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Extra-Inning Heroics Lead Milwaukee to first Opening Day Victory since 2008

(Photo: EspnMilwaukee.com)

W: Jim Henderson (1-0)

L: Adam Ottavino (0-1)

The long and painful offseason for the Milwaukee Brewers finally came to a close this afternoon as they started their 2013 campaign by taking on the Colorado Rockies. Despite the fact that the temperature was near freezing in the streets of Milwaukee, the 45,781 fans in attendance witnessed a solid 10 innings of baseball that was capped off by a walk-off sac fly from Jonathan Lucroy to give Milwaukee the 5-4 victory.

Yovani Gallardo stepped on the mound for his 4th-consecutive opening day start and struggled from the opening batter. The Rockies do feature a very deep and tough lineup but it still was painful to watch Gallardo allow multiple Colorado batters to get on base during each inning. Gallardo finished the afternoon allowing only three runs on 10 hits during the five innings he was on the mound. While it’s a bit concerning to see Yovani struggle, he’s always been a slow starter so I would not be losing my sleep over his performance.

While Yovani struggled on the mound, Colorado’s ace Jhoulys Chacin looked unstoppable in the 6.2 innings he pitched besides giving up a 3rd-inning home run to Norichika Aoki.  After that home run, Chacin went through the next three innings without giving up a hit until the single by Rickie Weeks, in the 6th inning, who was thrown out after trying to stretch it to a double.

When Chacin exited the 7th inning he left the Rockies with a 3-1 which was held until the 8th (I’ll talk about that later). The newly rebuilt Brewers bullpen definitely held the fort for Milwaukee, keeping that lead at only two runs while they waited the Brewers offense to make a comeback. Newly acquired pitchers Alfredo Figaro and Burke Badenhop looked fantastic in their new gigs as they combined to pitch three scoreless innings.

The bottom of the 8th inning was the turning point of the game as the main core of Milwaukee’s lineup took care of reliever Wilton Lopez by avoiding the deep shot and playing small ball by laying a few singles and doubles. Braun tied the game on an infield single which lead into a clutch double by Ramirez which scored two runners and helped give Milwaukee a 4-3 lead.

A Brewers victory appeared to be etched in stone in the 9th inning with John Axford striking out the first two batters in the top of the inning. A game-tying shot from Dexter Fowler caused the game to go into the 10th until the eventual game-winning sac fly by Lucroy.

Milwaukee will be looking forward to winning their first series of the season tomorrow night at 7:05 CT when Marco Estrada takes on former Brewers farm hand Jorge De La Rosa.