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|5:09 PM PT6:09 PM MT7:09 PM CT8:09 PM ET20:09 ET0:09 GMT8:09 5:09 PM MST7:09 PM EST7:39 PM VEN4:09 UAE (+1)7:09 PM CT, October 12, 2018
Miller Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin Attendance: 43,615
Kershaw, Gonzalez open NLCS for Dodgers, Brewers
Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers
- The Los Angeles Dodgers will be playing in the NLCS for the third consecutive season. The team last played in back-to-back NLCS in 2008-09, but has never made the NLCS in three consecutive seasons. The Cubs were the last to do this, having reached the NLCS each year from 2015-17, and the Cardinals are the only team in MLB since 2000 to do so in more consecutive seasons (four straight from 2011-14).
- Last time the Brewers played in the NLCS (2011 vs. StL -- Brewers lost the series 4-2), Ryan Braun slashed .333/.385/.583 in the series with four extra-base hits and six RBI. His career slugging percentage in postseason play is .592 - that is the best career mark by any active National Leaguer (min. 75 PA).
- The Brewers held the Rockies to just two runs in the three-game NLDS sweep, posting a 0.64 team ERA, the best mark in MLB this postseason. The only other pitching staff beside Milwaukee to post multiple shutouts thus far in the postseason -- the Dodgers. No other team has even one shutout.
- Manny Machado had a double, a home run and four RBI in the Dodgers series-clinching victory over the Braves. He is the third Dodger all-time to do this in a postseason game -- Eric Karros did it in 1995, and Duke Snider did it twice, in 1952 and 1953 (both World Series games). Brock Holt is the only other player who has done so this postseason.
- In 13 postseason games on the road (10 starts), Clayton Kershaw has held opponents to a .207 batting average. That BAA on the road in postseason games is the third-lowest mark all-time, behind only David Cone (.201) and Justin Verlander (.207 - min. 10 starts). In the 2017 postseason, Kershaw had a 2.82 ERA at home, but a 5.91 ERA in road starts.
- In seven career starts against the Dodgers (six reg., one post), Gio Gonzalez has gone 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA and .185 BAA. The only left-hander to ever hold the Dodgers to a lower batting average in his career was Cliff Lee (.170 - min. seven starts). In his last five starts (all regular season), Gio Gonzalez has allowed just 14 hits -- opponents are hitting .157 in those games. He has only allowed fewer hits in a five-start stretch one time in his career (13 in 2012).
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MILWAUKEE -- The last thing Gio Gonzalez expected six weeks ago was to be the Game 1 starter in the National League Championship Series.
The veteran left-hander had slogged through a frustrating season with the Nationals and was 7-11 with a 4.57 ERA when the Brewers acquired him from Washington just before the deadline to trade for players and have them eligible for postseason play.
At the time, Gonzalez was hoping a change of scenery would do him well and was ready to accept whatever role the Brewers had in mind for him as they chased their first postseason berth in seven years. Instead of being a bit piece, though, Gonzalez played a vital role for Milwaukee, posting a 2.13 ERA in five starts, including five-shutout innings in the regular-season finale that sent the Brewers to a Game 163 showdown with the Cubs for the NL Central title.
"It's a pretty cool story," Gonzalez admitted Thursday as the Brewers and Dodgers worked out at Miller Park ahead of the series opener. "They wanted me to be a part of this."
Gonzalez likely won't be out there long. The Brewers have kept their starters' outings short all season, choosing to rely on one of the game's best bullpens and it's been no different in the postseason as no Milwaukee starter has worked more than five innings, including a three-inning stint by Brandon Woodruff as part of a "bullpen day" in Game 1 of the NLDS against Colorado.
Gonzalez was on the roster for that series but didn't see action. Some expected Milwaukee to turn to right-hander Jhoulys Chacin for Game 1, but he'll get the nod in Game 3 instead.
"We just like the matchup," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Gonzalez. "We like the matchup against their lineup. It's no secret that we're going to use our pitching a little different than the traditionalists might like and so for us, the first matchup we liked was Gio on the mound."
After avoiding a decisive fifth game against Atlanta, the Dodgers send ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw to the mound for the opener. In 14 career starts against the Brewers, Kershaw is 6-5 with a 2.86 ERA, including a 4-1 record and 1.40 mark in seven career starts at Miller Park.
He split his two starts against Milwaukee this season, allowing four runs (one earned) over six innings in a 4-2 loss at Miller Park on July 21 then striking out seven while allowing just two runs over six innings in a 21-5 rout at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 2.
The Brewers batted .250 (12-for-48) against Kershaw this season, numbers that were inflated by Christian Yelich, who went 4-for-6 with a pair of home runs against Kershaw in 2018 and is 9-for-17 (.529) against him for his career.
"He's a really good hitter," Kershaw said. "He's definitely got some hits off me for sure, so I have to try to not let him do that (Friday)."
Yelich is one of the few "for sure" players in Craig Counsell's lineup, along with fellow outfielders Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain as well as first baseman Jesus Aguilar. Beyond that, Counsell has mixed and matched the rest of his lineup depending on matchups all season long and doesn't expect that to change during the NLCS, especially with the Dodgers' lefty-heavy rotation.
That means Hernan Perez, Orlando Arcia and Jonathan Schoop could see significantly more playing time than they did in the NLCS, with Travis Shaw and Mike Moustakas possibly seeing a little less action than they have the last few weeks.
"We'll have some different lineups in this series," Counsell said. "With three pretty solid left-handed starters, it's a good chance for our right-handed hitters to do some damage."
Updated October 12, 2018