The Miller Park crowd showered St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa with boos during pregame introductions, Milwaukee Brewers starter Zack Greinke(notes) heard some comments from the Cardinals’ bench for some unflattering remarks about Chris Carpenter and the umpire issued a first-inning warning to both clubs.
But with all the talking that happened in Game 1 of the NL championship series, it was the Brewers’ bats that made the loudest statement in this matchup of bitter Central Division rivals.
Milwaukee looks to remain perfect at home in this season’s playoffs Monday night when it faces a Cardinals team trying to win its second Game 2 on the road this postseason.
Meeting for the 19th time this season, and first in the playoffs since the Cardinals won the 1982 World Series in seven games, the Brewers won 9-6 on Sunday to improve to 4-0 at Miller Park this postseason.
Down by three, Milwaukee rallied with a six-run fifth inning highlighted by Ryan Braun’s(notes) two-run double and two-run shots by Prince Fielder(notes) and Yuniesky Betancourt(notes) that gave the Central champs a franchise playoff record three home runs.
Yet unlike the last time these clubs met, a 2-0 Cardinals home win Sept. 7 when the benches briefly cleared after Carpenter - whom Greinke said a lot of his Brewers teammates disliked - struck out Nyjer Morgan(notes), there were no on-field confrontations in Game 1.
“I don’t want our players and their players to be egged on, and I don’t think they will,” La Russa said. “We’re going to play as hard and good against each other as we can.”
The Cardinals have received a huge lift from third baseman David Freese(notes) after he hit a three-run shot Sunday - his second homer of the postseason - but there hasn’t been much production from the club’s other corner infielder, Albert Pujols(notes).
The three-time MVP is batting .333 (8 for 24) in the postseason, but he has driven in just one run in those six games. Pujols grounded into a double play in the seventh inning Sunday with the Cardinals down by three with runners on the corners and no outs.
“I had a good pitch to hit, man. I just missed it,” he said. “You throw me that pitch, I bet you seven out of 10 times you throw that, I put it in the seats. It is what it is. It’s baseball. You’re going to get opportunities and, hopefully, I come through.”
St. Louis did just that in Game 2 of the division series, winning 5-4 in Philadelphia after losing its playoff opener.
Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum(notes) will try to find his stuff in Game 2 after walking three and surrendering seven runs in 4 2-3 innings of his first career postseason appearance, an 8-1 loss at Arizona on Tuesday in Game 3 of the division series.
It would seem like returning home, where the Brewers went a major league-best 57-24 this season, would be to Marcum’s advantage, but he is 0-3 with a 5.84 ERA in his last six starts there.
“It’s just one of those things, like I said before, you go through stretches and go through years where you have better road numbers, and not so good home numbers,” Marcum said.
Monday’s scheduled starter Edwin Jackson(notes) had solid numbers in his first career playoff start - four strikeouts and five hits allowed in six innings of Wednesday’s 5-3 Game 4 victory over the Phillies.
The right-hander was tagged for 10 runs - eight earned - and a career high-tying 14 hits in a 10-5 loss at Miller Park on Aug. 3 in his third start with the club following a midseason trade, but he went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his next two starts in this matchup.
Braun is just 2 for 10 off Jackson in 2011, but the MVP candidate is batting .667 (10 for 15) with four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs at home this postseason.