We have witnessed one of the best games in Division Series history.
Where do we start? The fantastic pitcher’s duel between Ian Kennedy and Yovani Gallardo? Both pitchers tossed six excellent innings under tremendous pressure. Gallardo’s only blemish was a home run off the bat of Justin Upton. Kennedy’s night could have gone much, much worse had he not gotten big outs in key situations, escaping a bases loaded situation in the fourth and and only allowing one run as the Brewers put the first two on in the sixth.
Nyjer Morgan was incredible again scoring a run, doubling, and of course adding the game-winning RBI. As great as his enthusiasm has been for the team, city and state, I just hope that his excellent on-field season doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. More postseason games like this will help. Morgan wasn’t very productive in this series, but you wouldn’t know it if you asked him: “What struggles? It’s baseball, man.” The depth of that quote should not be lost on the discerning reader — whether Morgan is simply referring to how little four games means or how much more there is to, you know, everything than just baseball, it’s a line that deserves some thought, regardless of how you view Morgan/Plush/Hush/Gumbel/Tombstone and now Clutch.
John Axford blew his first save since April 18th. But things could have gotten much worse, as the Diamondbacks still had two on and nobody out with Justin Upton on deck after the tying run scored. Axford showed why he was such a shutdown closer in the regular season over the next three batters, striking out Aaron Hill, inducing a weak grounder from Upton, and retiring former Brewer (and Danny Trejo stand-in) Henry Blanco to end the inning. Axford’s performance in the 10th was excellent, as he sat down Paul Goldschmidt, Chris Young, and former Brewer (and one of my favorite players of the time) Lyle Overbay to give the Brewers another chance to end it. The “blown save and win” for a reliever is always kind of an oddity — usually, it’s failure bailed out by the team’s success — but Axford bounced back fantastically from his ninth inning stumble and ended up instrumental to the victory.
The Diamondbacks played fantastic baseball and put up a great fight. I would imagine they were even ahead of the schedule Kevin Towers imagined when he was hired, and the organization deserves a ton of credit from the front office to the coaching staff to the team on the field for turning a disastrous 2010 into a return to the playoffs. The NL West crown might not be an easy one to hold, but barring the unforeseen, Arizona should hold a well-deserved spot as favorites entering the 2012 season.
There’s more to cover (and to be covered) and it’s really unfortunate we get less than 48 hours to unwind before it begins again against the hated St. Louis Cardinals. The action at Miller Park resumes on Sunday. For once, in October, the Milwaukee Brewers have earned the right to keep playing baseball. And for that, I am deeply thankful.