Milwaukee – Corbin Burns stood alone on the mound, a triangle of trouble already threatening the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning of a playoff game on Friday.
Atlanta’s lead-off hitter George Soler converted the 1-2 count into a walk. Freddie Freeman had nine pitches to walk and, thanks to a passed ball, kept him and Soler on the corners. Now Atlanta’s No. 3 hitter, Ozzy Albiz, headed to the plate after a 30-homer regular season.
Burns’ cutter had deceived him through the first two at-bats of this National League division series. He went back anyway. The Albies leaned forward and landed harmlessly on the ground. Solar moved too slowly towards the house to defeat a throw from Rowdy Tellez, who had already made the move. After four pitches (and just one cutter), nothing was off Atlanta’s promising start and the Burns were bound for the Brewers’ dugout. He would take a no-hitter into fifth and exit after sixth, after hitting a six and conceding two hits and no runs.
Tellez did the rest when Avicel Garcia was already on base in seventh, thumping Charlie Morton’s 95 mph fastball at about 411 feet and giving Milwaukee only a 2-1 run.
“I don’t think ‘we have to do this’ is the language we’re using,” Burns said on Thursday afternoon. “That’s when you start putting that extra pressure, that’s when you start trying to do too much. The best we do as a team is you start getting away with it. The best we do as a team is we play loose, we have fun, we have a lot of energy. “
In turn, he has made pitching a high art this year in Milwaukee. If they wanted to contest, they hardly had any choice. The Milwaukee lineup, even with former Most Valuable Player Award-winner Christian Yelich, managed a regular-season average that was only good for second-to-last in the NL. Regular-season home run.
But the Milwaukee pitcher tormented rivals, throwing 19 shutouts, the most in the Majors, and recording 1,618 strikes, also the best in baseball. Bud Selig, former baseball commissioner and lifelong owner of the Brewers, argued Thursday that Milwaukee will go “as far as pitching takes”.
Morton, with a record of a nerdy curveball and post-season reputation, was hardly doing poorly. Tellez’s home run was one of three hits he allowed on Friday, when he scored nine runs in six innings. Atlanta’s mighty offense – the club was one of the most power-prone in the league this season – simply sputtered in front of a partisan crowd and a series of pitchers who made only fleeting mistakes.
Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday evening in Milwaukee; The Best of Five series will move to Atlanta for two games starting Monday, before potentially returning for the final Game 5 showdown in Milwaukee on Thursday.