MILWAUKEE, WI - OCTOBER 01: Yovani Gallardo #49 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during Game One of the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Miller Park on October 1, 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

2011 NLDS: Brewers And Diamondbacks Prepare For Game 5 In Milwaukee

With the home teams winning each of the first four games, this Division Series shifts back to Milwaukee for a decisive Game 5.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers, Game 4: What Happened In Milwaukee, Stayed In Milwaukee

Powered by four home runs -- including Ryan Roberts' grand slam and Chris Young's two blasts -- the Diamondbacks evened their Division Series with a 10-6 victory over the Brewers.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: Josh Collmenter, Paul Goldschmidt Power Arizona To Game 3 Win

After two Division Series games in which they looked overmatched, the Arizona Diamondbacks overwhelmed the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3, 8-1.

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Brewers vs. Diamondbacks: Game 1 Highlights From The Live-Blog

Yovani Gallardo pitched a gem on Saturday night, giving up just one run in eight innings as the Milwaukee Brewers put away the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-1. The Diamondbacks were never able to mount a serious offensive charge as Gallardo dominated, powering Milwaukee to a 1-0 series advantage in its NLDS matchup.

Below are a few of the highlights from the live-blog, which you can read in its entirety here.

In the first, Willie Bloomquist nearly notched the first run of the game, almost single-handedly manufacturing a run. He singled, stole second, then looked primed to come around for the first run of the game on a Justin Upton single. But Ryan Braun had other ideas, and threw Bloomquist out at the plate to end the threat.

So to recap: Willie Bloomquist got on base, but he was cut down when Ryan Braun made a good defensive play. Seems fair, universe. Keep it up.

As Rob Neyer noted, this at-bat, which came against Chris Young in the third, sums up Gallardo's day nicely. Everything was low and away, and Gallardo spent the afternoon hitting his spots throughout.

Oungallardo-new_medium

In the fourth, Milwaukee broke the scoreless tie, but probably should have come away with more than just one run. The Brewers loaded the bases without nobody out, but faltered, only plating one run on a sacrifice fly.

Prince Fielder's at-bat was more Wee Willie Keeler than Willie Stargell -- a cue shot just past the third baseman down the left-field line. Ian Kennedy hit Rickie Weeks with a pitch, and there the Brewers went! Bases loaded, no outs. They were off!

... and they picked up a sacrifice fly. That was it.

Milwaukee added another run in the sixth to take a 2-0 lead, and Grant Brisbee may have an idea how the Brewers accomplished such a feat.

And now ...

... there are ...

... shadows with which to contend!!!!! Right on the field! Shadows! Maybe the announcers should bring that up. It probably makes for tough hitting conditions.

An inning later, the Brewers added two more runs, giving themselves a bit more breathing room. It wouldn't be needed, though, as Gallardo turned in a gem, power Milwaukee to a 4-1 series-opening win -- Arizona's only run came on a solo shot in the eighth. With the win, the Brewers took a 1-0 series advantage, hopping into the driver's seat to open the series.

For more from the game, check out the rest of the live-blog.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: Milwaukee Takes First Game Behind Dominant Performance By Yovani Gallardo

In the third inning of the Milwaukee Brewers' victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday, Yovani Gallardo faced Chris Young with a runner on first and two out. Here's what the at-bat looked like:

 


That was the representative Yovani Gallardo sequence of the day. It's not just that he throws 94-mph with a great breaking ball -- which he certainly does -- it's that he was painting, painting, painting all afternoon long. It's hard to separate an offense that's failing to execute from a pitcher who is executing brilliantly. I'm pretty sure that the Diamondbacks' hitters shouldn't get too down on themselves after this one.

The Brewers got on the board first after loading the bases with no outs in the fourth inning, with Ryan Braun singling, Prince Fielder doubling, and Rickie Weeks getting hit by a pitch.  The Brewers could only score a single, though, getting a sac fly from Jerry Hairston, Jr. and two groundouts to end the inning.

