Diamondbacks sweep Brewers with back-to-back comeback victories and advance to the NLDS against the Dodgers. As Christian Yelich strolled to the plate in the ninth inning Wednesday night, the faint prospects of a once-promising season hanging in the balance, it was hard to flashback to a similar setting nearly five whole years ago.
10Yelich lifted a pitch from Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler toward the right-center field that landed just above the yellow stripe atop the outfield fence. This occurred at the same stadium, in the same month of October, from the same left-handed batter’s box. The home run, one of Yelich’s 38 during his MVP season, gave the Milwaukee Brewers a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning of National League Championship Series Game 7.
The Brewers were one game away from qualifying for the World Series for the second time in franchise history and the first time in 36 years. An entire generation had never witnessed the local nine take the field in the Fall Classic, and for the first time, they sensed that this possibility might materialize.
Never did occur. Milwaukee’s fantasy season ended when it was defeated 5-1 in front of its home fans in a game that ended its perfect season.
It has still not.
That October 2018 moment of burgeoning optimism and hope for the future flooded the mind as Yelich stepped into another crucial position on Wednesday.
In Game 2 of the National League wild-card series, the Brewers trailed the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5-2, as Andre Nickatina’s lyrics reverberated throughout the stadium. 3 a.m., we’re bumping Bobby Womack.
The Brewers were on the verge of elimination as they were down to their final out of the season. An abrupt, jarring, and violent conclusion to a season in which they won 92 games and won the division was looming, just as it had for each of the Brewers’ five playoff appearances over the previous six years.
Yelich doubled off the left-field wall to keep the season of 2023 alive, but he could not save it. Moments later, William Contreras swung at strike three from Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald, bringing with it the end of the season and the beginning of concerns about the Brewers’ future.
“That stuff will start stirring up,” Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff said. “It will occur naturally.”
In past offseasons, the Brewers have faced varying degrees of uncertainty but nothing comparable to what lies ahead.
There is the matter of who will manage the team. Craig Counsell, a leading candidate, has captained the ship since 2015 but is a free agent at the end of the year with an uncertain future.
With one year remaining on his contract, it is still being determined whether right-handed pitcher Corbin Burnes will be transferred this winter. The same could be said for shortstop Willy Adames and Woodruff, although given the shoulder injury that kept Woodruff out of the playoffs, it seems most probable that he will return.
Then there is the concern on everyone’s mind after yet another far-too-early elimination from the playoffs.