’s had that many, though all three came in the first two innings. He was spotless the final four innings he worked.
3 – That is the losing streak the Brewers snapped with the win. It was their victory postseason victory since Game 6 of the 2018 NLCS against the Dodgers. They lost Game 7 that year, the Wild Card game in 2019 and then were swept by the Dodgers last season.
Milwaukee will look to take a 2-0 lead in Game 2 on Saturday (4:07 p.m.) at American Family Field. It will be Brandon Woodruff on the mound facing Atlanta’s Max Fried.