A Tale of two games at Wrigley Field
The Milwaukee Brewers took round one of sixteen versus the Chicago Cubs this season with a 4-3, 10 inning victory on Monday afternoon. Newly acquired relief pitcher, Eric Gagne picked up the win for the Crew after blowing a three run lead for the Brewers in the bottom of the ninth. David Riske came on to work the tenth to save the game for Gagne.
Although the game ended with a flurry of runs, the afternoon started with the starting pitchers showing their dominance. After a 41 minute rain delay to start the game, both Ben Sheets and Carlos Zambrano looked to be in mid-season form when they took the mound. Sheets pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up only two hits while striking out seven and walking two. After reaching his pitch limit, Salomon Torres finished off the seventh inning. Guillermo Mota came on in the eighth and struck out two batters in his only inning of work.
Rickie Weeks scored the first run of the game in the ninth when he scored on a Ryan Braun single to center. Corey Hart then doubled to right which scored Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead.
Eric Gagne gave the entire lead back in the bottom of the ninth before recording an out. After a Derrek Lee single and Aramis Ramirez walk, Kosuke Fukudome endeared himself to Cubs' fans by taking a 3-1 Gagne fastball over the center field wall. Gagne composed himself enough to get the game to the 10th inning.
After a Craig Counsell lead off double, Rickie Weeks was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Tony Gwynn hit a sacrifice fly to center, driving in the winning run. David Riske worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to start the Brewers out on the right foot for the 2008 season.
A great game to start the season for sure. Two rain delays stopped the game from having a good flow but it didn't stop Ben Sheets from looking like the Sheeter of old. He had command of all his pitches today and would have gone longer in the game if not for having an early season pitch count limit. Three of the four newly acquired relievers looked great. Eric Gagne needs to figure out how to get ahead in the count or he won't be the closer for the entire season.
Tony Gwynn is showing that he has the tools to be an everyday center fielder. He had two hits, stole a base and knocked in the game winning run.
Rickie Weeks struck out twice but was still able to reach base two times with his hit-by-pitches. If he can keep his on-base percentage around .400, the Brewers will win a lot of games this season.
The big four of Fielder, Braun, Bill Hall and Corey Hart went a combined 4-17 with two runs and three RBI. I'll chalk up the bad batting average to Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Marmol being on their game today.
The team showed a ton of heart by rebounding after giving back the lead in the ninth. It was an entire team effort and hopefully the first of 90+ wins this season.
Tuesday is an off day but Wednesday will see Jeff Suppan square off against Ted Lilly at 1:20. A win on Wednesday would be big as Thursday's starter, Dave Bush, is notoriously horrible at Wrigley Field.