The Milwaukee Brewers jumped out to a 3-0 lead and dominated the National League wildcard game until the eighth inning. Manager Craig Counsell had his pitchers lined up just the way he wanted with Josh Hader coming on for a six-out save.
But a little wildness, a controversial hit batsman, a broken bat single and a outfield fielding error turned around a 3-1 deficit and gave the Washington Nationals a 4-3 win and the right to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in a National League Division Series.
After a leadoff walk in the first to Trent Grisham, Yasmani Grandal lined a home run to right to put the Brewers up 2-0. Eric Thames increased the lead to 3-0 in the second inning with a long solo home run.
Meanwhile, Brandon Woodruff was cruising on the mound, tossing four innings of one-run, two-hit ball. His only blemish was a solo home run off the bat of Trea Turner in the third. Woodruff was followed by Brent Suter and Drew Pomeranz before Hader took over in the eighth.
The Brewers did all of their damage off of Max Scherzer in the first two innings. Stephen Strasburg came on to pitch three innings of scoreless relief and get credited with the win. Daniel Hudson pitched the ninth for the save.
The Brewers were a long shot to get to this game, before winning 18 of 20 to clinch a spot in the field. They stumbled on the final weekend at Colorado, eliminating their chances at the Central Division crown. So they instead had to settle for a one-and-done scenario in Washington D.C.
The game winning blow came with the bases loaded in the eighth. Juan Soto, who had struck out twice up to that point, came to bat with two outs and the bases loaded. He lined a Josh Hader fastball to right for a base hit. That hit was going to score two runs. But Brewers rookie right fielder Trent Grisham came charging hard to try to get a shot at the second runner at the plate. Instead, the ball took a bad hop and Grisham wasn’t able to adjust in time to prevent the ball from getting past him. That error allowed a third run to score and the Nationals pulled out the win.
It’s the second time in a week that Hader has failed to hold a lead. On Saturday, he served up a game tying home run in a game the Brewers eventually lost. Tuesday night, he couldn’t hold on either.
The Brewers were dealt a big blow when their MVP Christian Yelich went down with a broken knee cap during the second week of November. But somehow, they put together a great September run to get into the playoffs.
They were six outs away from moving on to the Divisional Playoffs, but it wasn’t meant to be.
In the end, the Brewers couldn’t secure their 90th victory. Doing so last weekend could have meant playing for a division title. Doing so last night would have meant advancing. Instead, the Brewers plane won’t head all the way to Los Angeles, it’ll stop in Milwaukee for a rest, until the 2020 season gets ready to roll.