The Narrative: There was certainly an expectation created by the pitching match up set for Thursday night’s Game Four of the NLCS. Probable starters Kyle Lohse and Randy Wolf wouldn’t ordinarily discourage a whole lot of gamblers from taking the over, and with the way that starting pitchers have been performing in the NLCS it’s even more understandable. However, the story of Milwaukee’s 4-2 victory, tying up the NLCS with the Cardinals at two games a piece was the pitching performance of Brewers left hander Randy Wolf.
After giving up solo home runs in the second and third inning, Wolf went into shutdown mode, delivering seven innings, giving up only six hits and a single walk, while striking out six. Jerry Hairston Jr.’s heroics (yes, you read that right) in the top of the fourth brought the Brewers back, first with a line drive double that scored Prince Fielder, and then on a brilliant slide into home off of a Yuniesky Betancourt single (yes, you read that right as well) that avoided the tag and scored the tying run.
Ryan Braun continued his incredible postseason with an RBI single in the fifth and Rickie Weeks scored an insurance run in the sixth when Ryan Theriot couldn’t make a clean play on a George Kottaras ground ball. As expected, the eighth and ninth innings were handled by Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford masterfully, and the Brewers had no cause for concern. Game Five goes tonight in St. Louis, with a rematch of the Game One starters, Zack Greinke and Jaime Garcia.
Anatomy Of Excellent Umpiring
I mentioned in the recap that the tying run was scored on a wonderful diving slide by Jerry Hairston Jr. However, some credit is due to home plate umpire Mike Everitt.
We’re always quick to criticize umpire’s for a lack of consistent strike zone, and while Everitt did an alright job of calling balls and strikes last night (the dashed lines are what umpires typically call):
However, his movement and active pursuit of a good angle to call the game tying run is worthy of a ton of praise.
I think my favourite part of the play is how ready Hairston is to argue the call in the split second before Everitt even makes it.
The Most Important Play Of The Game
The play that you see above increased the Brewers probability of winning the game by 13 %.
The Biggest Disappointment Of The Game
With one out and a base runner on third in the sixth inning, Randy Wolf struck out Ryan Theriot on four pitches. Strangely enough, no one even thought about walking him to face the pitcher. Most likely because he was playing second base and not shortstop. It decreased the Cardinals chances of winning by more than 8%.
The Shamsky Award
Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.
Matt Holliday went two for four, including this home run that barely made it over the fence in right field:
His at bats contributed 17.4% WPA to the Cardinals in what was ultimately a losing effort.
The Statistics You Won’t Believe
Prior to Randy Wolf on Thursday night, Zack Greinke was the only pitcher to last six innings in the NLCS.
Ryan Braun has 17 hits in the playoffs. The record for most hits in a single postseason is 25, by Darin Erstad in 2002 and Marquis Grissom in 1995.
The Aggravating Thing That
The Managers Yuniesky Betancourt Did
The Most Disturbing Thing To Happen Outside Of The Ballpark
Stray Observations Of The Game
Tony Clutch is not above leaning into a pitch if it means a free base.
Randy Wolf isn’t the most enthusiastic of beast mode gesture givers.
When the Brewers scored the tying run in the fourth inning, a lot of credit is due to the home plate umpire who actively put himself in the best position to see the play at the plate. He then made a great call.
After Ryan Theriot dove and turned a hard hit grounder off the bat of Prince Fielder into an inning ending double play in the top of the fifth, Fielder playfully acknowledged him. There’s just soooo much animosity between these two teams.
Nyjer Morgan is the best tobacco chewer in the big leagues. Hands down. I love watching him take a lead off of first base, crouched, with a big wad of tobacco in his mouth. It hearkens back to what my imagination supposes baseball used to be like. If only he didn’t try to ruin the game so much.
I had absolutely no idea that the K-Rod trade would be as important of a deal for the Brewers as it’s ended up.