One of those groundouts came from Yuniesky Betancourt, but he redeemed himself in the sixth inning, tripling with two outs. Jonathan Lucroy singled him home to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead with Yovani Gallardo on deck. 

The Brewers had more two-out magic in the bottom of the seventh inning. After Ryan Braun doubled down the right-field line, Prince Fielder hit a line-drive home run for a 4-0 lead. 

In both instances, Kirk Gibson had a choice to make. He chose to pitch to Lucroy with the pitcher on deck and two outs, and he chose to pitch to Prince Fielder with a base open and two outs. Kennedy didn't even mess around with the ol' unintentional intentional walk. If the game were closer, Gibson might have been under the microscope just a little bit. 

As is, it was Gallardo's game. He was mostly perfect before he allowed a solo home run to Ryan Roberts in the eighth inning. As if to reestablish his dominance like in some sort of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom special, Gallardo then struck out the side. 

John Axford came in for the save, pitching a stress-free, 1-2-3 ninth, and the Brewers took the first game of the NLDS. They'll have Zack Grienke on the mound on Sunday.

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Brewers vs. Diamondbacks: Gallardo Gunning for Shutout?

Yovani Gallardo's working on a shutout, with his Brewers up 2-0 through the top of the seventh inning.

Does Gallardo have a good shot at finishing the whitewash?

Gallardo has thrown only three shutouts in his 116 career starts (including a Division Series start against the Phillies, three years ago). Two of those shutouts came in 2010, and the other came this season ... nearly six months ago, against the Braves. In that game, Gallardo gave up only two hits -- same as this one, so far -- but struck out only two Braves, compared to six Diamondbacks (so far) today.

He's thrown 87 pitches in his seven innings, or roughly 12 per inning. If he's able to maintain that pace, he'll need around 112 pitches to finish, and Gallardo was allowed to throw at least 110 pitches in 10 of his 33 starts this season.

So if he keeps pitching like this, the math's in his favor. That said, he did give up a couple of loud outs in the seventh inning, and the Brewers have two outstanding relief pitchers available in the late innings. Gallardo might get a shot at the shutout, but manager Ron Roenicke will probably have his starter on a short leash.

Brewers 2, Diamondbacks 0

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Brewers Score Again, Hold 2-0 Lead Through Six Innings

You know the old saying: "When Yuniesky Betancourt hits a triple, a Jonathan Lucroy RBI can't be far behind."

The Brewers and Diamondbacks are still locked in a pitchers' duel, but the Brewers took a 2-0 advantage when Betancourt tripled with two outs and Lucroy singled him home with a bloop. There's a lot of tomfoolery that can happen in a 1-0 game, and I feel safe in classifying a Betancourt triple as tomfoolery.

Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy have both been effective, but Gallardo has been more dominant. Kennedy has had lapses of control at times, hitting two batters and leaving some pitches in the zone. Gallardo hasn't had any such problems since the first.

And now ...

... there are ...

... shadows with which to contend!!!!! Right on the field! Shadows! Maybe the announcers should bring that up. It probably makes for tough hitting conditions.

Three innings left for the Diamondbacks to do something. With Gallardo looking this good -- and the shadows! -- it could be tough for Arizona to score.

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Brewers Jump Ahead In Fourth, Lead 1-0

Ryan Braun started the bottom of the fourth inning off with a fantastic eight-pitch at-bat. He just made contact on a couple of foul tips before lining a ball into left field for a single.

Prince Fielder's at-bat was more Wee Willie Keeler than Willie Stargell -- a cue shot just past the third baseman down the left-field line. Ian Kennedy hit Rickie Weeks with a pitch, and there the Brewers went! Bases loaded, no outs. They were off!

... and they picked up a sacrifice fly. That was it. Jerry Hairston picked up the RBI before Yuniesky Betancourt yunieskied a grounder to third. Jonathan Lucroy grounded out to end the inning.

