By Adam Roberts – 10/12/2021
Josh Hader just doesn’t give up postseason home runs, or many long balls at all for that matter.
There’s just something about Freddie Freeman.
The Braves’ first baseman took the first pitch he saw from the Brewers’ All-Star reliever and sent it to the centerfield bleachers. It was the second home run Freeman has hit off Hader, with the previous one coming in the 10th inning of a contest in May of 2019. The longball tonight was just the seventh home run Hader had allowed to left-handed batters in his career, but it would be the final dagger in the Brewers’ postseason plans. With the 5-4 loss, the Crew were eliminated in the National League Division Series, and are left to wonder what could have been had the offense been even just a little more productive.
Going into the top of the fourth inning, Milwaukee had been held scoreless for the last 21 innings and were an abysmal 0-19 with runners in scoring position. They finally broke through on an Omar Narvaez RBI single followed by a Lorenzo Cain base knock to score another run. But the Braves would counter in the bottom half of the inning. The fifth featured another Rowdy Tellez home run, but that was also followed by two more runs in the bottom of that inning.
Freeman’s 428-foot solo shot moves the Braves to the NLCS for the second straight year, where they’ll face the winner of Thursday’s Giants-Dodgers series finale. Meanwhile for Milwaukee, they’ll enter the offseason hoping to keep most of the band together for next year. Avi Garcia seems like the only name at the moment that could likely be gone for next season, but general manager David Stearns will still need to make tough decisions as all GM’s do following another early playoff exit.
On a positive note, it should be recognized that Luis Urias was dynamite at third base today, killing a number of Atlanta scoring opportunities. He will likely look to lock that position down this upcoming spring.
At the end of the day, 2021 will be looked back upon by fans, media, and likely some players as another “what if?” year for Milwaukee. The stretch of play in September and into the postseason where the offense couldn’t seem to click was ultimately a foreshadowing of the NLDS to come, and will hopefully be used as fuel for what to improve upon next year.