Yovani Gallardo, Prince Fielder lead Brewers past Diamondbacks in Game 1 victory

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Yovani Gallardo ended the regular season as one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, allowing two runs or less in each of his last three starts while posting a ridiculous 36/3 K/BB ratio over 20 1/3 innings. He was equally brilliant this afternoon in Milwaukee, tossing eight innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the NLDS.

Taking advantage of the shadows of the Miller Park roof, Gallardo allowed just four hits on the afternoon while striking out nine and walking just one. The only run scored on a solo home run by Ryan Roberts to lead off the top of the eighth inning. The 25-year-old right-hander finished strong, though, striking out the final three batters he faced. John Axford tossed a perfect top of the ninth for the save.

Ian Kennedy allowed four runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings in the loss. He also hit two batters. However, his line likely would have looked a lot better if it wasn’t for two curious decisions by Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson.

Gibson elected to pitch to catcher Jonathan Lucroy with two outs and a runner at third in the bottom of the sixth, despite the pitcher being on deck. Granted, Gallardo is actually a pretty decent hitter, but Lucroy delivered an RBI single to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead. Perhaps more egregious was pitching to Prince Fielder in the seventh with first base open following a two-out double by Ryan Braun. Fielder cashed in with a two-run blast over the right field fence, giving the Brewers some valuable insurance runs.

The Brewers will try to keep the pressure on tomorrow when they send Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA) to the hill against Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49 ERA). Greinke will be pitching on short rest for the second straight start, but if Ron Roenicke’s crew can leave home with two victories, they should be in very good shape in this series.

Notes:

– I criticized Willie Bloomquist as the leadoff hitter in the live blog, but he had two of the Diamondbacks’ four hits on the afternoon. What do I know, anyway?

– Gallardo got off to a bit of a shaky start in the top of the first, but he was bailed out when Bloomquist was cut down at home plate on a throw by Ryan Braun.

– Lyle Overbay went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the loss. I’m pretty sure we’ll see rookie Paul Goldschmidt at first base for Game 2 against Zack Greinke.

– Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder combined for five of the Brewers’ eight hits on the day.

– Gallardo’s nine strikeouts tied him with Don Sutton (1982) for the franchise record for strikeouts in a postseason game.

Madison Bumgarner began his rehab assignment yesterday

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Giants ace Madison Bumgarner tossed three no-hit innings yesterday in his first minor league rehab start with the Giants’ Arizona Rookie League team. He struck out two and walked a guy, while sitting in the 88-91 m.p.h. range on his fastball.

Bumgarner, who is coming back from a sprained left AC joint in his shoulder suffered in a dirt bike accident in April, will return to San Francisco to throw a bullpen session and then go back on the road for more rehab games. That’s a lot of traveling, but the Giants obviously want to monitor his progress. At the moment he’s expected to build up his strength for the next several weeks and, hopefully, return to the Giants’ rotation some time after the All-Star break.

Of course, there shouldn’t be too much of a rush. The Giants have lost five in a row and 12 of 13 and currently sit in last place, 24.5 games behind the Dodgers. At this point Bumgarner rushing to rejoin the Giants is like an Australian soldier getting a wound dressed to hurry back to the Gallipoli Campaign.

Is it really that weird that Cody Bellinger does not know who Jerry Seinfeld is?

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Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger has been tearing through the league so far this season, blazing a 50-home run pace despite not even making his debut until April 25. His Dodgers are winners of 10 games in a row, sit in first place and have the best record in the National League.

But not everything is rosy in Cody Bellinger land. He’s now at the center of controversy after he revealed on SportsCenter on Friday night that he doesn’t know who Jerry Seinfeld is. Or, at the very least, that he could not put a face with that familiar-sounding name and that in no event did he know why he was famous.

People have been going crazy with this, acting as if he’s from Mars or something for not knowing who starred in one of history’s most popular and influential sitcoms. His teammates, especially, have been getting on his case:

I dunno. On the one hand, sure, the show was amazingly popular and has been in heavy syndication for like 20 years so it would be hard to miss even for a young guy like Bellinger. And, of course, the catchphrases and bits of the show that has seeped into the popular culture have given it a longer shelf life than most TV shows ever manage.

On the other hand the thing ended when he was not yet three years old. For him, “Seinfeld” was like “The Beverly Hillbillies” for someone my age or “M*A*S*H” for someone born in the early 80s. Those shows were just as popular — actually, they got higher ratings and were seen by a larger percentage of the population than “Seinfeld” ever was — and they were just as heavily syndicated for the decade or two after they went off the air. We don’t get on the case of players born in the 70s or 80s for not knowing who Alan Alda or Buddy Ebsen are. And if it’s about the catchphrases, substitute in “Happy Days” and “Welcome Back Kotter,” each of which created a cultural footprint larger than the show itself. Would we freak out if we found out that Jayson Werth — born in 1979 — had never heard the phrase “Up your nose with a rubber hose” or “Sit on it?”

And that’s before you acknowledge how much more fragmented pop culture and entertainment is now. I was 12 in 1985 and back then I had little choice but to watch “M*A*S*H” reruns at 7pm while I was waiting for prime time. It was either that or “Wheel of Fortune” I guess. As a 12-year old in 2007, Bellinger could’ve easily avoided “Seinfeld” reruns. He could’ve avoided TV altogether and just been online. My son is 12 now and he hasn’t watched an actual TV show in years. It’s all You Tube and stuff. The idea that there is any one thing or even a handful of things that, culturally speaking, we can all agree upon or which can serve as a common touchstone is an increasingly obsolete idea.

Maybe “Seinfeld” is different. Maybe this is not the same as not knowing “The Beverly Hillbillies” or “M*A*S*H”. I floated this whole idea on Twitter yesterday and people were outraged, so perhaps something else is going on here that I’m missing. But personally speaking, I feel like we should all calm down a bit about Cody Bellinger and the “Seinfeld” thing. Maybe we should acknowledge that the stuff we like is not going to be culturally prevalent forever. And that young kids like Cody Bellinger are going to be the ones to inform us of this inescapable fact.