MILWAUKEE, WI: Prince Fielder #28 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates with teammates in the dugout at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Power Bats Lead Brewers To 9-6 Game 1 Victory

Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt all went deep as the Brewers dropped the Cardinals to take a 1-0 lead in the NLCS.

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Brewers vs. Cardinals: Tensions High In Game 1 At Miller Park

There was no love lost between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night as the two division rivals took the field for Game 1 of the NLCS. Ahead of the series, the league warned both teams to keep their cools, reminding them that big brother was watching for any fishy behavior after a bit of pre-series trash talk.

The war of words began with a shot across the Cardinals' bow by Zach Greinke.

"There's other pitchers in the league that do it, but, I don't know," Greinke said about Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenters habit of staring down and yelling at batters, "a lot of guys on our team don't like Carpenter."

Tony Larussa was booed by the crowd at Miller Park and the atmosphere was electric as the Brewers and Cardinals opened the NLCS. Greinke said he heard it from the Cardinals dugout, as well, but added the barbs didn't fall outside the normal ribbing that goes on during a game.

"They're yelling from the dugout some, but most teams do that," Greinke said. "Everyone always makes fun of me grunting when I throw a fastball. It's kind of funny sometimes, but no big deal."

In the first, though, it did appear tensions were about to boil over after Ryan Braun went deep to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead. On the next pitch, Jamie Garcia dotted Prince Fielder, and both benches were given a warning. Did it have anything to do with the war of words ahead of the game, though? It's highly unlikely, especially when taking into account that Garcia walked the next batter, Rickie Weeks, on four pitches.

Truth be told, this is exactly what the typical fan wants from a League Championship Series. High tensions, high drama and high stakes combine to create an enthralling product, as we all saw on Sunday. The Brewers got the last laugh, though, exploding for six runs in the fifth en route to a 9-6 win.

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Brewers vs. Cardinals, NLCS Game 1: Highlights And Quotes From The Live-Blog

Game 1 of the NLCS is in the books and the Milwaukee Brewers hold a 1-0 advantage in the series. Thanks to a huge inning, Milwaukee was able to reel in and put away the St. Louis Cardinals in one quick motion. The end result was a 9-6 win, with six of the Brewers' runs coming in one inning.

Here are a few of the highlights from the Baseball Nation live-blog.

The Cardinals needed to score early to seize moment. Or they didn't. It's a mystery! Either way, St. Louis got on the board in the first, and Jeff Sullivan wondered whether a hockey cliche would carry over to baseball.

In a significant hockey game, coaches and broadcasters talk about the importance of the visiting team scoring a quick goal so it can get the crowd out of it. I don't know if that carries over to baseball, and I suspect it does not carry over to baseball, but the St. Louis Cardinals are going to find out if that carries over to baseball.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Cardinals learned a valuable lesson.

So with one out in the bottom of the first inning, Jaime García walked Jerry Hairston, and I was just about to start writing something brilliant about how you can't walk anybody ahead of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder because those are the only guys who can beat you in this lineup, so if they're going to hit home runs at least make sure their solo home runs.

No sooner had that puny thought entered my consciousness than Garcia threw his first pitch to Braun, who hit it halfway to Lake Michigan to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead.

Garcia did seem to learn, settling down and pitching a scoreless second and third inning. And in the fourth, he got some help in the form of David Freese, who stepped to the plate with two on and one out.

And Greinke got out of the jam by throwing David Freese a first-pitch curveball in the center of the plate. Greinke didn't get out of the jam because Freese grounded the curve right at somebody; Greinke got out of the jam because Freese hit the curve over the right-center fence.

In the fifth, the Cardinals added a fifth run and looked poised to keep tacking insurance on until Prince Fielder did this:

Fielderdive

Nothing to it.

It all went down the drain in the fifth, though, as Jeff Sullivan explained in graphic detail.

Whoops! Forget all that, because in the bottom of the fifth, the Brewers tackled the Cardinals, sliced open their abdomens, and feasted on their disgusting raw innards. The Brewers have made a mess of everything, but they're satiated. For now.

The Brewers chipped away and the Cardinals' lead was suddenly one run, 5-4. And because Prince Fielder gifs are fun, here's what happened next.

Garciafielder

All of a sudden, the Brewers had a 6-5 lead, and they still weren't done. Two more runs in the inning gave Milwaukee an 8-5 lead and the Cardinals were on the ropes. And that Prince Fielder home run? It was smoked.

