Friday, April 5, 2013

Brewers Win On Opening Day | Axford Still Can't Find Comfort Zone

Brewers Opening Day 2013
The Brewers won their first opening day game since 2008 on Monday, edging-out the Rockies in extra innings in-front of a sellout crowd. Over 45,000 fans attended the game at Miller Park, the fifth most in stadium history, some forgoing work and school for the experience. Most stayed when Colorado's Dexter Fowler sent the game into the tenth inning with a tying solo-home run, overcoming an earlier Brewers offensive that put up three-runs in the eighth. Prior to that explosive inning, Ron Roenicke's team struggled. With just a handful of hits through the first seven, and only outfielder Norichika Aoki managing a run, Miller Park was quiet most of the day. Even Brewers ace starter Yovani Gallardo had trouble in his first outing of 2013, giving up ten hits and three runs. He left the game in the fifth, now with 0-2 record in four consecutive opening day starts.

Gallardo owned up to the damage he caused following the game, but told reporters that the important part was a victory. He says he will use the confidence from the win to prepare for his next start on Sunday against the Diamondbacks. The 27 year old Mexico native wasn't the only pitcher to succumb to nerves on the mound Monday, however. Storied closer John Axford also busted the team's momentum, giving up a late two-out home run to Fowler to spoil a one-run lead. He struck-out three other batters during his inning out, but was not happy with his performance in the dugout.

Brewers Surge In Eighth Inning

Neither were 2012's leading RBI-duo Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. The pair of Milwaukee sluggers fueled the eighth inning surge, putting a combined three runners through home. Ramirez took a seven pitch at-bat before knocking a floater down the left field line, just out of reach if the Rockies outfielder, allowing Braun time to round second and third for the go-ahead run. Fowler's answer just four batters later once again deflated the atmosphere inside Miller Park. The second-year righty Jim Henderson survived a scoreless top-of-the-tenth at-bat from Colorado, however, setting up a fresh Brewers lineup for a chance at the win.

Adam Ottavino faced Aoki for his first turn out of the bullpen in the bottom-of-the-tenth. Aoki struck-out swinging, but that would be Ottavino's only highlight of the day. He would hit second basemen Rickie Weeks in the leg with a wild-pitch, and then intentionally walk Braun after allowing Weeks to steal second. An unintentional walk of Ramirez loaded the bases with two-outs remaining, pitting Ottavino against Brewers catcher Johnathan Lucroy for an anti-climatic final at-bat. Taking a strike on the first pitch, Lucory took a stab at a slow slider that sailed off the end of his bat. Ready at third to make the sprint for home following the sacrifice fly, Weeks easily outran the long throw from Dexter in center field to put in the winning run.

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