I wouldn’t change a thing.
Yovani Gallardo put together a start for the ages, holding the Diamondbacks to just one run on three hits. He tied Don Sutton‘s record for strikeouts in a playoff game with nine and he only allowed one free pass. For at least the first seven innings, he challenged Mike Caldwell’s 1982 World Series-opening complete game shutout for the best start in Brewers postseason history (a small history, to be fair, but with its share of good performances). By game score, Gallardo’s 78 ranks second, only behind Caldwell’s 83 in the aforementioned shutout, and well ahead of Pete Vuckovich’s 62 in the 1981 ALDS, the next best performance.
Although the offense was stymied by Ian Kennedy early on, there were signs they would break through. Kennedy struggled to put away hitters. The Brewers were putting the ball in play, striking out only twice over the first three innings and putting the ball in the air on a regular basis. Then, in the fourth, they broke through. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder did much of the legwork, with a Braun single followed by a Fielder double to set up the first real threat of the game. The Brewers couldn’t cash in as much as they hoped, but they broke through with a Jerry Hairston — who also played fine defense at third — sacrifice fly.
With a 1-0 lead and Gallardo cruising, the tone was set. The Brewers added an unlikely second run thanks to a Yuniesky Betancourt triple and a Jon Lucroy bloop single in the sixth. The superstars put the game away in the seventh, as Ryan Braun doubled, showing off impressive plate coverage on an opposite-field double. Then Prince Fielder showed off his mammoth power, depositing Ian Kennedy’s final pitch into the right field seats. The move to pitch to Fielder with first base open and two outs will be roundly criticized. It’s true, the move was probably a mistake, but don’t underestimate the impact of seeing Rickie Weeks in that on-deck circle instead of Casey McGehee or Jerry Hairston Jr.
Gallardo couldn’t bring the shutout home, as Ryan Roberts tattooed a home run to center to open up the eighth. But Gallardo struck out the next three batters, John Axford finished it out with a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Brewers took a 4-1 victory out of game one.
The Brewers perfectly executed Milwaukee Brewers baseball, and now Zack Greinke gets a chance to give the Brewers a huge lead in his first ever postseason start tomorrow at Miller Park. It’s a good day for baseball in Milwaukee.