Facing Phillies not child's play for Bush
Right-handed Game 3 starter puts youthful allegiances aside
PHILADELPHIA -- Worlds will be colliding for Dave Bush in Game 3 of the NLDS on Saturday at Miller Park.
A graduate of Conestoga High School near Philadelphia, Bush was emotionally crushed when the Phillies lost the 1993 World Series to the Blue Jays. He had some personal links to that squad, as he was friends with Gavin Dykstra, the son of former Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra.
All those childhood memories and allegiances have now been put aside for the 28-year-old right-hander. On Saturday night, Bush will get the start for the Brewers in the first postseason game in Milwaukee in 26 years.
Suddenly, there is a sense of urgency for Bush in this start.
The Phillies frustrated the Brewers, 5-2, on Thursday night to take a two-game lead in the best-of-five series. Now with their backs to the wall, Milwaukee has to run off three straight or face elimination.
Bush aims to keep the Brewers' hopes alive.
Despite scoring four runs in the first two games, the Brewers are viewing their uphill climb as a doable challenge.
"It's only a three-game winning streak," left fielder Ryan Braun said. "We've had plenty of those this year. It's not going to be easy, obviously. They are a good team. They are playing good baseball. But it's only a three-game winning streak. It's certainly not impossible by any means."
In all, 13 times in the regular season the Brewers have strung together at least three consecutive wins.
The Brewers will look to Bush to get them back on the winning track. Saturday will be the right-hander's sixth start against the Phillies, and he has yet to be involved in a decision. In 33 2/3 innings, he has a 5.88 ERA while facing Philadelphia.
For Bush, this series represents a bridge from his past to his present.
As a kid, Bush rooted for the Phillies, although he didn't attend a playoff game in 1993. Now, in Game 3, the 6-foot-2, 207-pound right-hander will look to silence the Phillies' offense.
GAME 3: JUST THE FACTS
|Phillies starter: LHP Jamie Moyer|
|2008: 16-7, 3.71 ERA|
|2008 on road: 10-3, 2.92 ERA|
|2008 vs. Brewers: 1-0, 3.09 ERA|
|Career vs. Brewers: 9-5, 3.63 ERA|
|Career postseason: 3-1, 2.43 ERA|
|Brewers starter: RHP Dave Bush|
|2008: 9-10, 4.18 ERA|
|2008 at home: 6-4, 3.50 ERA|
|2008 vs. Phillies: 0-0, 5.25 ERA|
|Career vs. Phillies: 0-0, 5.88 ERA|
|Career postseason: 0-0, -.-- ERA (no appearances)|
|Phillies lead series, 2-0. Teams that have won the first two games of an NLDS are 16-0 in those series.|
|Game 2: Phillies 5, Brewers 2|
|Did You Know? Shane Victorino's grand slam in Game 2 was Philadelphia's first slam in postseason history.|
"I did not get to go to the playoffs, but I do remember being heartbroken at the end of the World Series, just disappointed with the way it ended," Bush said of the '93 series loss. "As for playing in Milwaukee, we're excited for it. It's going to be a lot of fun. There's going to be a lot of people there. It's something that they played the whole generation to be able to experience that, and I'm very pleased to be a part of it and be able to represent the team and the city, and hopefully do a good job with it."
The fact that Bush is such a prominent part of the Brewers now is a testament to his own resourcefulness. The season didn't exactly start off smoothly, as he was sent down to Triple-A Nashville after going 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in four April starts.
"He just worked on getting command of his fastball more," Brewers manager Dale Sveum said. "That's all it was with him. He was just leaving a lot of balls in the middle of the plate. And he worked on his sinker a little bit, and he got that going. I think that's a big key to his success, throwing his sinker."
Against a power-hitting team like the Phillies, with left-handed sluggers Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the ability to induce ground-ball outs is imperative for the Brewers.
Bush has been one of the club's most effective performers over the past two months. Over his last 18 appearances, he is 7-3 with a 3.23 ERA.
Overall, Bush is 9-10 with a 4.18 ERA heading into his first postseason appearance. This also will be his first start since Sept. 23 against Pittsburgh, when he wasn't involved in the decision. He did toss three scoreless innings of relief last Saturday against the Cubs.
Bush attributes much of his success to working with catcher Jason Kendall, whom he calls a "stabilizing presence" behind the plate.
"He puts a lot of effort into catching, calling a good game and throwing out runners," Bush said. "Sometimes in the past, I've had catchers that weren't necessarily as focused as I'd have liked them to be. But Jason is as prepared as we are as pitchers. He sits down and goes through scouting reports."
Bush also provides flexibility with his ability to pitch in relief, and one reason he wasn't announced as the Game 3 starter until Thursday is because he was an option to throw long relief on Wednesday.
Basically, Bush was an emergency reliever in case Yovani Gallardo, who started Game 1, got into early trouble. Gallardo has seen limited action this year due to surgeries to both knees, so Bush was an insurance policy.
|"I'm sure it's going to be exciting. A lot of energy will be around the park and all the people there. We're all looking forward to it. It's going to be fun to get back home and feel that energy."|
|-- Game 3 starter Dave Bush|
"Dave Bush is one of the most professional, hard-working guys you'll ever be around," Sveum said. "He fortunately does have a rubber arm, where he's never sore or anything like that, so he can bounce back.
"He can be used in the bullpen, especially in these kind of games, where if he starts Game 3, he's the type of guy who will be available for Game 4."
Bush has some added incentive because he will be throwing the first playoff pitch in the history of Miller Park.
"I'm sure it's going to be exciting," Bush said of the atmosphere in the retractable-roof stadium. "A lot of energy will be around the park and all the people there. We're all looking forward to it. It's going to be fun to get back home and feel that energy."
For most of the past few weeks, the Brewers have been backed to the wall, needing to rebound with big wins. They were up to the challenge, and claimed the NL Wild Card in the final game of the season.
"I see the Brewers, and I see a lot of young guys and they've got personalities," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "They smile and they have some life to them. And they've got some energy, and you can tell that they like to play."
Bush understands he has a tall order in trying to hold down a power-laden Phillies lineup.
"They have a very talented offensive lineup," Bush said. "There's no doubt about it. But we've played them just a few weeks ago, so we're definitely familiar with what they're putting out there."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.