In the seventh, Albert Pujols came to the plate with no outs and runners on first and third. There was good and bad news for the Cardinals.

 

A run did come in, but it was on an around-the-horn double play that squashed the rally. It brought the Cards closer, cutting the Brewers' lead to 8-6, but with outs at a premium, St. Louis is probably just a bit disappointed with the outcome of the inning.

Milwaukee tacked on one more run for good measure and shut the door for a 9-6 Game 1 win, all thanks to that one massive inning. The Brewers and Cards get back at it on Monday at 8:05 p.m. at Miller Park, with Milwaukee looking to keep the ball rolling into the off day.

For more on this game, check out the rest of the live-blog and Jeff Sullivan's recap.

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Brewers Score Plenty, Sink Cardinals To Take 1-0 NLCS Lead

The Brewers got home runs from Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt as they outscored the Cardinals 9-6 in Game 1 of the NLCS.

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Brewers vs. Cardinals: Lucroy's Single Makes It 9-6 Milwaukee After 7

Sure, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder are pretty good country ballplayers.

They're good in the city, also.

Today in Milwaukee they're not the only ones.

With the Cardinals closing the gap from three runs to two in the top of the seventh, the Brewers were looking for some insurance in the bottom of the inning. Oddly, the phone lines were jammed at Geico and Progressive, so Ron Roenicke turned to a couple of unlikely heroes: Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathan Lucroy.

And Betancourt, who'd already drilled a two-run homer, greeted St. Louis reliever Kyle McClelland with a double into the left-field corner. After Carlos Gomez's sacrifice hit that almost became a single hit, Lucroy drove a single into right field to score Betancourt and make the score Brewers 9, Cardinals 6.

With Nyjer Morgan pinch-hitting, La Russa replaced McClellan with Mike Rzepczynski, who struck out Morgan and finished the inning by getting Corey Hart on a grounder to third.

Everything's in place for a Milwaukee win, with Francisco Rodriguez entering to pitch the eighth...

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Brewers vs. Cardinals: Pyrrhic Grounder From Pujols Gets Cards One Run Closer, 8-6

If the Brewers have taught us anything, it's that charisma cannot be transferred between different players, like a McDonald's gift certificate or syphilis. They tried that with an under-the-radar procedure involving Nyjer Morgan and Zack Greinke, and it just made things worse on both sides.

If they've taught us anything else, it's that a team with a good offense can come back in a real hurry. The Brewers were down in this game 5-2 until they exploded for six runs in the bottom of the fifth, hitting all sorts of home runs, both expected (Prince Fielder) and not (Yuniesky Betancourt).

So the Cardinals were right to be a little excited in the top of the seventh inning. Rafael Furcal opened the inning with a solid single, and Jon Jay moved him to third with a single on a beautifully executed hit-and-run. That brought up Albert Pujols with two on and no outs. A pujolsian swing of the bat could tie the game.

A run did come in, but it was on an around-the-horn double play that squashed the rally. It brought the Cards closer, cutting the Brewers' lead to 8-6, but with outs at a premium, St. Louis is probably just a bit disappointed with the outcome of the inning. 

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Good Inning For Cardinals, Who Keep Brewers Off Board

She hid her emotions well, putting her mink stole on the credenza, and leaving the ruby brooch on the lancelynn. But when she saw his portrait staring back at her, she crumbled into a sobbing heap.

Oddly, that's a real sentence from a real 1940s novel that I really didn't write.

Fast-forward nearly 70 years, and a hirsute right-handed pitcher named Lance Lynn toils for the St. Louis Cardinals.

It's a good thing, too, because if somebody didn't step in and stop the Milwaukee Madness in its tracks ... Well, let's just say that people in St. Louis might switch to football and Baseball Nation writers might switch to making up (more) fake lines from fake novels incorporating real baseball players' names as inanimate objects.

It's a good thing that lancelynn, after getting into a bit of a mitchstetter, was able to record two outs on Rickie Weeks' inning-ending maikelcleto.

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Prince Fielder Is Really Strong You Guys

I'm just gonna go ahead and give you guys a little science:

Prince Fielder's HR traveled at a speed of 119.2 MPH off his bat. That is the highest speed for any HR hit in the year 2011.
Oct 09 via webFavoriteRetweetReply

It's important to note that this is a preliminary measurement. Oftentimes a TV broadcast will report a certain home run distance, and then later on that home run distance will be re-evaluated and, often, reduced. We don't know for sure whether Fielder's home run took off at 119.2 miles per hour.

