The first two games played between the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers this season have flirted with pitching perfection.
On Saturday, Milwaukee pitcher Yovani Gallardo gave up one hit in eight innings during a 4-0 victory over St. Louis on Saturday at Busch Stadium. The performance followed St. Louis pitcher Jaime Garcia's two-hit complete game Friday in which he made each Brewers hitter take a seat through seven innings.
Yes, Gallardo carried a no-hitter through seven innings Saturday. No, he didn't look as dominating as Garcia in doing so.
Different personalities. Same result. Like Garcia, Gallardo finished a winner.
"If a pitcher tells you they're not thinking about (a no-hitter), it's not true," Gallardo said. "I was definitely thinking about it. It would have been great to achieve that."
Gallardo's achievement Saturday was a reminder of his potential. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said the 25-year-old pitcher's command against the Cardinals was similar to the ability shown in spring training and earlier this season.
Gallardo surrendered two runs against the Cincinnati Reds and shutout the Atlanta Braves in his first two starts of 2011.
But since then, his last five outings have resembled a three-ring circus.
He gave up four runs twice. The Washington Nationals tagged him for a season-high seven runs on April 17. He gave up six runs to the Cincinnati Reds on April 27 and five runs to the Atlanta Braves last Monday.
So where did Saturday come from?
"He was throwing strikes," Milwaukee catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "He was getting ahead. His stuff was just nasty. It was nasty."
And for the first time in more than a month, one of Gallardo's starts wasn't.
That doesn't mean Gallardo was perfect. He walked four batters, and Lucroy had a few chats with the pitcher near the mound in the fifth and sixth innings when Gallardo fumbled with command. Skilled play in the outfield bailed the Brewers out of some binds as well.
"You definitely feel a lot more confident when you have guys out there behind you who are giving 100 percent," Gallardo said. "They are working as a team. That's huge for us."
The sequence was part of a strange replay feel that lingered at Busch Stadium late in the afternoon. Garcia's perfect game and no-hit try Friday ended in the eighth inning as well.
The same fans who gave Garcia a standing ovation Friday roared again when Descalso reached base.
"I was really … hoping we would get to pull it out," Lucroy said of the potential no-hitter. "It would be good for our team and our morale, but I'll take a win any day. This is just as good. A no-hitter or perfect game would have been great, but a win – that is what is really important here."
Another day brought another tease with pitching perfection.
Yes, Gallardo's no-hit bid wasn't as dominating as Garcia's. No, it didn't matter.
Different personalities. Same result.
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