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.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.