MILWAUKEE — Heading into Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, it would be appropriate to roll out the cliches about ultimate games.
“This one’s for all the marbles.”
“There is no tomorrow.”
“It’s do or die.”
“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
Those cliches would apply as the Milwaukee Brewers host the California Angels, their series almost improbably tied at two games apiece. But this series has been anything but typical, the Brewers anything but conventional this season. For the past two games, they have kept the elimination wolves at bay with guts, guile and Mark Brouhard. Like the final game in Baltimore, both teams could be down to their final nine innings.
It wouldn’t be too far-flung to suggest the pressure is on the Angels today. They’ve had two opportunities to advance to the World Series and they have missed them both. The game is at County Stadium and they won’t get a chance to have the last laugh. That belongs to the Crew, who have laughed in the face of baseball death since that final week in Baltimore. Somehow, someway the Crew lives and breathes.
The Brewers faithful, however, haven’t been breathing easily for some time now. Every game has been fraught with peril, every pitch filled with tension. Yesterday was different for Crew fans, though. Harvey Kuenn went with Brouhard in left for Ben Oglivie, who not only was in a 1-for-11 slump but who also had sore ribs, and it paid off. The Crew was up 6-0 before the Angels knew what hit them, and it was Brouhard.
Today, hits may be tough to come by. It’s going to be cool, cloudy and windy, more football weather than baseball. But with the NFL on strike, there is no football today. The Brewers have the eyes of the state and the country on them.
As for the offenses, they will face two pitchers who were on their games in Game 2. For the Angels, it’s Bruce Kison, who completely baffled the Brewers. It’s no wonder. Kison could rightfully borrow the “Mr. October” mantel from teammate Reggie Jackson. Kison is a brilliant 31-7 in September and October and he’s going on three days rest. His numbers are stellar there too, going 10-1 with 2.47 ERA. The only bump in the road for Kison is the blister under the fingernail of his middle finger on his throwing hand.
Milwaukee’s ace, Pete Vuckovich, will hope to give his middle finger to the Angels’ potent lineup. Vuke gave up four runs on six hits in Game 2 and will need to be a bit better today. The way things have gone in this series and with these pitchers, four runs may be enough to win the American League pennant. First pitch is at 3:20 p.m. CT.
Here are the lineups. Oglivie is back and so is Gorman Thomas, who has a bum knee. We’ll see how long he lasts today. Go Crew.