With their ace’s health again in question, the Milwaukee Brewers appear ready to send out one of their bright young pitching stars for the first time this year.
Though he wasn’t called up until May 18 last season, Gallardo was 9-5 with a 3.67 ERA with 101 strikeouts and only eight homers allowed in 110 1-3 innings. The right-hander, who began 2008 on the 15-day disabled list with torn knee cartilage, was 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA in his three rehab starts, but Brewers manager Ned Yost seemed pleased with the results.
“He threw the ball OK and he’s ready to go,” Yost said Tuesday after Gallardo’s most recent appearance.
Gallardo picked up his first career road win against the Reds on July 24, allowing a run and six hits over 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 victory. Overall, Gallardo was 4-2 with a 4.47 ERA in nine road starts, and his nine total victories ranked him fourth among rookies.
His return also couldn’t be better scheduled. Before Saturday’s 5-3 win in 10 innings, the Brewers said they weren’t sure if ace Ben Sheets would miss a start due to tightness in his right triceps.
The oft-injured Sheets - 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA this year - left after throwing only 60 pitches over five innings in Friday’s 5-2 victory. He’s been placed on the disabled list five times since 2005 with back, shoulder and finger injuries.
“We’re trying to be extra careful,” Yost told Milwaukee’s official Web site. “Tightness is a precursor to an injury if it persists.”
On Saturday, Bill Hall’s two-run double in the 10th lifted the Brewers (11-6) to their third straight win and put them in position for their first three-game sweep in Cincinnati since Aug. 17-19, 2001.
Hall has long been a nemesis to the Reds, batting .313 in his career against them.
“I just feel comfortable when I come here to play,” said Hall, who has eight career homers in Cincinnati. “I know I’ve had success here, so that puts an ease to my mind. I always seem to do something when I come here - when I play against them in general, actually.”
Hall has had the most success against Cincinnati’s Aaron Harang (1-2, 3.33), who will make his second start against Milwaukee this month. The Brewers’ third baseman is hitting .390 (16-for-41) with three homers and nine RBIs against the right-hander.
Harang earned his only win of 2008 after limiting the Brewers to a run and five hits over five innings of a 4-1 victory on April 10. Facing the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, though, he was tagged for five runs and eight hits - including two homers - over six innings of a 9-5 loss.
The 6-foot-7, 275-pound Harang was battling a cold and a game-time temperature of 54 degrees in Chicago with a stiff breeze.
“It was tough to get loose. It was one of those days where you go out there and you just don’t have it,” Harang said. “You get out there and it’s cold, your nose gets running.”
Harang is 1-2 with a 5.07 ERA in eight career starts against the Brewers at Great American Ball Park, but has failed to get a decision in his last four outings despite giving up just eight runs in 28 2-3 innings.
Rookie Joey Votto’s two-run homer in the eighth on Saturday tied the score at 3, but the Reds (7-11) lost for the seventh time in eight games.