So while the Brewers are thrilled with the run, it was a bit of a missed opportunity. Therein lies the problem with the Braun/Fielder/Weeks troika batting ahead of Hairston/Betancourt/Lucroy. With the way Yovani Gallardo is pitching, though, one run could be enough.

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Brewers vs. Diamondbacks: Yovani Gallardo Looking Pretty Danged Good

Through four innings, Yovani Gallardo is in complete control, shutting out the Diamondbacks. And control is an operative word for Gallardo:

Walks per nine innings

2009: 4.6
2010: 3.6
2011: 2.6

Next year he becomes Cliff Lee and destroys the league, I suppose. Though, there's the counter-intuitive ERA to go along with his improved command:

2009: 3.73
2010: 3.84
2011: 3.52

ERA is very much an imperfect stat, of course, and the Brewers aren't known for being a superlative fielding team. Still, you have to wonder if one of these years, Gallardo's run prevention will match his peripherals.

And right after I finish this, Gallardo walks the leadoff hitter in the top of the fourth. Looks like a pretty tough zone, though:

Gallardohill_medium

 

Zoinks. He then struck out Justin Upton on four pitches, got Miguel Montero to fly out to deep right, and then struck out Chris Young on a goofy curveball.

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Brewers vs. Diamondbacks: Scoreless Through 2

The Diamondbacks mounted a serious threat in the top of the first inning but Ryan Braun killed it, and the hitters haven't done much since.

In the bottom of the first, Ian Kennedy zipped through the top of Milwaukee's lineup. In the bottom of the second, Kennedy struck out Prince Fielder looking and walked Rickie Weeks -- both working their counts full -- before Jerry Hairston shot a grounder toward third base that Ryan Roberts couldn't corral. Kennedy did recover, retiring Yuniesky Betancourt on a pop into short right field and Jonathan Lucroy on a liner to left.

One positive for Milwaukee: After throwing only 12 pitches in the first inning, Kennedy needed 27 to escape the second. Arizona's bullpen has been fine this season, but the Brewers would obviously prefer to see middle relievers instead of Ian Kennedy in the sixth and seventh innings.

Meanwhile, Gallardo settled down in his second inning, setting down the D'backs in order.

Diamondbacks 0, Brewers 0

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Things You Don't Hear

"Awesome! The raccoon is in the garage again, chewing through things."

"Say, hold off on going to the store, honey! This hotel minibar has everything we need, and they're having a sale!"

"I used to visit Baseball Reference, but that place isn't informative or user-friendly enough for me."

"Sweeeeeeeet! Joe West is umpiring this playoff series!"

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Ryan Braun Saves A Run With His Arm

Well, it's not like he has a hose, really. It was an accurate throw, but it was a two-hopper. 

Seconds after the world stopped making fun of Willie Bloomquist leading off in a playoff game, he singled. Then he stole second. In the span of two minutes, the Diamondbacks might have well had Rickey Henderson in his prime. And when Justin Upton hit a screaming line-drive single, it looked like Willie Bloomquist, leadoff hitter, was a genius move.

But Bloomquist isn't Rickey Henderson in his prime. When he rounded third, he kind of looked like what I'd imagine Henderson looking like on the bases today. That's not a terrible thing. I'm sure Rickey's still got something left. But it sure seemed like Bloomquist got a poor jump, or ran out of gas.

So to recap: Willie Bloomquist got on base, but he was cut down when Ryan Braun made a good defensive play. Seems fair, universe. Keep it up.

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xFIP: A Relevant Primer

xFIP stands for Expected Fielding Independent Pitching, which is defined like this:

Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) is a regressed version of FIP, developed by Dave Studeman from The Hardball Times. It’s calculated exactly the same as FIP, except it replaces a pitcher’s homerun rate with the league-average rate (10.6% HR/FB) since pitcher homerun rates have been shown to be very unstable over time. A pitcher may allow a homeruns on 12% of their flyballs one year, yet then turn around and only allow 7% the next year. Homerun rates can be very difficult to predict, so xFIP attempts to correct for that. Along with FIP, xFIP is one of the best metrics at predicting a pitcher’s future performance.

