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.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.