Tony Gwynn Jr. wasn't exactly as spectacular as the opposition's rookie outfielder in his Opening Day debut, but in the end Gwynn got the last laugh.
A half inning after the Brewers managed to break open a scoreless game with three runs off new Cubs' closer Kerry Wood, Gagne matched the effort. With a save opportunity in his first game as a Brewer, Gagne allowed a single to Derrek Lee to lead off, then walked Aramis Ramirez before rookie import Kosuke Fukudome sent a Gagne pitch into the Wrigley bleachers.
Gwynn's performance trumped the outstanding debut of Fukudome, who went 3-for-3 that included the three-run shot.
Ben Sheets and Carlos Zambrano both opened their seasons with sparkling performances despite weathering two 40-minute plus rain delays, keeping opposing offenses from getting anything started. Sheets went 6 1/3 innings, giving up only two hits -- both to Fukudome -- while striking out seven. Zambrano was nearly just as flawless, pitching 6 2/3 innings, allowing three hits while striking out five until being forced to leave the game with a cramp in his throwing hand.
But the Brewers offense finally clicked in the ninth after Wood hit Rickie Weeks with a pitch to lead off the inning. Then on his first clutch play of the day, Gwynn laid down a sacrifice bunt despite being down 0-2 in the count. After an intentional walk to Prince Fielder, reigning Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun singled Weeks home. Corey Hart followed two batters later with a two-run double.
David Riske pitched a perfect 10th for his 21st career save.
Now, I don't want to admit that after just one game I was already second guessing my defense of the Milwaukee Brewers' signing of Eric Gagne, but there it is. I wasn't the only one, though. This was a text message that I received from a friend of mine: "We payed $10 million for THAT?!"
Luckily for Gagne, Gwynn is a stud, whether anyone else realizes it but me. Gwynn's first Opening Day start included an infield single and a stolen base in the first, the 0-2 bunt, the sac fly, and a sliding catch that ended the game. Thanks, Tony, Sr. for passing on good genes.
Aside from Gagne, the Brewers shiny new bullpen was nearly flawless. A walk given up by offseason signing Salomon Torres was the only blemish on the 2 2/3 innings put in by himself, Riske and fellow offseason acquisition Guillermo Mota.
- The Brewers are now 5-1 in Sheets' six Opening Day starts. Sheets himself is 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in season openers.
- The game was delayed 41 minutes before the opening pitch. Another line of showers delayed the game another 49 minutes in the middle of the third.
- Gagne had never blown a save of three runs before in his career and left the park without speaking to the press.
- Quote: "All the games in September are magnified, and those are the games that people pay attention to, but a win now is no different from a win then." -Ryan Braun