Maybe Milwaukee Brewers skipper Craig Counsell is a managerial genius the likes of which we’re not ready to comprehend. And maybe Clayton Kershaw gave up the most unlikely homer you’ll see this postseason en route to another disappointing October start — this one, the shortest of his career.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Can’t predict ball,” well nobody would have predicted this: Brewers relief pitcher Brandon Woodruff hit a home run off Kershaw in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series after coming in to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third inning.
Yes, you read that right — a National League reliever took one of the best pitchers in the game out of the yard in the playoffs.
What makes this such a bold move for Counsell is that he lifted starter Gio Gonzalez after two innings with the pitchers’ spot in the lineup coming up to start the next inning. Gonzalez had only allowed one hit and one run — both on a Manny Machado homer — so it seemed like the Brewers could have kept him in another inning and then lifted him for a pinch hitter.
Turns out the relief pitcher did the job better than any pinch hitter.
It also turns out that Woodruff is only the third relief pitcher to ever homer in the postseason, and the first that was lefty-on-lefty.
Relief pitchers to hit HR in postseason:
2018 Brandon Woodruff NLCS Game 1
2016 Travis Wood NLDS Game 2
1924 Rosy Ryan WS Game 3
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) October 13, 2018
This was actually Woodruff’s second career homer. He hit one in long relief against the Pittsburgh Pirates in July. But it was definitely his first that came against Clayton Kershaw.
That was just the start of the problems for Kershaw, as the Brewers scored another run in the third largely because of errors by catcher Yasmani Grandal. In the fourth inning, Kershaw was pulled after a leadoff walk and a single by Orlando Arcia that turned into a double after a Chris Taylor error in left field.
The Brewers sent pinch hitter Domingo Santana to the plate and he delivered a two-run single that ended Kershaw’s night and gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead. Santana would come around to score, a fifth run charged to Kershaw on the night.
At just nine outs, this will go down in the books as Kershaw’s shortest postseason start.
The Dodgers fought back late in the game, but still lost 6-5 to Milwaukee and fell behind 0-1 in the series.
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