And here we are again, back where we started.
The Brewers' playoff lives are in the hands of their hottest starting pitcher, and that's not a bad place for them to be. Yovani Gallardo (3.52 ERA, 3.59 FIP in 2011, 1.13 ERA, 2.78 FIP playoffs) returns to the mound at Miller Park for the first time since powering the Crew to a Game 1 victory on Saturday. He pitched eight innings in that game and allowed a run on four hits, walking one and striking out nine. The earned run was the first he's allowed in 15 career postseason innings.
If Saturday's start was any indication, expect to see a lot of sliders from Gallardo today. 29 of his 107 pitches in Game 1 (27%) were sliders, and he threw his four seam fastball just 47% of the time. His fastball has been his best pitch this season at +0.60 runs per 100.
Gallardo held the Diamondbacks to just four hits on Saturday, but Willie Bloomquist had two of them. One of the others was Ryan Roberts' solo home run. Four current Diamondbacks have seen Gallardo ten times or more:
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks also likely feel like they have their best pitcher on the mound: Ian Kennedy (2.88 ERA, 3.22 FIP in 2011, 5.40 ERA, 5.43 FIP playoffs) pitched 6.2 innings in his playoff debut on Saturday and allowed four runs on eight hits, walking one, hitting two batters and striking out three. He threw 111 pitches in the start.
Kennedy is in uncharted territory with 228.2 innings in 2011, but his velocity showed just a slight dip on Saturday: His average fastball clocked in at 89.6 mph, down from 90.3 for the regular season. He threw it a lot, though: 85 of his 111 pitches were either two or four seamers.
The Brewers had eight hits against Kennedy on Saturday, but five of them came from Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, and three of them went for extra bases. Fielder's seventh inning homer blew the game open and chased Kennedy from the mound. Four Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
The Game 1 lineup is back in full force today:
Corey Hart RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Jerry Hairston Jr 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Yovani Gallardo P
And in the bullpen:
Chris Narveson pitched 1.1 innings (31 pitches) Wednesday.
Marco Estrada pitched two innings (28 pitches) Wednesday.
Takashi Saito pitched one inning (21 pitches) Wednesday.
Kameron Loe pitched .2 innings (five pitches) Wednesday.
John Axford, LaTroy Hawkins and Francisco Rodriguez all pitched on Sunday.
The roof will be closed today, presumably to keep Milwaukee's beautiful day from interfering with the game.