ATLANTA – And in the fourth game, the offenses finally broke out.
Until Tuesday, the National League divisional series between Atlanta and Milwaukee had been nothing but throwing masterpieces, with three games that saw a total of nine points. Game 4, the first in the series with a season’s fate on the line, has finally brought out the bats.
By the end of the night, after an evening of power and punches and, yes, a few doses of pretty good pitching, Atlanta had beaten Milwaukee, 5-4, and had qualified for the League Championship Series. national for the second year in a row.
“The races were tough to come by,” said Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman, “but when they were tough we still had two wins and we were able to do it today.”
Indeed, Atlanta showed on Tuesday that it can do it even after failing to strike first.
In the fourth inning, Avisail Garcia, the right-handed outfielder from Milwaukee, jumped on a fastball that Charlie Morton shot to start the batter for a left single. Morton’s errant take-out attempt saw Garcia move up to second, where he remained when Luis Urias walked five lengths.
With one out, Omar Narváez lifted a fastball down the middle for a single that scored Garcia and placed Urias in third. Lorenzo Cain, the No.8 Milwaukee hitter, quickly turned a lead into a single to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead.
Two runs were enough for Milwaukee on Friday. Saturday and Monday they were enough for Atlanta.
But any ambitions Milwaukee had to keep that trend going were gone in the lower half of the inning, when, with bases loaded, Atlanta hitter Eddie Rosario strutted into the batter’s box.
A cursor has failed. A fastball became a called strike. Another fastball, another foul, still a 0-2 count with two outs. Rosario then brought Truist Park to life, connecting with a fastball and sending it to a shallow cross, tying the game.
Of course, Rowdy Tellez, the man whose home run against Morton had decided Game 1, was expected in the fifth inning. Christian Yelich single. Garcia swung and missed three consecutive AJ Minter sliders.
Minter stuck the cursor as Tellez approached. This time he touched 448 feet for a home run.
Atlanta offered a much less glamorous or quick response in their half of the fifth – it included the choice of a defensive player over Joc Pederson’s slightly cooled but still hot bat and a straight single – but again equalized the game.
“You can say that the team is hungry to take the plunge and keep moving forward and improving,” said Rosario.
Milwaukee turned to one of his formidable faces, left-handed reliever Josh Hader, in the eighth. With an earned-run average of 1.23 in 60 games this season, as well as his third All-Star selection, Hader had dazzled Milwaukee as a striker machine.
But Freeman doesn’t succumb to dazzling easily.
Hader, whose slider had previously tormented two Atlanta hitters on Tuesday, offered up another and Freeman took a wide, powerful cut.
Milwaukee’s hopes of staying alive in the series waned when the ball hit the left-center stands – as seemed destined to do from the moment Freeman made contact – and the stadium, which already had echoed through the night with the chants and taunts of Atlanta. , roared again.
“I wasn’t sure if he was getting happy with the slider,” Freeman said of Hader, “but I just looked up to keep from swinging the slider down and away, and luckily he threw one up there. “
Atlanta and Milwaukee entered Game 4 testing dramatically different approaches to the playoff starting pitches. Atlanta sent Morton, who pitched six innings in Milwaukee on Friday, after manager Brian Snitker cited the teachings of a man who coached as early as the 1950s to explain his choice in the 21st century.
“It wasn’t a short rest – it was the norm, until we didn’t get it,” Snitker said. “Back in Johnny Sain’s day, when he was a pitching coach, he was everything for guys who got two days and then pitched. “
Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell, it seemed, could hardly entertain such a thought, let alone follow through: He ruled out the deployment of Corbin Burnes, the Cy Young Award contender who allowed two hits in six innings on Friday, for the must of the Brewers. match.
“He wanted to do it, but we had to make sure he was physically ready to do it,” said Counsell, whose club had relied heavily on a six-man rotation during the regular season, before the game. “He’s just not ready to do it.
That left Milwaukee with Eric Lauer, a southpaw who last pitched on Oct. 1, to face an Atlanta roster filled with right-handed people.
Morton lasted three innings and a third and allowed two runs on four hits. He took out five. Lauer didn’t stay any longer; he pitched three and two-thirds innings, allowing four hits and allowing two runs.
Atlanta used seven pitchers on Tuesday, and Milwaukee sent five to the mound in a game that lasted nearly four hours.
“At the moment we are all really disappointed,” Counsell said afterwards. “And it’s hard to get over the disappointment right now sitting here right now. It’s just. But I think in the end we had big goals. We haven’t quite got there. But you win 95 games, it’s a special group, and they’ve accomplished some special things. “
In the Atlanta clubhouse, champagne was spewing – and planning for the NLCS, which begins on Saturday, would wait a bit into the future.
Hours before Tuesday’s first pitch, Major League Baseball announced that Atlanta’s first hitter, Jorge Soler, had tested positive for the coronavirus. Cristian Pache replaced Soler, who reached 0.269 for Atlanta this season after a July trade from Kansas City, on the divisional playoff list, and Atlanta reshuffled their roster to put Dansby Swanson atop the order. Under baseball health protocols, Soler could return during NLCS