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Milwaukee Brewers 4 Chicago Cubs 3
Players of the Game:
Ryan Braun: 3/5; HR, 3 RBIs GW 2B in 9th
Carlos Zambrano: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1/2 HR
Yovani Gallardo: His numbers aren't great, but if you have time check out what he did in the 4th inning on a bunt attempt by Reed Johnson. Looked like he tore every muscle on the sides of his knees. Instead he stays down for 10 minutes and pitches two more innings, despite me yelling at Yost to not ruin his career. It was a gutsy performance that probably earn him a couple of fans.
It's about time these two teams battled it out tooth and nail. I just wish they would have done it when they were on ESPN yesterday evening. People may have paid attention. Carlos Zambrano and Yovani Gallardo lived up to their names as ace and potential ace. Gallardo went through five giving up only one on Zambrano's opposite field homerun, before giving up two in the 6th on a couple of odd infield singles.
Zambrano was ridiculous again, but once again the umps called a very odd game on both sides. Head umpire Brian O'Nora's strike zone was enormous, and Carlos took advantage of it, forcing Brewers hitters into counts they weren't particularly fond of. Zambrano's only blemish was Ryan Braun's homerun. He ultimately left with runners on the corners with one out for Carlos Marmol. Question. Why isn't this kid the Cubs closer? Good God, he's got some nasty stuff. Marmol ends up walking Kendall to load the bases, and then proceeds to strike out Rickie Weeks with a slider in the dirt and Mike Cameron with a rocket right down the middle. Marmol would strike out two more in the 8th, only being blemished by Corey Hart's bunt single.
But it happened again. The Brewers have had a knack this season for stealing games, especially one run games. It felt like a bit of a repeat of opening day when Wood gave up three in the 9th to break a 0-0 tie, only to be followed by the Brewers closer giving up three right after. This time around Wood did the damage himself. On the first pitch of the inning, Wood drilled Craig Counsell with a 90 MPH fastball. Gabe Kapler got down quick but took advantage of a slider up and let the wind take it over Soriano's head to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with no one out. An infield single up the middle by Kendall scored Counsell and a walk by Weeks loaded the bases. After a Mike Cameron strikeout (Get used to those Brewers fans. He will hit triple digits even if he missed 25 games), Ryan Braun smoked a 96 MPH mistake fastball over the head of Fukudome who was playing in to try and prevent the single. The double scored two and gave the Brewers the lead 4-3.
The difference between this game and Opening Day, however, was Eric Gagne's performance. Yes he walked Ronny Cedeno to start the inning, but he came back strong, striking out Soto on a marginal pitch that got called all day and induced a double play from Felix Pie to get his 9th save this year.
(Note: O'Nora blew a huge call at home plate when Braun threw out Fukudome. Fukudome was well under the tag, but the ball beat him to the plate by three steps, and that's how umps are most of the time.)
Game Changing Play:
Ryan Braun's 2-run double.
And thank God they were. I actually started writing this thing before the game was done, praising my intelligence, but found myself bounding about my house when Wood loaded the bases with no one out. The Brewers end up stealing this one to win the series. Mike Cameron was a one night affair. He ends up going 0 for 8 with four Ks after destroying the ball on Tuesday. Weeks left much to be desired yet again, going 1 for 4 with a walk and some bad baserunning. Derek Lee was handled pretty easily this game, but was all over the place the last two games, so I'm probably 50-50 on series predictions all together
What's on Tap?:
The Brewers hopped a plane right after their celebration and are headed to Houston where Carlos Villanueva will take on Roy Oswalt. I doubt Villa backs down, but he better beware the powerful bats the Astros bring. Series Preview on the way.