Rich Hill walked down to the visitors’ bullpen at Miller Park in the eighth inning Saturday just in case. The Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers were tangled in a tight affair. Extra innings were possible, and if the game ventured beyond the ninth frame, the Dodgers, who only had one reliever remaining by the end of the game, would’ve given the ball to Hill.
It would’ve been an appropriate outing for Hill, who’s spent the last couple weeks unsure of his next assignment. But the Dodgers pulled it out in nine innings so Hill’s original assignment – starting Game 4 – remained unchanged.
The fans jeered the catcher and begged for his backup. The starting pitcher stared in disbelief as a home run disappeared from sight. The hitters spiked bats in the grass and slammed equipment in the dugout. The discontent overflowed at Dodger Stadium as the Milwaukee Brewers collected a 4-0 victory in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Monday to secure a two-games-to-one advantage.
The game featured a sampling of this summer's Dodgers lowlights. Yasmani Grandal failed to smother a wild pitch that let in a run, then heard chants for backup Austin Barnes after committing a passed ball. Walker Buehler lasted until the seventh inning, in which he gave up a two-run home run to slap-hitting shortstop Orlando Arcia. The offense struck out 14 times and was hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position, including a stomach-turning ninth inning.
Dodger Stadium is loud in October, and not because the public address system is set to release sound at unreasonably high volumes. Whatever outsiders say about the spectators here showing up late and departing early, these fans can unleash thunderous howls that can be heard on the concrete banks of the Los Angeles River. In their most raucous moments, they make this place shake, literally.
Blue Heaven on Earth, as Tommy Lasorda calls the 56-year-old stadium, was dead Monday night. And who could blame the crowd?
The guttural roar heard throughout Dodger Stadium early Monday afternoon was a current of air whipping down from the Elysian Hills, bending palms, toppling trash cans.
By nightfall, though, the whoosh wasn't the wind, it was the wipeout.
It was the sound of Dodgers flailing at Milwaukee Brewer fastballs with their useless bats. It was Cody Bellinger waving at a fly ball he did not catch. It was Yasmani Grandal whiffing at just about everything, everywhere, at the plate, behind the plate, you name it.
BOTTOM OF NINTH: Jeremy Jeffress now pitching. Turner singled to center. Machado doubled to left, Turner to third. Bellinger popped to short. Puig walked. Grandal struck out swinging. Dozier struck out looking. The Dodgers had their chances tonight, they just couldn’t get the key hit when they needed it. BREWERS 4, DODGERS 0
TOP OF NINTH: Dylan Floro pitching. Freese at first base. Kemp in left field. Kratz walked. Arcia grounded to third, forcing Kratz at second. Perez singled to left, Arcia stopping at second. Cain struck out swinging and the Brewers attempted a double steal, with Grandal throwing Perez out at second. Grandal finally did something right. BREWERS 4, DODGERS 0.
BOTTOM OF EIGHTH: Joakim Soria pitching. Chris Taylor fouled to first.. Josh Hader pitching. David Freese, batting for Pederson, struck out swinging. Matt Kemp, batting for Muncy, struck out swinging. BREWERS 4, DODGERS 0.
TOP OF EIGHTH: Alex Wood pitching. Chris Taylor in at second. Yelich reached on a bunt single. Braun hit into a rare force play to the right fielder, with Puig able to throw Yelich out at second. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Braun took second on a passed ball by Grandal. Shaw struck out swinging. Domingo Santana, hitting for Knebel, was walked intentionally. Moustakas flied to right. BREWERS 4, DODGERS 0