Brewers shut out Rockies for 2-0 lead in the NLDS

Hernan Perez
AP Images
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After teetering on a one-run lead through the first seven innings of Friday’s game, the Brewers came back in full force to win 4-0 over the Rockies and extend their advantage to 2-0 in the National League Division Series.

Milwaukee right-hander Jhoulys Chacín carried the team through five innings of three-hit, three-walk, three-strikeout ball. The Rockies managed to get a runner in scoring position during the first inning, but Trevor Story nixed that possibility after he closed out his seven-pitch at-bat with an inning-ending strikeout. Colorado was no more successful in the third inning — with DJ LeMahieu hovering on second base, Nolan Arenado whiffed on three straight pitches against Chacín and Carlos Gonzalez chopped a grounder to first for the third out.

The Brewers weren’t the only ones who brought their A game on the mound, however. While the Rockies were stymied on the basepaths, lefty Tyler Anderson similarly stumped the Brewers after allowing four hits, two walks, and five strikeouts over six frames. The game remained scoreless until the fourth, when Mike Moustakas and Hernán Pérez lashed back-to-back doubles. Pérez lofted an 80.3-MPH changeup out to left field, where it bounced off the warning track and over the wall for a ground-rule double, thereby knocking in the first run of the afternoon.

While Erik Kratz faced off against Anderson, Pérez scooted around to third on a stolen base, then was subsequently caught in a rundown on another attempt to steal home. The Brewers challenged the call after Pérez dove back to third, but the original ruling was upheld and Kratz skied a 94-MPH heater to right field to end the inning.

With Chacín and Anderson off the mound, the game shifted into a battle of the bullpens. Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria, Josh Hader, and Jeremy Jeffress blanked the Rockies through another four innings, while Colorado turned to Scott Oberg, Harrison Musgrave, and Seunghwan Oh to keep Milwaukee’s offense at bay. In the seventh, Pérez returned with another ground-rule double to left field, just shy of topping the fence for a leadoff home run. Travis Shaw laced a single out to right field to shift Pérez over to third base, but the Brewers’ attempt to pad their one-run lead fizzled out after Oberg struck out the side.

That sense of masterful pitching broke down a little at the tail end of the eighth inning, when Musgrave walked Christian Yelich on five pitches (per MLB.com’s Andrew Simon, the NL MVP contender has reached base safely several times in 13 straight games). Bud Black swapped Oh for Musgrave, with far more disastrous results: a Ryan Braun base hit, followed by Jesus Aguilar‘s walk and Moustakas’ bases-loaded RBI single to boost the Brewers’ lead to 2-0. Oh remained on the mound for another at-bat — a four-pitch strikeout against Pérez– but was then lifted for Chris Rusin, who struck out Travis Shaw before giving up a third and fourth run on Kratz’s two-RBI single. Before the inning unraveled any further, however, Jeffress took the first pitch he saw and smacked it back toward first base to close out the eighth.

What Jeffress failed to deliver at the plate, he made up for on the mound. Gerardo Parra led off with a single at the top of the ninth, but any hope that the Rockies might have staged a five-run comeback to even the playoff standings was quickly quashed. Jeffress retired Ian Desmond and Ryan McMahon on consecutive strikeouts, then induced a groundout from Dahl to cement the Brewers’ second win of the series.

With a 2-0 lead in the NLDS, the Brewers are poised to clinch when they go head-to-head against the Rockies in Game 3 on Sunday. Game time is set for 4:37 PM EDT as southpaw Wade Miley takes the hill versus right-hander German Márquez.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.