MILWAUKEE (AP) — It turns out there is way more to the Milwaukee Brewers than just Christian Yelich.
The rest of this Brew Crew can play, too. Especially those guys in that loaded bullpen.
Jhoulys Chacin pitched five sparkling innings on short rest, Mike Moustakas contributed two more big hits and the Brewers blanked the Colorado Rockies 4-0 Friday to take a 2-0 lead in their NL Division Series.
While the sweet-swinging Yelich had a quiet day by his lofty standards, the NL Central champions showed off their supporting cast on the way to their 10th straight win going back to an impressive finish to the regular season. Erik Kratz had two hits and two RBIs, and Milwaukee’s bullpen closed the door after Chacin delivered in his playoff debut.
“It’s been the story of the last six weeks for us for sure, really since the trade deadline, is we’ve become a team with a lot of depth, and that’s how we’re going to have to win,” manager Craig Counsell said. “They’re making an effort to be very, very cautious with Yelich. It’s pretty clear. So guys behind him are going to have opportunities.”
Game 3 is Sunday at Coors Field. Another win, and Milwaukee is into the NL Championship Series for the first time since its previous postseason appearance in 2011.
“The only thing that changes is that we hit first,” Moustakas said. “Other than that, it’s still baseball. It’ll be a little bit of a hostile environment.”
The Rockies, who have played in four different cities since Sunday, are hoping a return to more familiar surroundings will help jump-start their dormant lineup.
“We’re going home, where we feel really good hitting,” shortstop Trevor Story said. “Hopefully we can get it turned around there.”
Nolan Arenado had two of Colorado’s six hits — just two more than the franchise playoff low set in Thursday’s 3-2, 10-inning loss in Game 1. The wild-card Rockies have scored six times in their last four games, and their potent lineup is showing signs of frustration.
Chris Iannetta snapped his bat in half over his right leg after he struck out with a runner on third, no one out and Colorado down 1-0 in the seventh. Arenado threw down his bat and helmet after he struck out swinging in the fifth.
Carlos Gonzalez leaned over with his hands on his knees after he lined out in the eighth.
“They’ve got some quality arms. They’ve got good stuff,” manager Bud Black said. “But with that said, it is a little surprising that we’re not generating some runs.”
The Rockies had just one hit through eight innings in the series opener before rallying for two runs in the ninth against Jeremy Jeffress. But the All-Star was back to his normal self in Game 2, working around a single in the eighth and ninth for his first save in his third career playoff game.
The excitable right-hander punctuated the win with a big fist pump after retiring David Dahl for the final out.
“It’s fun,” Jeffress said with 4-year-old daughter Jurnee sitting in his lap. “I’m enjoying every single moment, and that shows.”
Jeffress shared some Gatorade with Jurnee while she waited patiently for him to finish up.
“Every time I leave that bullpen, I say it’s for her,” the 31-year-old Jeffress said. “I mean, to have her watch and understand — she understands. She does fist pumps just like I do. She understands, and to have her here enjoying this moment with me, it’s great.”
Backed by a sellout crowd of 44,547 waving yellow towels and standing for every big moment, Chacin set up Milwaukee’s bullpen by escaping a pair of early jams. The veteran right-hander, who helped pitch the Brewers past the Chicago Cubs in the division tiebreaker Monday at Wrigley Field, allowed three hits and walked three.
Tyler Anderson matched Chacin zero for zero before Moustakas and Hernan Perez hit consecutive one-out doubles in the fourth. The Brewers had a chance for more, but Perez was caught off third in a baserunning blunder and Kratz flied out to end the inning.
Moustakas, who got the game-ending hit in the series opener, came up with the bases loaded in the eighth and singled in Yelich to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead. Kratz tacked on a two-run single with two out.
“That’s just what we’ve done all year. We pick each other up, and it’s huge,” Kratz said.
The 30-year-old Moustakas helped Kansas City win the World Series in 2015 and was acquired by Milwaukee in a trade in late July. Back in the playoffs for the first time since that run with the Royals, the veteran third baseman is working on another memorable October.
“His experience, it’s important,” Counsell said. “It really is.”
Yelich went 0 for 2 and walked twice. After almost winning the Triple Crown this year, he homered, singled, walked twice and scored two runs Thursday in his first postseason game.
Colorado right-hander German Marquez and Milwaukee left-hander Wade Miley make their playoff debut in Game 3. Marquez last pitched on Monday in the NL West tiebreaker game at Los Angeles, allowing four runs, two earned, in 4 2/3 innings in the Rockies’ 5-2 loss to the Dodgers. Miley signed with the Brewers in the offseason. The lefty went 3-0 with a 3.52 ERA in five September starts, but lasted just three innings in his most recent outing last Saturday against Detroit.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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