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Despite rocky start, Miller Park rocked and Brewers rolled in Game 6

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It has become a trope to call the National League Championship Series a chess match, and it certainly is that. But for Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, this was no little move. It wasn’t pushing a pawn ahead a square. It was moving your knight, right from the start, and putting the enemy on defensive.

That move: Roberts started 35-year-old, lefty-mashing, slow-running David Freese as his leadoff hitter against Milwaukee Brewers lefty Wade Miley. Miley, as you might recall, was making his second straight start, though in Game 5, he surprised most everybody by being strategically pulled after one batter.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“You just don’t know how it’s going to unfold,” Roberts said before the game. “With the way that we structured the lineup, and the guys we have on the bench, it just kind of gives us a little bit of flexibility on how we want to use the guys on the bench.”

Freese had started exactly three regular-season games as a leadoff hitter in his 10 big league seasons. He’s no Willie Wilson. Freese has only eight career stolen bases and zero since 2015. Roberts told him to stick with his usual approach, and so Freese began the game by lining a 2-2 Miley offering over the right-center-field wall.

Dodgers 1, Brewers 0.4

Miller Park had been rocking, jam-packed with more than 43,000 fans who have spent the past few weeks infected with a virulent Brewers fever that has overtaken the city of Milwaukee. Former commissioner and ex-Brewers owner Bud Selig even caught it, saying in a pregame news conference, “What the hell. I can’t sit here and tell you I’m not rooting for the Brewers.”

But reality has a way of overtaking euphoria. The Dodgers are postseason fixtures, still longing to win one more game than they did in 2017, when they fell one win shy of breaking a 29-year championship drought. Los Angeles entered the series as heavy favorites, and there was a sense of burgeoning inevitability.

Then Manny Machado stepped to the plate. Baseball’s newest villain was sure to get booed after his kerfuffle with Milwaukee’s Jesus Aguilar in Game 4. But this was some serious booing — sustained booing that echoed and reverberated around the closed roof of Miller Park. It was a melted cheese blanket of Wisconsin disdain. Strangely enough, Machado’s mere presence seemed to rekindle the furor with which the fans started the game.

“I felt my chest getting tight it was so loud in there,” Miley said. “Obviously, they were booing Manny in his first at-bat. It got pretty loud.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

It got ever louder when Machado struck out with Justin Turner on first base. After a Cody Bellinger groundout, Miley was out of the inning, down by only the one run. But he wasn’t down for long.

It started with a little roller up the middle by Lorenzo Cain that he legged out for an infield hit. Cain hasn’t hit leadoff that often in his career, thoug

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