For one-half inning anyway, the Los Angeles Dodgers got one up on the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts moved David Freese into the leadoff spot to counteract Milwaukee’s left-handed starter, Wade Miley, and the paid immediate dividends as Freese started the game with a home run.
For anyone who maybe thought David Freese batting leadoff tonight was odd: pic.twitter.com/vOF98g4aSq
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 20, 2018
It would be the Dodgers only advantage. Milwaukee immediately countered with four runs in the first inning, and never looked back in their 7-2 win to force Game 7.
Zeroing on Roberts’ decision tells how deep both he and Brewers manager Craig Counsell have gone into the gamesmanship in this series.
In Game 5, Counsell also started Miley, but only let the veteran lefty face one batter. Miley walked the left-handed batting Cody Bellinger on five pitches and that was it. This time, Roberts made sure the batter who greeted Miley was someone who often feasts against left-handed pitching. Freese fit the bill that as a career .305/.381/.467 hitter against left-handers. Freese then backed the numbers and Roberts’ decision with an impressive homer.
The home run also adds to Freese’s postseason legacy. The 2011 NLCS and 2011 World Series MVP has a history of coming up big in Game 6 of the NLCS.
Incredible but true: David Freese also homered in the first inning of the last NLCS Game 6 at Miller Park, for STL in 2011. He was named MVP and the Cardinals advanced to the World Series.
— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) October 20, 2018
More big moments and big decisions await us in Game 7. Which manager will win this long chess battle? Only time will tell.
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