The Milwaukee Brewers are a team on a mission.
Next destination? The National League Championship Series.
The Brewers punched their ticket Sunday after completing a sweep of the Colorado Rockies with a 6-0 win in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
Despite the series shifting to hitter-friendly Coors Field, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell was able to use the same formula that brought his team success at Miller Park in Games 1 and 2. The key was getting a gritty performance from starting pitcher Wade Miley. Though the veteran left-hander didn’t qualify for a win, he did make it through the Rockies order twice without any damage being done.
That’s all Counsell needed. He was able to deploy his lockdown bullpen as he desired in the late innings. Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria, Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader combined to record the final 13 outs while allowing just three baserunners.
Milwaukee’s offense played a part in that too. Jesús Aguilar, Orlando Arcia and Keon Broxton all homered, while veteran catcher Erik Kratz contributed three hits. The six runs produced probably felt like 60 to Milwaukee’s pitchers.
Though the Brewers still have big goals to accomplish, it feels like everything is coming together just right for general manager David Stearns. He went all-in on the 2018 season, acquiring Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain in the offseason, before adding veterans like Mike Moustakas, Jonathan Schoop and Joakim Soria during the season. They’ve all contributed to the Brewers postseason surge.
The Brewers closed the regular season strong, winning eight straight games. That included a Game 163 win against the Chicago Cubs to win the NL Central. At this point, they might just be the team to beat in the NL.
With Milwaukee threatening to add on in the sixth inning, Rockies manager Bud Black turned to wild-card hero Scott Oberg to put out the fire. Unfortunately for the Rockies, Oberg instead poured a couple gallons of gasoline on it thanks to a pair of costly mistakes.
The first came on a balk, which, as you’ll see in the video, was blooper reel material.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) October 7, 2018
If there was a moment when the air went out of Coors Field, that was it. Not only did a run score, but another runner advanced to third. That runner scored on Oberg’s wild pitch later in the same Curtis Granderson at-bat.
What made the difference in NLDS Game 3?
Third verse, same as the first two for the Rockies. Only with less drama this time.
In the first two games, the Rockies failed to convert on numerous scoring opportunities. In Game 3, it was a struggle to even create one. Colorado got two runners on in the second inning, but Ian Desmond and Tony Wolters couldn’t get them home. The Rockies next chance didn’t come until the ninth inning. By then, it was far too late, and it’s not like they converted anyway.
Amazingly, the Rockies only scored in one of the 28 innings played in this series. That was their two-run, ninth-inning in Game 1. Colorado finished the series 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position and 8-for-50 with 22 strikeouts against Milwaukee’s bullpen.
What’s next for the Brewers and Rockies
For the Brewers, it’s on to the NLCS where they’ll play the winner of the on-going Los Angeles Dodgers–Atlanta Braves NLDS. An opponent could be determined Sunday night as the Dodgers go for their own sweep in Atlanta.
For the Rockies, it’s back to the drawing board. While 2018 has to be considered an overall success, it’s also a disappointment given the outcome. The Rockies fell one excruciating win short of clinching their first ever NL West championship. In the postseason, they got over the wild-card hump after falling in that round last season, but they didn’t get much beyond after losing the NLDS.
They have important questions to answers, including whether they want to pursue an extension with Nolan Arenado. Their window to contend seems dangerously short.
More from Yahoo Sports:
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• Which postseason team needs to win the World Series most?
• Yahoo Sports 2018 All-MLB Team: Mookie Betts, Mike Trout lead way