The Milwaukee Brewers have made it clear to the contending teams in the National League Central: They aren’t going to lie down.
Led by yet another strong start from Yovani Gallardo, the Brewers wrapped up their six-game road trip against division contenders with a 4-0 win over the Pirates. Following a series win in Cincinnati, Milwaukee won two-of-three in Pittsburgh.
“We’re obviously pretty far out, so really we are playing just to show people that we are actually a good team — that our record really doesn’t show how good we are,” Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett said. “We played one of the best teams in baseball in Cincinnati and then here in the Pirates. We’re showing what we got. We’re down a few key guys and we are still in ballgames. We’re going to try and ruin some ERA’s and ruin some seasons late in the year.”
The most encouraging part of Thursday’s victory was the performance of Gallardo, who tossed seven scoreless innings and struck out five to lower his season ERA to 4.39. In three starts since coming off the disabled list, Gallardo improved to 2-0 with a 0.93 ERA in 19 2/3 innings.
“That doesn’t surprise me,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “It’s nice that he has his good command (after) sitting out 17 days. But that’s not that long of a time. It wasn’t his arm; it was the hamstring, so really it doesn’t surprise me.
I’m glad that with a little bit of rest that he’s fresher. I think his pitches are more crisp and along with that, the command seems to be better.”
Gallardo’s command certainly has been sharper since returning from a hamstring injury that landed him on the disabled list on July 31. The time off seems to have helped the veteran right-hander return to form, as he’s walked just five and allowed just two runs in his last three starts.
One of Milwaukee’s primary goals down the stretch is to get Gallardo back to the pitcher he’s been over the past five seasons, making his performance his last three starts a big deal. Thursday’s victory gave Gallardo his 10th win of the season, the fifth straight season he’s reached double-digit victories.
“When your number one guy isn’t pitching the way he’s used to pitching, there’s always a concern,” Roenicke said. “I think it’s huge. I think him coming back and throwing the ball and finishing out the way we know he can pitch is huge for all of us, him included.”