In 2008, Yovani Gallardo was named the Game 1 starter for the Brewers-Phillies NLDS. This year, he was named the Game 1 starter against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, but the circumstances were much different.
In 2008, Gallardo was injured nearly the entire season, and had only one start under his belt that season. So getting a playoff start- especially the first game- must have been a surprise. But, the Brewers had used CC Sabathia to clinch the Wild Card on the last day of the season, so he couldn’t be used until Game 2 at the earliest. And you can’t blame them for not wanting to use Dave Bush or Jeff Suppan in Game 1, so Gallardo was actually the only legitimate choice. Gallardo would end up losing that game, thanks to three unearned runs served up by the Brewers’ defense.
But this year was different for him. Gallardo was ready for a Game 1 start in 2011, after leading the Brewers in wins (17) and strikeouts (207). He also ended up leading the rotation in ERA (3.52). So, considering he was the ace of the staff this year (and that Zack Greinke had been used on the last day of the season), he was again the choice for Game 1.
And he certainly didn’t disappoint. The Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks in the all-important Game 1 of the NLDS, 4-1, and pretty much rode on the back of Gallardo’s great start the entire time (until he finally got some run support towards the end). Gallardo went eight stellar innings, while giving up one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out nine for his first career postseason win.
To be honest with you, Gallardo didn’t look good in the first inning. He allowed a leadoff single to Willie Bloomquist on the first pitch of the game, then allowed Bloomquist to steal second. Then, Justin Upton hit a single to left field, which you’d think would score the speedy Bloomquist, right? Think again. Left fielder Ryan Braun threw a laser to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and they nailed Bloomquist at home to prevent the first run from scoring. Just another reason Braun should be MVP, though… Anyway, that play changed the game for both teams, because after that, the D-backs couldn’t seem to do anything to get a run in.
The Brewers couldn’t get anything going against Ian Kennedy and his 21 wins until the fourth inning, when they had bases loaded with no outs against him. But, they only scored one run, courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Jerry Hairston Jr. I’m beginning to wonder what our batting average with runners on would look like if Yuniesky Betancourt weren’t on this team… Anyway, the Brewers tacked on another run in the sixth inning on Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI single.
Then, Kirk Gibson made a rather interesting decision in the seventh inning. Kennedy had just given up a two-out double to Braun, and Prince Fielder was coming up. Gibson then came out to talk to Kennedy, and probably ask him if he wanted to intentionally walk Fielder. Kennedy must have said no, which turned into a boneheaded decision on his part. He threw a first pitch fastball to Fielder, and then Fielder backed out of the batter’s box and simply smirked. He was probably thinking, “You’re actually going to pitch to me?” And that was exactly what Kennedy was doing. But, the next pitch definitely made him regret it.
Kennedy handed Fielder a hanging curveball on a silver platter for Fielder to crush over the right field wall for a two-run shot. But I’m still trying to figure out why Kennedy, with a base open at first, even pitched to Fielder.
Anyway, the Diamondbacks’ only run came on a Ryan Roberts home run leading off the eighth inning. Gallardo’s reaction to that? Striking out the side to finish the eighth. John Axford would then come in to finish the game in the ninth for his first career postseason save.
The Brewers will try and take a 2-0 advantage in this series later today against the D-backs, and will send Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA), who will be making his first career postseason start. He’s 11-0 at home this season, but is 0-2 against the D-backs in his career, so one of those streaks will come to an end today. Also note that this will be the second straight start that he’ll be starting on three days’ rest, so I guess we’ll see how he reacts to that.
The D-backs will counter with Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49 ERA), who will also be making his first postseason start. He finished the regular season 0-3 with a 4.26 ERA, so he doesn’t have much momentum coming into this start. The Brewers faced him once earlier this year, and tagged him for five runs, but all five of those runs were driven in by pitcher Shaun Marcum, who doesn’t start until tomorrow. So I don’t know how the rest of the offense will do against this guy.