But let's just say that it did. In that case, yeah, hardest-hit home run of the year. You can find all that data over at the Home Run Tracker. The fastest home run off the bat during the regular season was 118.4 miles per hour, by noted thumper Sean Rodriguez. Fielder might have beat that by almost a full tick.

Appropriate that Fielder hit that home run off an 87-m.p.h. "fastball" down the heart of the plate. If any pitch deserves to get turned around super fast, it's that one.

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Brewers vs. Cardinals: Milwaukee Scores A Bunch, Knocks Garcia Out

In the top of the fifth inning, Zack Greinke allowed a pretty discouraging two-out RBI single that extended the Cardinals' lead over the Brewers to 5-2. At that point, the Miller Park crowd wasn't silent, but it wasn't the Miller Park crowd to which we've grown accustomed over the past several weeks. The Cardinals looked to be in control, and Jaime García was in a pretty good groove.

Whoops! Forget all that, because in the bottom of the fifth, the Brewers tackled the Cardinals, sliced open their abdomens, and feasted on their disgusting raw innards. The Brewers have made a mess of everything, but they're satiated. For now.

Garcia began the inning by allowing a ground-ball single to Corey Hart. Fine. It's just a ground-ball single. Whatever. But things only got worse. Jerry Hairston Jr. followed by ripping a changeup down the left-field line for a double. With none out and two runners in scoring position, Ryan Braun came to the plate, and Braun hit the first pitch down the line the other way for an automatic double. Just like that, it was 5-4, and Miller Park was alive.

Whether or not the situation got in Garcia's head, we can't be sure, but his very next pitch was a fastball down the heart of the plate to Prince Fielder.

Garciafielder

The ball whistled out of the yard on a line, and it was 6-5 Brewers. Tony La Russa came out of the dugout and replaced Garcia with Octavio Dotel, with Garcia's outing having come apart in an instant.

The Brewers weren't done, though. Of course the Brewers weren't done. Dotel got Rickie Weeks to tap back to the mound, but Dotel's throw to first was wild, and Weeks advanced safely to second base. The next batter was Yuniesky Betancourt, and Yuniesky God Damned Betancourt lifted a hanging curve over the left-center fence. Just like David Freese's home run earlier, Betancourt's fly looked like a routine out, but it just kept on going and going and going and BAM! 8-5 Brewers.

Dotel kept the Brewers there and eventually finished the inning, but this thing sure turned in a hurry. Greinke will return to the mound for the top of the sixth, as the Cardinals look to play catch-up.

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Brewers vs. Cardinals: Lance Berkman Singles Home Another Run, St. Louis Up 5-2

Well, this isn't going quite as the Brewers planned. With the future of their powerful offensive core in doubt after this season, Milwaukee traded all sorts of baubles and trinkets to get Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum for this year. And in the regular season, it worked beautifully. So far in the postseason, they might have rather had Lorenzo Cain pitch a few innings.

Rafael Furcal led off the top of the fifth with a double -- a line shot to right-center on a 2-0 fastball. Greinke was in trouble again, but a great play from Prince Fielder kept Furcal from scoring

Fielderdive


Purty. The line drive did move Furcal to third with one out, bringing up Albert Pujols, but Greinke struck Pujols out with a curveball in the dirt.

With two outs, though, Lance Berkman singled home Furcal for the Cardinals' fifth run of the game. As far as discouraging runs go, this was close to the discouragingest.

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Brewers vs. Cardinals: David Freese's Magical Home Run Puts Cards In Front

Zack Greinke allowed a run in the top of the first, but he wasn't bad; both of the Cardinals' hits came on pretty soft contact. Then in both the second and the third, Greinke set down the Cardinals in order. Greinke looked to be well on his way to an outstanding performance in an important game.

You can go ahead and forget all about that now. I guess Greinke might still have a good game - we'll see how things go - but the top of the fourth dealt Greinke's statistics a serious blow.

Lance Berkman led off with a weak ground ball single against the shift. No big deal. Then Matt Holliday struck out. Perfect. Greinke was still in command.

Then Yadier Molina walked on four pitches. Four close pitches, but still four pitches. That gave the Cardinals a run-scoring opportunity - or, if you prefer, it put Greinke in a jam.

And Greinke got out of the jam by throwing David Freese a first-pitch curveball in the center of the plate. Greinke didn't get out of the jam because Freese grounded the curve right at somebody; Greinke got out of the jam because Freese hit the curve over the right-center fence.

