The Milwaukee Brewers appear to be in trouble after suffering a blowout loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the NLCS. The 12-3 beatdown occurred in the Crew's normally safe haven of Miller Park, and now the series heads to hostile Busch Stadium for Game 3.
Can the Brewers rebound and win a game or two on the road to bring the series back to Miller Park with a chance for their first World Series berth as a National League franchise?
To do so will require beating a talented and confident team, the same club that knocked off the Brewers in the 1982 Fall Classic, back when Harvey's Wallbangers were still part of the Junior Circuit.
The Cardinals exposed several serious Brewers flaws in the first two NLCS contests. For this squad of Brewers to recover and best St. Louis in the second Suds Series, these five things will need to happen.
It all starts with starting pitching, and the Brewers need to see drastic improvement, and soon. Here's all you need to know:
Yovani Gallardo: 14 IP, 2 ER, 0.93 WHIP
Shaun Marcum, Zack Greinke, Randy Wolf: 22.2 IP, 29 ER, 1.68 WHIP
The Brewers were lucky to make it to the NLCS with just one good starting pitcher. They have Gallardo going in Game 3, but they can't count on getting four wins in the NLCS without someone not named Gallardo stepping up and turning in a solid outing.
Kudos for knocking the St. Louis starters out of the game before the end of the fifth inning in both Game 1 and Game 2, but Milwaukee has really struggled against the Redbirds bullpen.
In 8.2 innings, Cardinals relievers have given up just three earned runs while holding the Brewers to six hits. That's not nearly good enough for this Brewers lineup.
Tony LaRussa is well-known for his strategy with the bullpen, and it won't be easy for the Brewers to break through. But if they want to advance to the World Series, they'd better find a way to start getting it done, and soon.
So far this postseason, Brewers starters have allowed 13 home runs in seven games.
Sure, "only" three of those have come against the Cardinals, but even 1.5 homers per game is more than any team allowed in the regular season.
Chris Narveson has been especially awful, giving up three long balls in just 4.1 innings, while Zack Greinke isn't far behind, serving up four bombs in his 11 innings pitched.
Not even ace Yovani Gallardo has been immune to the homer bug. His only two runs allowed have come on solo shots.
Keeping the ball in the park will go a long way toward solving the Crew's pitching woes, and it ought to be a top priority for the remainder of the postseason.
When playing the Cardinals, this is Rule No. 1: Don't let Albert Pujols beat you.
So far, that's exactly what's been happening to the Brewers.
Prince Albert is 5-9 with three doubles, a home run, three runs and five RBI. He's absolutely tearing the cover off the ball against the Brewers hurlers.
But pitching around Pujols won't be easy. Seven other Cardinals starters have multiple hits already in the NLCS, so giving Pujols a free pass won't solve the world's problems.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and pitching coach Rick Kranitz have their work cut out for them, and I'm glad to not be in their shoes right now trying to tame the pitcher-eating monster that is Albert Pujols.
After losing Game 2 at Miller Park, winning on the road is now a necessity if the Brewers hope to make it to the World Series.
Winning away from the friendly confines of Miller Park hasn't been easy for the Brew Crew this season, and the team looked horrendous in two losses at the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS. They'll need to find a way to win at Busch Stadium at least once in the next three games.
Luckily, Milwaukee played decently there during the regular season, winning three times in six games down the stretch in August and September. Brewers fans are holding their breath to see if they can do it again.