The Brewers kept Gio Gonzalez on the mound for just two innings as they kicked off Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers on Friday. Gonzalez expended 32 pitches in that span and fired off a 1-2-3 inning to retire the side in the first. In the second inning, he wasn’t quite so lucky:
The blistering line drive home run from Manny Machado clocked in at a whopping 115.6 MPH and needed just 173 feet to clear the fence and land in the right-field bullpen. According to Statcast, the 25-year-old slugger hasn’t hit a harder home run since the beginning of the Statcast era in 2015.
With Clayton Kershaw on the mound and Gonzalez gone, it looked as though the Dodgers had a chance of keeping their slim lead over the Brewers, at least for a little while. Right-hander Brandon Woodruff replaced Gonzalez at the top of the third inning and retired the next three batters, polishing off the top half of the inning with a three-pitch strikeout to Justin Turner.
And then, on a 2-2 fastball from Kershaw in the bottom of the inning, he punched a leadoff home run of his own:
The massive 407-footer not only evened the score, but placed Woodruff in rare company as well. Per Christopher Kamka of NBC Sports Chicago, the last relief pitcher to register a postseason home run was Travis Wood, who logged a solo homer for the Cubs during the 2016 NLDS. Prior to that? Rosy Ryan did it in the World Series… for the 1924 New York Giants.
The Brewers currently lead 2-1 in the fourth following Hernan Perez‘s go-ahead sac fly off of Kershaw.