Top Brewers Moments in Miller Park History: Woodruff Homers off Kershaw
By Leo Koenig
With the renaming of Miller Park officially happening at year’s end, here at Reviewing the Brew, we’re going to remember the top Brewers moments in Miller Park’s history.
Starting on January 1st, the Brewers home stadium will no longer be called Miller Park, but instead will be called American Family Field. Despite fan uproar about the change, it’s going to happen. The stadium has been named Miller Park for 20 years and has brought some incredible memories to Brewers fans.
We are going to be remembering some of the most important moments that came from this stadium and tell the stories of these days. It’s time to look at when Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff took Clayton Kershaw deep in game one of the 2018 NLCS.
Woodruff’s homer off Kershaw, 2018 NLCS (October 12th, 2018)
With the National League potentially adopting the designated hitter going forward, this may very well go down as the last great “pitcher hitting” moment in baseball history. It’s not often that you see pitchers hit home runs at all, let alone in the National League Championship Series and against a player of Kershaw’s caliber.
In fact, it was the first time ever that a left-handed pitcher hit a home run off a left-handed pitcher in a postseason game.
Most Brewers fans will remember exactly where they were when this absolutely electric moment happened. I was a freshman in college sitting in my cramped dorm room with 4 or 5 of my baseball-loving friends just glued to our TV. I don’t think I sat down the entire time I was so nervous and excited for that ballclub. Whatever readings and assignments I had due the next day would have to wait.
The Brewers were coming off an amazing September run to sneak up on the Chicago Cubs and win the NL Central, capped off by a game 163 at Wrigley Field where Milwaukee took care of business, 3-1. When the Colorado Rockies beat Chicago in the Wild Card Game, the Brewers continued their hot streak with a dominant 3-0 sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS, featuring a walk-off single by Mike Moustakas in game one.
Heading into game one of the NLCS against a Dodgers team stacked with talent, it truly felt like the Brewers were allergic to losing, and could handle anything thrown at them.
This proved true in that first game against Los Angeles on Friday, October 12th.
It was the third inning of the biggest game the Brewers had played since 2011. The Brewers were down 0-1 courtesy of a Manny Machado home run off “opener” Gio Gonzalez in the previous inning.
So in the bottom of the inning with a 2-2 count and nobody out, Kershaw made the critical mistake of giving Woodruff a 92 mph fastball right down the middle of the plate, and Woody pounced on it. Against most pitchers, Kershaw likely could’ve gotten away with it, but Woodruff was not messing around up there. He confidently squared it up just like a position player would.
Joe Buck was on the call for Fox, and he was just as shocked as all 43,615 fans in the stadium were, saying “Are you KIDDING me?!” as the ball sailed over Cody Bellinger’s head in center field.
Woodruff’s home run energized the top of the Brewers order and led to a big rest of the third inning. Lorenzo Cain singled right after Woody got done rounding the bases, and eventually came around to score on a sac-fly by Hernan Perez.
The next inning, the bottom of the order came in clutch. Orlando Arcia ripped a base-hit to Chris Taylor in left, who misplayed it, allowing Manny Pina to advance to third. Then, Domingo Santana, who had begun to thrive in a pinch-hit role, drove both Pina and Arcia in with a double of his own, making the score 4-1.
Miller Park was LOUD.
After Josh Hader came in and threw 3 scoreless innings, Corey Knebel shut the door and the Brewers found themselves with a 6-5 victory and a 1-0 lead in the series against the Dodgers with a trip to the World Series starting to seem like a real possibility.
As we all know, the Brewers went on to lose this series in heartbreaking fashion in seven games, but moments like this one inside the packed Miller Park will remain indelible in the minds of the Milwaukee faithful. The 2018 team led by MVP Christian Yelich was one of the best teams in franchise history without question, and they put together a heck of a run.
There’s always going to be “what-ifs” when a team comes as close to the promised land as the 2018 Brewers did, but looking back on it now, I think most can agree that it was a joyous ride that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Brandon Woodruff already has an All-Star appearance in his young career and is likely headed for more accolades. That said, no matter how the rest of his career turns out, he will always have this unbelievable Miller Park moment to look back on, as will the rest of the 2018 team and Brewers fans everywhere.