By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after watching Ohio State stumblebum its way to a 16-point victory over a young, inexperienced Minnesota team, wondering how many brave gamblers gave the 31 1/2 points that Las Vegas handed to the Golden Gophers.
—After treating Game 1 of the National League Championship Series as a bullpen day, during which Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell used up his bullpen, Counsell needed a long and solid start Saturday in Game 2 from starter Wade Miley.
And he got it. Miley pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up no runs and only two hits. Perfect. Except, why oh why with the bullpen cupboard empty, did he pull Miley in the sixth inning? Miley gave up a two-out single, only the second Los Angeles Dodgers base runner.
That meant Counsell had to cover 3 1/3 innings with an exhausted bullpen and, sure enough, it blew up.
After Miley turned over a 3-0 lead, the bullpen imploded. Justin Turner, the bearded redhead originally signed by the Cincinnati Reds, struck out four times in Game 1’s 6-5 loss.
This time he launched a two-run home run in the eighth inning off Jeremy Jeffress to lift the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory, leveling the NLCS at one game apiece and ending Milwaukee’s 12-game winning streak.
—There were a couple of “take that” moments in the top of the first inning. LA’s Justin Turner struck out four times in Game 1, but singled with one out in the first.
David Freese then drove one toward the right center wall and it looked as if it was a two-run home run. Instead, center fielder Lorenzo Cain went above the wall and snatched it back.
Cain was unhappy with himself in the ninth inning of Game 1. Chris Taylor drove one toward the same spot. After a long run, Cain leaped but the ball bounced off his glove for a run-scoring triple that pulled the Dodgers to within a run. After the game Cain said with a grin, “I’m going to have a talk with my glove before tomorrow’s game.” Whatever he said worked.
—In Game 1, Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff shocked the Dodgers with a home run in the third inning that tied the game, 1-1.
On Saturday, Milwaukee pitcher Wade Miley doubled down the third base-line with one out in the third, his first extra base hit in five years. But Lorenzo Cain struck out on a bad pitch and Christian Yelich grounded to first.
—Miley pitched three straight 1-2-3 innings, keeping LA bats sheathed. Then he became part of his team’s ice-breaker in the fifth.
First, No. 8 hitter Orlando Arcia homered over the center field wall.
Miley worked LA starter Hyun-Jin Ryu to a full count and lined a single to center field. Lorenzo Cain doubled off the left field wall, ending Ryu’s day in favor of Ryan Madson. Christian Yelich was walked intentionally to fill the bases and Miley sprinted home when Ryan Braun grounded out to shortstop and the Brewers led, 2-0.
—Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell is a tough guy to please. Miley retired 16 straight until he gave up a two-out single in the sixth to Chris Taylor, only the second LA base-runner. And Counsell removed Miley lickety-split, as quickly as Counsell could reach the mound. It worked, for the moment. Corbin Burnes came in to retire Justin Turner on a deep fly to center.
–While everything Counsell does seems to work, everything that Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts tries seems to backfire. Roberts replaced Ryan Madson with Alex Wood for the bottom of the sixth. He struck out Mike Moustakas to start the inning, then Travis Shaw homered over the center field wall for a 3-0 Milwaukee lead.
—Counsell permitted Burnes to go back out for the seventh and he walked pinch-hitter Max Muncy and Manny Machado singled to left — two on, nobody out. Cody Bellinger singled for a run and it was 3-1 — two still on, none still out.
That was it for Burnes and next up was Jeremy Jeffress, who struggled in his appearance in Game 1.
Pinch-hitter Joc Pederson blooped a single into right field, filling the bases with no outs. Yasiel Puig fouled off three 1-and-2 pitches before he struck out. Puig responded by breaking his bat over his knee as he returned to the dugout.
Catcher Austin Barnes, who hit .205 this season, was next and he worked the count full and walked, forcing in a run that cut Milwaukee’s lead to 3-2 — bases still loaded, one out.
Yasmani Grandal, the last LA player left on the bench, strolled to the plate as a pinch-hitter. Game 1 was forgettable for catcher Grandal as he committed two passed balls and an error. Grandal’s misery continued when he hit into an inning-ending double play.
—Counsell, with few options, sent Jeffress back out for the eighth and it was a Wisconsin disaster. Chris Taylor started the inning with an infield hit. Justin Turner saw a juicy 2-and-0 split-finger and deposited it into the left field seats, a two-run home run that gave LA the lead, 4-3.
—There was excitement in the eighth when the Brewers put a runner on base with two outs and LA’s Kenta Maeda came in to face pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson. Maeda fell behind 3-and-0, threw a strike, then quickly craned his neck toward right field when Granderson drove one deep, deep, deep. But right fielder Yasiel Puig caught it on the warning track to end the inning.
—LA closer Kenley Jansen hasn’t had a monster year as he has in previous seasons, but still a strong 38 for 41 in save opportunities with a 3.01 ERA. It was his time in the ninth inning, so there he was, asked to finish it off and record his 15th career post-season save.
Hernan Perez walked with one out on a full count, putting the potential tying run on first with no outs. Lorenzo Cain struck out on three pitches. With a 0-and-2 count on Christian Yelich, Perez stole second. Yelich grounded out to third to end it and the NLCS moves to Los Angeles for the next three games.