It wasn’t like Ian Kennedy was that bad. He wasn’t superb, like most of 2011, finishing with a 21-4 record and 2.88 ERA. He wasn’t brilliant like his only start against the Milwaukee Brewers this season, shutting them down for 7 innings, allowing only 4 hits. Still, in comparison to the gem thrown by Yovani Gallardo, striking out nine in eight innings, yeah, the playoff opener for the Diamondbacks ace kinda sucked.
Eventually, how his performance will be perceived fell down on one play. The Prince Fielder home run in the 7th, making it 4-0 and ending Kennedy’s night. It was a bad call by manager Kirk Gibson, something he acknowledged – I left Kennedy in and that was a bad decision on my part.
With Fielder having a 1.046 OPS against Right Handed pitchers and extremely dangerous at home, in Miller Park, there’s no reason not to walk him. There’s a reason he was intentionally walked 32 times this season. Kennedy and the Diamonbacks just stepped into a trap which ended their afternoon.
Gallardo was the big surprise. Or maybe not. Zach Greinke was probably the pitcher most expected to start game 1. After all, he did lead the NL in strikeout rate and was 9-3 in the second half of the season. But form, recent form, speaks volumes, especially with no stoppage time between the regular season and the playoffs. Gallardo struck out 36 hitters in his last three starts. You don’t mess with someone that hot.
Gallardo lived up to the promise, putting his 2008 postseason loss behind him. He retired 14 of 15 batters at some point until the sixth inning, giving up only four hits before John Axford scored the game. And it doesn’t get any better for the Diamondbacks – Zach Greinke starts next, and he’s 11-0 in 15 home starts this season. The Brewers are 15-0 when he starts at home. Daniel Hudson? He’s 0-3 in his last three starts. He gave up 6 six runs in four innings during his only face off with the Brewers this year.