MILWAUKEE - Ozzie Albies gave away the game plan, not that it was a secret. It’s what teams do when facing nearly every pitcher, especially an exceptional one. The Brewers’ Corbin Burnes might win the Cy Young.

In Game 1 of their National League Division Series on Friday, the Braves didn’t do much against him – their first hit came in the fifth inning – but they made him work.

Their first two hitters – Jorge Soler and Freddie Freeman – saw 16 of Burnes’ pitches in the first inning. Both walked. Burnes would escape the first, but 22 pitches were required. From then on, the question was how far could he go. The answer: six innings, having allowed but two hits. After 91 pitches, his day was done.

Against such a pitcher, Albies said, speaking before the game, the idea is to “give them (as many) quality (at-bats) as we can, to (make them) go through their pitches and let them come to the zone so we can be aggressive.”

The Braves never got to the part where they did damage against Burnes. Come the seventh inning, they weren’t facing Burnes anymore. Brewers manager Craig Counsell pinch-hit for his starting pitcher in the sixth. It isn’t that Milwaukee doesn’t have a good bullpen – it does – but the Brewers are missing set-up man Devin Williams, who broke his hand punching a wall, and lefty Brent Suter is unavailable for the series because of a tweaked oblique. For a moment, the game felt like the Braves’ to win.

Viewed alongside Burnes, Braves starter Charlie Morton was sailing. He’d thrown 77 pitches over six innings. He’d struck out nine. He’s 37, and he throws his fastball 97 mph, much harder than he did when was a Braves prospect in his 20s. He has been superb in the playoffs for other teams recently, and now he was staging a master class for his latest employer.

Until he wasn’t.

With his third pitch of the seventh, a fastball, Morton plunked Avisail Garcia, who’d grounded to Morton and whiffed in his first two trips. With his seventh pitch of the seventh and 85th of the day, Morton delivered a fastball that Rowdy Tellez smashed high and far. It flew over the center-field fence and rebounded onto the field. The fans at American Family Field offered up a mighty roar.

Credit: Curtis Compton /

Credit: Curtis Compton /

For 84 pitches, Morton was dominant. After the 85th, his team trailed 2-0, and manager Brian Snitker was coming to get him. It didn’t seem especially fair, but October baseball often isn’t.

Said Snitker of Morton: “He was outstanding. He was as good as he can possibly get.”

And yet: The box score will show forever that Morton was the losing pitcher of Game 1.

Said Morton: “I felt like we were in a really good spot. But I hit Avi with a two-strike pitch and grooved one to Rowdy on a two-strike pitch.”

Brewers 2, Braves 1 (box score)

Snitker again: “I talked to him. He said he felt good. Ten or 15 more pitches, and I probably wouldn’t have sent him back out (for the seventh). But it’s one pitch. … I would have pinch-hit for him if we’d gotten down there (to the pitcher’s spot in the top of the inning).”

Said Tellez: “Charlie threw a great game.”

Joc Pederson halved the Braves’ deficit in the eighth with a two-out homer. Freddie Freeman drew a walk to open the ninth against the fearsome Josh Hader – introduced here as “The Flow of the Century” – and Austin Riley mustered a one-out single. But the threat died when Orlando Arcia, long a Brewer and a surprising inclusion on the Braves’ playoff roster, grounded to second. The Brewers won 2-1.

In a game of few chances, the Braves’ best came in the first. After the walks to Soler and Freeman – and a passed ball on Ball 4 to the latter – they runners on second and third, nobody out. Albies slapped a grounder to Tellez, who tagged first and threw home, not well, but catcher Omar Narvaez took it on one hop and slapped his mitt on the oncoming Soler. Double play.

That changed the game. Burnes settled. Morton was brilliant. One pitch undid everything. The Braves trail 1-0 in a best-of-five series. Win Game 2, and they’ll have a chance to close it at Truist Park. Lose Game 2, and this could be over soon.