10/06/11 3:15 AM ET
Brewers' playoff fate is tied to pitching
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
"There's been a lot of outings the first inning [Wolf] scuffled and turned around and really got us into the sixth, seventh inning," Roenicke said.That is true. But Wolf didn't have it early and he didn't get any better.
"Wolfie, when he gets in trouble, his location isn't there," Roenicke said. "He came out and his location was all over, getting behind in the count. But like I said, sometimes he gets a little off in the first inning and then will straighten it out and end up throwing a real nice ballgame."Not on this night. Ideally, Roenicke wanted to wait until Wolf's spot in the batting order came up so he could pinch-hit for him. This did not happen again until the fourth. Roenicke preferred not to simply use a reliever and then remove him almost immediately. That usually makes sense. But this is the NLDS. Sometimes you have to move beyond the usual mode of operation, particularly when you are one victory away from the NL Championship Series, in a 5-3 game that is still winnable. You saw a different managerial approach on the other side of the argument. Even with a lead, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, after watching Saunders give up three runs in the first three innings, did not hesitate in the third to lift him for a pinch-hitter, Collin Cowgill. Cowgill delivered a two-run single off Wolf for a 7-3 lead. Asked about this decision, Gibson responded: "It was easier because we had a chance to score runs. Didn't like the way Joe was throwing the ball; he was elevating, overthrowing. Didn't see any ground balls. And I had a feeling Milwaukee was not going to give in, which they didn't. We had an opportunity to score some runs, so I took it." Gibson had managed aggressively and was rewarded with a four-run lead. Roenicke had managed passively, or at the very best, conventionally, waiting for Wolf to turn his evening around. He was rewarded with a game that could only be won if the Arizona bullpen collapsed. There will still be one good chance for Milwaukee's starting pitching to salvage the series and continue the Brewers' postseason. Game 5 will be in the hands of the Brewers' best hope, Yovani Gallardo. He'll be in against a very tough customer, Ian Kennedy, but with Gallardo, in the biggest game of the year, at least the Brewers will be taking their very best shot.
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.