Along with Ryan Braun, the true stars of this Milwaukee Brewers team are Yovani Gallardo and Prince Fielder. Today, they showed why, leading the team tonight in the victory over the Astros.
You could actually make the argument that this was Gallardo’s worst start since April 10th against St. Louis, given the lack of quality hitters in the Astros lineup, although this start against Cincinnati and this one against Florida were probably worse. When a five strikeout, two walk start with one home run in six innings is possibly a pitcher’s worst start in three months, that pitcher is an ace. He still managed to do enough against the Astros to keep the Brewers ahead.
Perhaps more amazing was Gallardo’s third home run of the season to put the Brewers up 1-0. Prince Fielder added two home runs of his own. Entering the game, ZiPS projected Fielder to finish the season with 36; today’s performance makes a 40 home run season all the more likely.
The Brewers really controlled this game the whole way, although the Astros made it interesting for a few points. Pedro Feliz continues to hit the tar out of the ball, which is just one of those unfortunate things that a team can run into in a short series. Lance Berkman also got to John Axford in the ninth, but that’s not all that surprising, as John Axford is human. Axford still struck out two Astros to convert the three run save, and the bullpen recovered nicely from last night’s collapse, with Kameron Loe, Zach Braddock, and John Axford – in my mind, the best three relievers on the Brewer, with Carlos Villanueva close behind – shut down the Astros for the last three innings.
Tomorrow, the Brewers go for the series victory, with Dave Bush making what could be his last start as a Brewer against Wandy Rodriguez, who has been a shell of his former self this year. Expect some scoring tomorrow afternoon.