By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, watching Game 6 of the National League Champioship Series with a full stomach after a tasty meal at The Boathouse in Troy, where the New England clam chowder rivals the chowder served at Legal Seafood in Boston. The meal was a birthday gift from good friends Murray Greenberg and Jeff Gordon.
—There will be a Game 7 in the National League Championship Series Saturday night in Miller Park in Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Brewers spotted the Los Angeles Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, then scored four in the bottom of the first and added on from there, pounding the Dodgers, 7-2, to even the best-of-seven series at three games apiece.
Wade Miley gave the Brewers 4 1/3 innings, yielding two runs, then turned it over to baseball’s best bullpen. And because of the add-on runs, Brewers manager Craig Counsell didn’t have to use his best relief pitcher, Josh Hader.
Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress and rookie Corbin Burnes held the hefty-hitting Dodgers to no runs and no hits over the final 4 2/3 innings.
—LA manager Dave Roberts batted David Freese leadoff, only the fourth time in his long career that Freese batted No. 1. And it paid off quickly.
On Milwaukee pitcher Wade Miley’s fifth pitch of the game, his first change-up, Freese propelled it 402 feet the opposite way, a home run into the right field seats.
—The 1-0 lead lasted only until Milwaukee came to bat in the bottom of the first. The Brewers put two on against LA starter Hyun-Jin Ryu on Lorenzo Cain and a walk to Ryan Braun.
Travis Shaw struck out for the second out and the Brewers then tore a page out of the book used by the American League champion Boston Red Sox.
Two-out hits. The next four Brewers hit safely and four runs crossed the plate. Jesus Aguilar doubled to right field for two runs. Mike Moustakas doubled for another run. Erik Kratz singled for a run and it was 4-0. Orlando Arcia also singled, but Wade Miley lined out to center field.
—The Brewers added a run in the second on a doubled by Christian Yelich and a single by Ryan Braun to make it 5-1.
—The Dodgers threatened in the fifth, but pushed across only one run. Miley walked Brian Dozier with one out and scored on David Freese’s double and it was 5-2.
When Miley walked Max Muncy four pitches, Brewers manager Craig Counsell went to the bullpen and brought in Corey Knebel, who usually doesn’t appear until the ninth.
He first faced Justin Turner, the potential tying run, and Turner popped to center field.
That brought up Manny Machado and Miller Park again sounded like 40,000 snarling bees. It was the same from the time Machado was introduced before the game.
Machado was fined $10,000 by MLB for kicking first baseman Jesus Aguilar in the leg on a ground out in Game 5. After that game, Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich said, “It was a dirty play by a dirty player.”
The boos assaulted Machado’s ears the entire at bat and it turns to a stadium-rocking cheer when Knebel struck out Machado to end the inning.
—Counsell had a major decision to make in the bottom of the fifth when the Brewers filled the bases with two outs. It was pitcher Knebel’s turn to bat and he hadn’t batted all season. Should Counsell pinch-hit for Knebel or should he send him up there to keep him on the mound.
He sent Knebel to the plate and, of course, he struck out, but that kept him on the mound where Counsell and the Brewers wanted him.
—Knebel hit Joc Pederson with a pitch with one out in the sixth, then retired Yasiel Puig on a fly ball and struck Austin Barnes and received a raucous standing ovation as he walked from the mound to the dugout.
—The Brewers tacked on a two-out run in the seventh on a wild pitch by Kenta Maeda. Jesus Aguilar doubled, took third on a ground ball and scored on the wild pitch to push Milwaukee to a 6-2 lead.
—The Brewers added a seventh run in the eighth after LA second baseman Brian Dozier bobbled the ball when he tried to turn an inning-ending double play. And the Dodgers paid when Aguilar singled to make it 7-2.
Those add-on runs in the seventh and eighth played right into Counsell’s hands. He didn’t have to bring in strikeout machine Josh Hader, meaning he could save him for two or three innings in Game 7.
–After Knebel’s 1 2/3 innings, Jeremy Jeffress pitched a perfect seventh and Corbin Burnes pitched a perfect eighth and the Brewers were three outs away from sending the NLCS into a one-game winner-take-all seventh game.
—Burnes, a bespectacled right hander, a rookie who didn’t make the majors until July, struck out Joc Pederson to open the ninth. It was the 134th strikeout of the series, a record for both teams in a post-season series.
Adding an exclamation point, Burnes also struck out Yasiel Puig and ended it by getting Matt Kemp to pop out in foul territory to Jesus Aguilar to end it.
—Game 7 will match LA’s Walker Buehler against Milwaukee’s Jhoulys Chacin.