Offense hard to come by in Braves-Brewers NLDS

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is left on third base with Orlando Arcia batting for the final out in the ninth inning with Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader finishing the Braves' last chance for a 2-1 Brewers victory during Game 1 of the NLDS series Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in Milwaukee. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Caption
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is left on third base with Orlando Arcia batting for the final out in the ninth inning with Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader finishing the Braves' last chance for a 2-1 Brewers victory during Game 1 of the NLDS series Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in Milwaukee. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

When observers looked at the Braves and Brewers’ Division Series matchup, they lauded the pitching and expected runs to come at a premium. Through two games, there haven’t been any surprises. The series has unfolded as anticipated on paper.

The teams played to a stalemate in Milwaukee, which was ultimately a win for the Braves, who can close the best-of-five series out at home with consecutive wins Monday and Tuesday. It’s now a best-of-three.

The Brewers won 2-1 in Game 1, when Charlie Morton and Corbin Burnes were exceptional and one pitch made the difference. The Braves rebounded with a 3-0 victory in Game 2 behind Max Fried, timely hitting and gutsy outings from Tyler Matzek and Will Smith.

“It’s two really well-rounded, solid clubs going at it,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said, acknowledging there haven’t been any surprises thus far. “(Saturday) we got some big hits. It was another really good ballgame.”

The starting pitching in this series has lived up to the billing. Morton and Fried have combined to allow two runs on six hits over 12 innings, striking out 18 and walking one. The Brewers’ aces weren’t quite as sharp but were effective: Burnes logged six scoreless in Game 1 despite a slow start. Woodruff allowed three runs over six innings Saturday, which wasn’t enough with Fried delivering six scoreless frames.

“I think those two pitchers (Burnes and Woodruff) are really good,” third baseman Austin Riley said. “And when guys are on, it’s tough to score runs. It really is. We didn’t get down. Came back (Saturday), faced another good pitcher (Woodruff). Kind of moved down the lineup and kept going. And we were able to come out on top.”

There have been just six runs scored in two games. Compare that to the first two contests of every other ongoing series. The Astros and White Sox have combined to score 20 runs. The Rays and Red Sox have scored 25. The Dodgers and Giants have produced 15 runs. Each series participant has scored more than three runs in at least one game — except for the Braves and Brewers.

More context: The Brewers are a Rowdy Tellez swing away from being shut over both games. The Braves, after botching two scoring chances Friday, scored twice in the third inning Saturday. Outfielder Joc Pederson and third baseman Austin Riley have hit the Braves’ two home runs.

Consider the production with runners in scoring position. The teams are a combined 1-for-18 in that department. The Braves are 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. First baseman Freddie Freeman had an RBI single Saturday with slugger Jorge Soler at second base.

Caption
Braves right fielder Jorge Soler (12) is congratulated by second baseman Ozzie Albies (1) after Soler beat the tag by Milwaukee Brewers catcher Manny Pina (9) to score on a RBI single by Freddie Freeman (5) in the third inning of Game 2 of the NLDS Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Milwaukee. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Braves right fielder Jorge Soler (12) is congratulated by second baseman Ozzie Albies (1) after Soler beat the tag by Milwaukee Brewers catcher Manny Pina (9) to score on a RBI single by Freddie Freeman (5) in the third inning of Game 2 of the NLDS Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Milwaukee. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
Caption
Braves right fielder Jorge Soler (12) is congratulated by second baseman Ozzie Albies (1) after Soler beat the tag by Milwaukee Brewers catcher Manny Pina (9) to score on a RBI single by Freddie Freeman (5) in the third inning of Game 2 of the NLDS Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in Milwaukee. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Milwaukee is 0-for-8 in such situations, including an 0-for-7 showing Saturday. The Brewers stranded two baserunners in each of the final three innings against Braves relievers.

It’s a throwback series. In an age when offense dominates MLB, these teams have reminded us of great pitching’s value. The good news for both teams: Morton, Fried, Burnes and Woodruff are off the board for Game 3, which will feature Braves right-hander Ian Anderson versus Brewers righty Freddy Peralta.

Anderson, 23, made four starts last postseason, earning a 0.96 ERA. It was a remarkable showing for the rookie, who in his 15-month career has started an NL Championship Series Game 7, division-clinching victory and, on Monday, will begin his second postseason run.

“You can’t replicate the experience,” Snitker said. “It’s like when we bring guys up from the minor leagues, I’d get called. And it’s, like, they’ve done everything here but you just never know when they get (to the majors), and that third deck (in the stadium) and things like that. Because you can’t replicate that.

“I think just the experience that Ian’s had in his short major-league career is going to fend for him well. He’s been on the biggest stage — Game 7 in NLCS. That’s pretty good for a young age. And how he handled himself was extraordinary, I thought.”

The Braves outplayed the Brewers over the first two games, but that counts for nothing except a 1-1 draw. There’s more pressure on the Brewers in Game 3, knowing a loss positions the Braves to end the series at home while a win ensures if there’s a Game 5, the Brewers will host it.

One day at a time. And Monday, the Braves will try to take command of the series.

About the Author

ajc.com

Editors' Picks