It didn't look like Freese hit a home run off the bat. If anything, it looked like a soft fly off the bat, and maybe even a bloop single. But the ball got caught in some kind of jet stream that I didn't know existed, and it just kept on going and going. Maybe this is why Greinke has had so much home run trouble all season. Maybe he's just allowed a bunch of weak fly balls that got caught in an inexplicable jet stream.

In any case, a 2-1 Brewers lead turned into a 4-2 Cardinals lead with one swing of the bat, and that's where we are in the bottom of the fourth. Greinke's pitch count is up to 70, so we're going to see both of these bullpens before too long.

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Jaime García Has Officially Righted The Ship And Is Back On Track

In the first two innings, Cardinals starter Jaime García walked a bunch of guys, hit a guy, and gave up a home run to a guy that traveled so far that in some countries it would have counted for an extra run.

He also threw 46 pitches to guys, leaving his long-term viability in question.

In the third, though, Garcia retired Ryan Braun -- the guy who'd hit that home run -- on a grounder to third when David Freese made a nifty bare-handed pickup (and perfect throw). He got Prince Fielder a grounder, too.

Granted, Rickie Weeks did drive a double into the left-field corner, but then Garcia was greeted by "The Pitcher's Best Friend": Yuniesky Betancourt, who sent another grounder to Freese, who had time to use his glove and not be such a fershlugginer show-off.

Garcia did throw 17 pitches so he's not exactly ticketed for the eighth inning or even the seventh. But he does seem to have become a "normal" pitcher who won't let Milwaukee's "guys" score 11 runs or whatever.

Oh, and it's still Brewers 2, Cardinals 1 after three full innings.

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On Yuniesky Betancourt ...

In the bottom of the first inning, Jaime Garcia was making the Cardinals and their fans uncomfortable. After walking Jerry Hairston and allowing a 5,938-foot homer to Ryan Braun, Garcia hit Prince Fielder with a pitch, and walked Rickie Weeks. He started Yuniesky Betancourt with a ball -- his sixth straight of the inning. That could only mean one thing: the strikes were going to come fast and furiously! Fastballs right down the middle were imminent!

Yuni_medium


And that is the at-bat of a player with no plan. After six straight balls, Yuni chased pitch after pitch on the fringes of the strike zone. Carlos Gomez had a similar at-bat to end the inning, but at that point it seemed like Garcia was actually putting the baseballs where he wanted to throw them.

After Weeks walked, pitching coach Dave Duncan went out to talk to Garcia. His message was either, "Pitch better, you weenie" or "Say don't worry about throwing a strike here. Just keep doing what you're doing." Either way: genius!

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Brewers vs. Cardinals: Ryan Braun's Homer Gives Crew 2-1 Lead

So with one out in the bottom of the first inning, Jaime García walked Jerry Hairston, and I was just about to start writing something brilliant about how you can't walk anybody ahead of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder because those are the only guys who can beat you in this lineup, so if they're going to hit home runs at least make sure their solo home runs.

No sooner had that puny thought entered my consciousness than Garcia threw his first pitch to Braun, who hit it halfway to Lake Michigan to give the Brewers a 2-1 lead.

Cardsof_medium

Hey, anybody can walk a guy, then throw a meatball.

But Garcia soon looked like he was about to implode.

His first pitch to Prince Fielder was a fastball that nailed Fielder and elicited a warning to both benches from plate-umpire Gary Darling. Then he walked Rickie Weeks, who literally hasn't done anything since July, on four pitches.

That got the Cardinals' bullpen up and going, and it got Tony La Russa worrying a lot more in the first inning than he prefers.

Fortunately, after a visit from pitching coach Dave Duncan, Garcia struck out both Yuniesky Betancourt and Carlos Gómez to limit the damage.

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Brewers vs. Cardinals: Cards Score First On Matt Holliday's Single

In a significant hockey game, coaches and broadcasters talk about the importance of the visiting team scoring a quick goal so it can get the crowd out of it. I don't know if that carries over to baseball, and I suspect it does not carry over to baseball, but the St. Louis Cardinals are going to find out if that carries over to baseball.

Why? Because they scored a quick run! In the top of the first inning of the first game of the NLCS, the Cardinals have taken a 1-0 lead over the Brewers. Zack Greinke retired the first guy he faced, but then he walked Jon Jay on seven pitches. Albert Pujols followed with a flare to right-center, and while Greinke eased his burden by striking out Lance Berkman, he wasn't out of trouble. He still had to get through Matt Holliday, and he couldn't get through Matt Holliday, as Holliday squibbed a grounder through the hole between first and second base.