Some people don't like xFIP as a measure of a pitcher's performance, and some people don't like xFIP as a measure of a pitcher's future performance.

To each his own, but I know some smart people who do pay attention to the metric.

Why do I bring this up?

Today's Game 1 match-up of Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy might seem something of a mismatch.

Kennedy went 21-4 this season, and Gallardo went 17-10.

Kennedy posted a 2.88 ERA, Gallardo 3.52.

Kennedy's advantage shrinks when you consider FIP -- 3.22 for him, 3.50 for Gallardo -- but it's still an advantage.

Ah, but xFIP?

It flips everything around. Because of home runs and the supposed variability therein, Gallardo's 3.19 trumps Kennedy's 3.50.

Oh, and one more thing ... Care to guess who led the National League in xFIP this season?

Nope, not a Phillie. Nor a Giant.

Gallardo's teammate Zack Greinke led the NL with a 2.56 xFIP. He's ahead of the three Phillies, Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, and then Gallardo.

Maybe none of this matters. But there's that thing about future performance...

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Lyle Overbay Starts At First Base

After eleven seasons and 1259 games played in the majors, Lyle Overbay is in the playoffs for the first time. Even more exciting (for him, at least) is that he's starting. And he's doing it for the team that drafted him, though it's weird to think of him as a former Diamondback. He was shipped off after his rookie year for Richie Sexson.

Wait a sec .... A lefty-hitting first-base prospect, with okay-not-great power but high averages and on-base percentages in the minors, traded away for a veteran, but returned to his original team when he was well past his prime.

This is Brandon Belt's future, isn't it? Oh, no ...

Overbay starts over Paul Goldschmidt, who ended his regular season in a mini-slump. Plus, Overbay is 2-for-3 off Yovani Gallardo in his career. That's a .667 average! While it's valid to wonder if Overbay is the better option, it sure is a nice luxury to have Goldschmidt available as a pinch-hitter.

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Diamondbacks Add Jarrod Parker To Roster For NLDS

After just 5⅔ innings in the major leagues, right-handed pitching prospect Jarrod Parker is on the Diamondbacks' postseason roster.

Kirk Gibson: Okay, Parker. You're up. Game One is yours. Sit down, Kennedy.

Ian Kennedy: Wait, what?

Gibson: This Maddon cat is onto something. If a 22-year-old with nine innings of experience can shut down the Rangers, imagine what a 22-year-old with five innings of experience can do!

Jarrod Parker: Okay. Let me throw up for an hour or so, and I think I'll be okay.

Well, Parker isn't actually going to start a game, but it's still a bit of a surprise that he's on the roster at all. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic does a good job explaining why:

It’s not that I don’t think Parker is a better option – he probably is, based off the way he pitched in the second half of the minor league season, in the Double-A playoffs, in his big league debut Tuesday – it’s just that he’s in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, has already surpassed his targeted innings (by a long shot) and has never pitched in relief before.
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Brewers Lineup For Game One

The Brewers' lineup is in, and it looks like Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are on the bench.

Corey Hart - RF
Nyjer Morgan - CF
Ryan Braun - LF
Prince Fielder - 1B
Rickie Weeks - 2B
Jerry Hairston - 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt - SS
Jonathan Lucroy - C
Yovani Gallardo - P

Oh, wait, there they are.

No real surprises, as Corey Hart has been the leadoff hitter since Rickie Weeks went down to injury. Hart ended up having a pretty fantastic year with the bat, so Ron Roenicke left him where he was when Weeks returned. Nyjer Morgan has the traditional speed that a lot of managers are enamored of in a leadoff hitter, but Roenicke likes his #2 hitter to do #2-hitter things, and Morgan's as good a candidate as any.

Hairston gets the start at third base against a right-hander over Casey McGehee, who got sucked into a BABIP vortex this year.

