EditorsNote: update 2: adds quotes
Christian Yelich worked a walk, took second on a wild pitch, third on an infield out and scored on Mike Moustakas’ two-out, two-strike, walk-off single in the 10th inning Thursday night, lifting the host Milwaukee Brewers to a 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies in the opener of the National League Division Series.
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is scheduled for Friday afternoon, with Colorado slated to start Tyler Anderson against Milwaukee’s Jhoulys Chacin.
After the Rockies rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a two-run ninth to force extra innings, Yelich, who earlier had homered and singled, sparked the winning rally. He battled back from an 0-2 count against Rockies right-hander Adam Ottavino (0-1) to draw an inning-opening walk in the 10th.
Yelich got to third with two outs before Moustakas, who barely stayed alive on an 0-2 foul tip that rattled around the glove of Rockies catcher Tony Wolters, lined his game-winner to right field.
“I got a new life (on the foul tip),” Moustakas said on FS1. “Tried to put the ball in play. Got a good pitch and did that.”
Ottavino said, “He was late on my fastball. Everybody knows I throw a lot of sliders. I wanted to elevate a little higher than I (did).”
Yelich said on FS1 of his leadoff walk, “You’re just trying to get on any way you can. (Ottavino) is a tough out. Just trying to find a way. Just will yourself to get on base. Fortunately, the boys were able to take care of business afterward.
“I feel we were fortunate that it was still a tie (after the top of the ninth). We could have very easily been down there. We regrouped. You (have) got to move on and find a way to push one across, and Mous came through. That was awesome.”
Joakim Soria, who worked a scoreless top of the 10th, got the win.
Moustakas’ heroics came after the Rockies rebounded from a 2-0 deficit, the product of Yelich’s two-run, third-inning home run. Colorado tied the score in the top of the ninth in an inning that featured a call reversal on an apparent ground-rule double by Charlie Blackmon.
Blackmon came to bat after pinch hitters Gerardo Parra and Matt Holliday opened the inning with consecutive singles against Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress.
The Rockies’ leadoff man then one-hopped a ball over the fence down the right field line, a hit that was deemed by right field umpire John Tumpane to have struck the foul line. However, replay showed that while the crevice left by the ball touched the line, the ball hadn’t, and it was ruled foul.
Blackmon followed with an RBI single to make it 2-1, and an error by shortstop Orlando Arcia loaded the bases.
Nolan Arenado’s sacrifice fly tied the game before Jeffress averted further damage by getting David Dahl to ground out and then striking out Trevor Story.
For eight innings, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Corey Knebel and Josh Hader combined to shut out the Rockies on one hit.
Woodruff, who had made just four starts during the regular season, got the Brewers off to a fast start, facing the minimum nine batters in his three innings. He walked DJ LeMahieu with one out in the first, but LeMahieu was caught stealing.
Woodruff struck out three, then left for a pinch hitter in the last of the third, the inning in which Yelich hit his blast to center field. Lorenzo Cain, who had walked with one out, also scored on the hit to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead.
Yelich tied for third in the NL in the regular season with 36 homers.
Burnes was nearly as good in relief of Woodruff in the fourth and fifth innings, allowing Colorado’s first hit — a two-out triple by Carlos Gonzalez in the fifth — before stranding the runner by getting Ian Desmond on a comebacker.
The right-hander struck out three of the seven batters he faced.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, “Before the game, if you would have told me I was going to get five innings from (Woodruff and Burnes), I would have said, ‘We’re in a very good spot.’ And they did it.”
Knebel and Hader then got the shutout to the ninth, but Jeffress, unscored upon in the month of September, couldn’t hold on.
Colorado starter Anthony Senzatela rebounded from Yelich’s homer to pitch an effective five innings, allowing just the two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out one.
Yelich finished with two hits, two RBIs and two runs for the Brewers, who finished the regular season with eight consecutive wins, including a victory over the Chicago Cubs in an NL Central tiebreaker Monday.
Ryan Braun also had two hits for Milwaukee.
The Rockies, who were making their first Division Series appearance since 2009, were limited to four hits.
“It’s going to take everybody,” Colorado catcher Chris Iannetta said of the team recovering. “It’s going to take the whole roster to win in the playoffs. It’s just one game. We gotta come back tomorrow.”
—Field Level Media