It wasn't the most well-struck hit that's ever been hit, but it got through, and it was slow enough to allow Jay to come all the way around from second. Yadier Molina popped out to end the inning, but thanks to a walk and two soft singles, the Cards are on top, and Jaime Garcia has a lead to protect.

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The Milwaukee Brewers' NLCS Game 1 Starting Lineup Will Shock, Amaze You

Ron Roenicke's drafted the starting lineup he'll match against the St. Louis Cardinals in Sunday's NLCS Game 1, and you're not going to believe it:

Corey Hart, RF
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
Ryan Braun, LF
Prince Fielder *, 1B
Rickie Weeks, 2B
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
Carlos Gomez, CF
Jonathan Lucroy, C
Zack Greinke, SP

Wow! Zack Greinke! When did the Brewers pull that trade off?!

So this is Roenicke's lefty lineup. By which I mean, this is the lineup Roenicke uses against a lefty. It's the same lineup he used against Joe Saunders in the NLDS, with the Lucroy/George Kottaras exception. The difference between this and his righty lineup is that Gomez is starting in place of Nyjer Morgan, and Hairston is batting higher up.

Gomez, see, is a right-handed hitter with a career .679 OPS against lefties. Morgan is a left-handed hitter with a career .558 OPS against lefties. Seriously, check this out: .201/.288/.270. That's Nyjer Morgan over 381 career plate appearances against left-handed pitchers. Two home runs. Really horrible.

Hairston bats second because he's a righty with contact and on-base ability, and because Gomez would be a really terrible #2 hitter. Gomez's .679 OPS against lefties comes with a .287 OBP. Carlos Gomez makes a lot of outs. You don't want your #2 hitter to make a lot of outs, unless they're intentional, sacrifice outs. Which #2 hitters make all the time...

Anyway, this is a good lineup, as it's always been. It might be a great lineup if Weeks can get going, but he's an unknown, given the state of his ankle. Thankfully for the Brewers, Weeks is only their third or fourth most important bat.

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NLCS Game 1: Holliday, Furcal In Cardinals' Lineup; Lankford Out

Well, technically, Ray Lankford is retired and not on the roster, but he was really cool.

If there was any mystery to be had with the St. Louis Cardinals' lineup, it was with the health and availability of their star left-fielder, Matt Holliday, who was limited to pinch-hitting duties for most of the NLDS. He's in the lineup for the first game of the NLCS against the Brewers, though, and he's joined by shortstop Rafael Furcal.

Rafael Furcal# - SS
Jon Jay* - CF
Albert Pujols - 1B
Lance Berkman# - RF
Matt Holliday - LF
Yadier Molina - C
David Freese - 3B
Ryan Theriot - 2B
Jaime Garcia* - P

After all the injuries -- including those to Freese, Pujols, Holliday, and Furcal -- it's pretty fortuitous that they could cobble together their optimal lineup right as the NLCS starts. The Cardinals had the best OPS+ and runs scored total in the league during the regular season, and that's with a few of their key contributors missing a chunk of time.

How has Zack Greinke fared against the current Cardinals? Well, I'll tell you, but only because the internet makes it easy to find out, not because it really means anything:

PA HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Nick Punto 24 0 4 5 .211 .348 .211 .558
Albert Pujols 21 0 3 2 .278 .381 .389 .770
Gerald Laird 20 0 0 3 .300 .300 .350 .650
Skip Schumaker 16 0 0 2 .333 .333 .400 .733
Matt Holliday 13 2 1 0 .417 .462 .917 1.378
Yadier Molina 12 0 0 1 .364 .333 .455 .788
Lance Berkman 9 1 0 4 .333 .333 .778 1.111
Jon Jay 9 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667
Chris Carpenter 7 0 0 5 .143 .143 .143 .286
Rafael Furcal 7 1 0 1 .286 .286 .714 1.000
Daniel Descalso 6 0 0 1 .333 .333 .500 .833
David Freese 6 0 1 1 .200 .333 .200 .533
Ryan Theriot 4 0 0 2 .000 .000 .000 .000
Total 154 4 9 27 .289 .329 .423 .751
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Cardinals vs. Brewers, NLCS Game 1 Preview: Time, TV Schedule, Pitchers And More

Central division rivals, the Brewers and the Cardinals, are set to square off in Miller Park on Sunday afternoon for Game 1 of the NLCS.

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