The Brewers were second in the National League with a 102 team OPS+, tied with the ... Mets?

/kicks computer

Work better, you stupid thing. Work better.

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Diamondbacks Lineup For Game One

You scrap and claw for 162 games, you make the playoffs, and then you wake up and Willie Bloomquist is hitting leadoff for you.

Willie Bloomquist - SS
Aaron Hill - 2B
Justin Upton - RF
Miguel Montero - C
Chris Young - CF
Lyle Overbay - 1B
Ryan Roberts - 3B
Gerardo Parra - LF
Ian Kennedy - P

And while it's tempting to make fun of Aaron Hill at the top of the order, he did hit .315/.386/.492 after coming over from the Blue Jays. He might be the hardest player in the game to figure out. He's either fine with the bat (2005-2007), an All-Star caliber hitter (2009, second half of 2011), or a lousy hitter (2008, 2010, first half of 2011). One of those. Have fun trying to figure him out.

One of the bigger surprises is Lyle Overbay starting at first over Paul Goldschmidt. Maybe Goldschmidt's busy tearing down oak trees with his bare hands because he can. Overbay picked up only 42 at-bats after the Diamondbacks picked him up, and Goldschmidt became the regular at first, but apparently Gibson liked the way Overbay matched up with Game One starter Yovani Gallardo.

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NL Division Series Preview: Brewers vs. Diamondbacks

The Brewers are famous for their big boppers, but they're actually keyed by their outstanding starting pitchers. Will that be enough to beat the Arizona Cinderfellas?

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Diamondbacks Vs. Brewers, NLDS Game 1 Preview: Time, TV Schedule, Lineups And More

The Arizona Diamondbacks will send 21-game winner Ian Kennedy to the mound against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series on Saturday.

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Brewers NLDS Rotation: Yovani Gallardo To Start Game One

The rest of the rotation is up in the air, but Brewers manager Ron Roenicke is going with Yovani Gallardo in the first game of the NLDS. From the Associated Press:

Even before they found out who or where they're playing, the Milwaukee Brewers decided to hand the ball to Yovani Gallardo for Game 1 of the NL Division Series.

What could have been a difficult decision was made easier by the logistics of the end of the season. Zack Greinke pitched in the season finale against the Pirates, and because the Brewers were still jockeying for home-field advantage for the first round, he pitched a full six innings (albeit throwing only 74 pitches). This would probably take him out of the running for a start in the second game, which would go to Shaun Marcum.

One thing that could make Roenicke pitch Grienke on three-days' rest, though, is Marcum's splits this season:

I Split W L ERA G IP HR BB SO
Home 5 4 4.81 17 103.0 14 34 76
Away 8 3 2.21 16 97.2 8 23 82
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/29/2011.


Maybe it's a fluke, or maybe it isn't, but Marcum hasn't liked Miller Park this season. And it's worth nothing that he hasn't given up a single earned run at Chase Field this year. Well, he hasn't pitched there either, but don't be a lawyer about it.

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Arizona Diamondbacks Rotation For NLDS To Start With Kennedy

Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson wasn't sure exactly who will start the first two games of the NLDS, according to MLB.com:

"Trust me, I'll think it all out when it's time," Gibson said. "I really will. There's so many numbers to look at -- home and road, ground ball/fly ball, strikeout rates, what kind of lineups you're up against, who holds runners better. There's a lot of different things that I'll think about it. We'll talk it out and go."

But the rotation lined up to have Ian Kennedy go in the first game, and Daniel Hudson in the second game, and Josh Collmenter will go for the third game. If there's a fourth game, Joe Saunders would start, which makes this a great time to reflect on the idea that Joe Saunders might start a postseason game this year, and Dan Haren won't. That's not a sentence you thought you'd read when the trade was made, nor in March of this year. 

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Diamondbacks And Brewers Square Off In Division Series

Milwaukee will potentially have an extra home game against Arizona, and that make a big difference.

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