Uh 0-2: Brewers hoping to defy history
Phillies shoot for sweep as postseason returns to Milwaukee
MILWAUKEE -- The Philadelphia Phillies have a chance to move on to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 1993 with a victory Saturday night over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3 of their NL Division Series.
But the Brewers hope the change of scenery to Miller Park from Philadelphia is going to be the elixir they need to stave off elimination in the best-of-five series. It's the first postseason game in Milwaukee since Game 5 of the 1982 World Series."It's going to be a great atmosphere in here," said Brewers infielder Craig Counsell during workouts with the roof half-closed on Friday, allowing sunlight to drift in on a picture perfect early autumn day. "The fans have been waiting for a long time for this. We had a little pep rally on Monday before we left for Philly. It was like a college football team. It's going to be a great experience for everybody." At this point, history certainly isn't with them. Since the NLDS was inaugurated in 1995, 16 teams have jumped off to a 2-0 lead and all 16 of them have won the series, 13 of them ending in sweeps. The three teams that did survive Game 3 (the Rockies in 1995, the Dodgers in 2004 and the Padres in 2006) lost in four games. Thus, no NL team has ever forced a Game 5 after going down 2-0. If the Brewers do win on Saturday, Game 4 would be here on Sunday at 1:07 p.m. ET. The Brewers, who now face three possible elimination games, are planning to start right-hander Dave Bush against veteran Phils left-hander Jamie Moyer for Saturday night's 6:30 p.m. ET start. Bush, who hasn't made a start since Sept. 23 and hasn't won one since Aug. 29, said the 0-2 deficit can't change his mind-set. "I just know we're in a 2-0 hole in the series and we have to win tomorrow, there's no two ways about it," he said. "It's a must-win in every sense of the word. We'll come out and do whatever it takes to win." The nearly 46-year-old Moyer has made only five previous postseason starts and has never been to the World Series in his 22 big league seasons. He's 1-3 with a 2.43 postseason ERA. "I haven't been there, so I don't know what that excitement is, I don't know what that feeling is," Moyer said about playing in the World Series. "If we don't win tomorrow, or win this series, I'll never know."
NLDS 2-0 leads
|Sixteen teams have taken a 2-0 series lead in NLDS history. In 13 of those 16, the team ahead 2-0 finished off the series in a three-game sweep.|
The Brewers have had seven hits in the first two games, three of them doubles and the rest singles. Plus, their big cleanup hitter, Prince Fielder, is 0-for-7 with three strikeouts and an intentional walk. The Phillies haven't exactly been plowing the ball, either, amassing five earned runs on 13 hits.On Thursday night in a 5-2 win at Citizens Bank Park, the middle of their lineup -- Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell -- were a combined 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts and three walks. Unlike the Brewers, though, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth picked them up. Victorino had a grand slam and two doubles and Werth had a pair of doubles. "Guys step up, and that's what the game is all about," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said on Friday. "You try to keep things on an even keel and you've got to have confidence. Just because somebody makes outs, it doesn't bother me a whole lot. But if you panic, you can dig a bigger hole for yourself. It's an everyday game, and you go out there and perform every day. That's what makes Howard a great hitter and that's what makes Utley a great player. "Just because you didn't get any hits yesterday doesn't mean you're not going to get any tomorrow." As far as comebacks from an 0-2 deficit go, the Brewers have precedent behind them. In 1982, when they lost to the Cardinals in a seven-game World Series, the Brewers came back from an 0-2 deficit in the then best-of-five American League Championship Series by defeating the Angels in the last three games. The format was different back then, with one team hosting the first two games and the other hosting the final three. Under the format now, if the Brewers should take the next two games at home Saturday and Sunday, they'd have to play Game 5 back in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Saturday will mark the second time in a week that the Brewers have faced a possible elimination game at home. They defeated the Cubs this past Sunday at the same time the Mets lost to the Marlins at Shea Stadium, thus winning the NL's Wild Card race by one game.The victory ended a brutish September in which the Brewers had to win six of their last seven games just to finish 10-16, begging the question of how much they may have left. "There's no doubt we had a very tough month and went through a lot of adversity and these guys battled right up to the wire and got here," Brewers manager Dale Sveum said. "And that shows a lot. But to say we are running out of gas, first of all, this thing ain't over yet. We get to go home now. So to say anybody ran out of gas is far from the truth. "These guys had their back up against the wall seven days ago and they came through in flying colors. So I've been there and I've seen it happen before. And it's just one game at a time now. It's one game at a time. We win Saturday, it's a different ballgame." Actually, the Phillies have never won an NLDS, losing their only previous shot at it in three games to the Rockies last year. In 1993, the last time they ascended to the World Series (and lost to the Blue Jays in six games), the Division Series didn't exist. They won the NL East and defeated the NL West-winning Braves in a best-of-seven NLCS. The Phils have been to the NLCS six times since it was instituted in 1969, winning three times: 1980, 1983 and 1993. They defeated the Royals in 1980 to win the only World Series in the 126-year history of the franchise. But that's all looking ahead. Way ahead. "You don't look to the next round," Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said. "This series isn't over yet and you have to go out and win at least one more game. But certainly we would like to go out there and finish it up on Saturday."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.