Gallardo an unlikely spark for reeling Brewers

by Tyler Lockman,

Yovani Gallardo’s bid for only the second no-hitter in Milwaukee Brewers history may have fallen short Saturday in St. Louis, but it was just the lift the team needed amid a disastrous road trip.

Having lost seven straight games and batted .157 in that skid, the Brewers were floundering and no one seemed to have any answers. It appeared unlikely that a starting pitcher with an 8.89 ERA over his previous five starts would produce the needed relief.

Maybe it was the pants hitched at the knees or maybe it was a mental breakthrough, but whatever it was, Gallardo got the job done and just may have pulled the Brewers out of a painful malaise.

“It’s huge to get ‘Yo’ back on track,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said after the game. “It’s huge, obviously, [for] this team to get a win after those losses.”

One win does not erase what has so far been a 2-7 trip away from Miller Park, but putting an end to the weeklong misery was a start to turning things around for a team that departed on the three-city jaunt with a .500 record.

As Roenicke noted, it was just as important to get the team’s Opening Day starter out of a funk that had Brewers players, coaches and fans scratching their heads more and more every fifth day. While still using the quickened delivery implemented in his last start, Gallardo just tried to keep it simple Saturday.

“You almost have to go back to the basics,” Gallardo said. “Just see the glove and throw the ball there. It’s as simple as that.”

It helped that the 25-year-old right hander got a few highlight reel plays from the defense behind him, but it was ultimately Gallardo’s ability to manipulate his pitches that held a powerful Cardinals lineup to just one hit in eight innings.

“I was able to throw my off-speed [pitches] for strikes both in and out of the zone and get some weak balls hit,” Gallardo said.

The flailing Brewers offense did not exactly bust its slump in the 4-0 win, as only one run had been scored behind Gallardo. Three hits and a sacrifice fly supplied the insurance runs in the ninth inning, but six hits in the previous eight innings had to be an encouraging change from the one-hit showings seen in two of past three games.

The dominating win, Gallardo’s first against the Cardinals, is undoubtedly a boost to his confidence, but what it does for the team will be seen over the next few days. The Brewers wrap up the series with the Cardinals on Sunday before returning to Milwaukee for a three-game set with the Padres the next day.

While it was nice to enjoy the team’s first win in over a week and Gallardo’s flirtation with history, the next challenge quickly became the focus. Energetic center fielder Carlos Gomez was already talking about it just moments after stepping off the field.

“This was a great ball game,” Gomez said. “Tomorrow is a new game and we’ll try to win again.”

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