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News » Becoming an anchor man &t 2009-05-10

Becoming an anchor man &t 2009-05-10

Becoming an anchor man &t 2009-05-10
When CC Sabathia got an offer he couldn't refuse and decided to take his wares to the New York Yankees in the off-season, finding someone to take the top spot in the rotation became the Milwaukee Brewers' biggest worry.

After being acquired in early July last season, Sabathia practically put the Brewers on his back and helped the Brewers return to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years.

Replacing a top starter is as tough a task as a general manager can have.

But the Brewers had an ace in waiting.

Yovani Gallardo didn't quite get to that "quality start" plateau of six innings pitched allowing three or fewer earned runs in the Brewers' 12-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park on Saturday night. But after seven starts there is little doubt Gallardo has comfortably slipped into the role of staff ace.

Pitch count limited Gallardo to just five innings against the Cubs, but in allowing just two runs on five hits he was still good enough to claim his fourth victory in five decisions.

"He's pitched good the whole year," Brewers manager Ken Macha said.

Gallardo's one loss this season came as a result of the only bad inning he's had - a six-run third against Cincinnati on April 13 in which he retired the first two batters but then gave up six runs on three walks, a single, a hit batter and a grand slam.

"He had a 4-1 lead and he lost it a little bit and walked a few people," Macha said.

With Gallardo and Dave Bush leading the way with five quality starts each, the Brewers entered Saturday night with the most quality starts in the majors with 18.

"I think there are several things that come into play as far as that's concerned," Macha said. "(Pitching coach) Billy Castro has done a great job with these guys. I think our preparation is pretty intense.

"We've got Brad Fischer, (bullpen coach) Stan Kyles and myself and Billy Castro just working as hard as we can to get information to Jason (Kendall) so he's got a good idea how to pitch those guys."

Gallardo threw 21 pitches in the first inning Saturday despite allowing just one walk, then wiggled his way out of a jam of first and third with nobody out in the second inning.

Micah Hoffpauir led off with a double and moved to third on Geovany Soto's infield single.

Gallardo buckled down from there, striking out Mike Fontenot looking and Bobby Scales swinging before getting pitcher Ryan Dempster on a fly to center.

He pitched around two walks in the third and a double and a walk in the fourth but was at 88 pitches already.

Gallardo finally seemed ready to cruise in the fifth, needing just five pitches to retire the first two hitters. But Milton Bradley blooped in a single to short right, and Hoffpauir ripped the next pitch for his third homer of the year to pull the Cubs within 3-2.

Gallardo was done after five innings and 105 pitches, but even without his best command he kept the Brewers not only in the game but ahead from the first inning on.

Gallardo did not get a decision in a 1-0 Brewers loss in New York on April 18, pitching six scoreless innings, but he put himself on the winning end of the same score April 29, providing the run himself with his second home run of the season.

At just 23 years old, Gallardo has shown composure of a veteran many years his senior.

"His intensity level gets really high when he's out there on the mound. . . and when he's hitting," Macha said. "He's got a way of controlling and using his emotions to his advantage as compared to having them interfere with his performance."

Macha previously managed in Oakland, where the Athletics developed a brood of strong young starters. Macha said Gallardo compares just fine with them.

"He's right there with them, and that's good company to be in," Macha said.

Simply put, Gallardo doesn't get rattled.

"Well, he had a couple of games in spring training where he wasn't getting the pitches, and that kind of led to long innings," Macha said. "His composure has been very good."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 10, 2009

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