MILWAUKEE — When Yovani Gallardo walked off of the field at Miller Park to a standing ovation on Sunday afternoon, he had no idea that he’d just thrown the most strikeouts (14) in a single game in his career.
Gallardo didn’t actually learn of his career effort until one of the Brewers’ other starters told him so in the clubhouse after the game. For a team that has become one of the best strikeout clubs in the majors, it was just another swing-and-miss extravaganza, as the Brewers took the series from the first-place Pirates, winning 4-1 on Sunday.
“It’s amazing when you look up there on the board and see how many,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “That’s a lot of strikeouts, and our guys have enough stuff where they can do that. When they’re commanding the ball, those numbers will always be there.”
Gallardo’s 14 strikeouts are the most by a Brewers pitcher this season. But the team has had similar double-digit strikeout outings — through a little more than half of the season, the Brewers have seven games of 10 strikeouts or more.
And it hasn’t just been flash-in-the-pan strikeout numbers either. With two pitchers known for their strikeout abilities — Gallardo and ace Zack Greinke — and another two breakout pitchers wowing the organization with strikeouts — Michael Fiers and Marco Estrada — the Brewers have struck out more batters than any other team in baseball, 774 total in 88 games.
That kind of strikeout pace is not only the best in the majors, but it’s also the best pace in franchise history. The club’s single-season strikeout record as a team is 1,174 strikeouts in 2007. But if the Brewers were to continue this year’s pace — which almost reaches nine punchouts per game — Milwaukee would exceed that record total by almost 300 strikeouts.
“We’ve got some pitchers who are strikeout guys,” Roenicke said.
And this past weekend against the Pirates, the Brewers punchout prowess was at its most impressive level yet. Milwaukee struck out 44 batters in 27 innings against the Pirates, and on Sunday, Gallardo struck out every batter in Pittsburgh’s lineup save one — Andrew McCutchen.
His performance also came on the heels of Estrada’s 11-strikeout effort during a loss on Saturday. The two combined Saturday and Sunday for the most prolific two-game stretch, strikeout-wise, of the entire season. And in one of the most important series of the season, the strikeouts came precisely when the Brewers needed them most.
“It’s big,” Gallardo said. “It’s very important. For us, we have to go out there and get the job done, especially knowing that these are very important games.”