The lead-up to Game 1 of the NLCS between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals created the feel of a genuine rivalry.
The normally quiet Brewers Zack Greinke called Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter a phony for yelling at hitters on the mound. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa retorted that it was a bad comment to make.
And so, the wheels were in motion. Game 1 did not disappoint. The Brewers mounted a charge in the latter half of the game to capture a 9-6 victory and take the first game. Game 2 is Monday at 8:05 p.m. in Milwaukee.
Here's what you can take away from Game 1:
1. Yikes, Tony La Russa.
Oh, sure, it's easy to second guess. But it was obvious from the viewer's position that Cardinals starter Jamie Garcia was lumbering along in the fifth inning with a 5-2 lead.
Two hard-hit balls gave the Brewers runners on second and third with nobody out. Ryan Braun followed with a two-run double. Prince Fielder drove in Braun with a two-run home run. And like that, the Brewers had the lead.
By the time La Russa made the move to Octavio Dotel in the bullpen, it was already too late. The Brewers scored six runs in the fifth and never looked back.
La Russa said after the game he didn't think about taking Garcia out before he faced Braun, saying he made one mistake. But Garcia was clearly laboring throughout much of his start.
2. Zack Greinke didn't really back up that talk.
At least the Brewers got the win in a game in which their ace pitched. But Greinke got the win in spite of his performance.
He gave up six earned runs on eight hits in six innings. Add that to a five-inning, eight-hit, four-earned run performance in the ALDS against the Diamondbacks, and you have a pitcher that is causing concern with his struggles.
Greinke almost certainly will get another chance to pitch in a Game 5 in this series. The Brewers hope that one - perhaps in a crucial game - will be better than his first two postseason starts.
3. The Cardinals are still in good shape.
This wasn't the game the Cardinals were looking to steal in Milwaukee, anyway. On Monday, they'll have Edwin Jackson.
Jackson beat the Phillies in the NLDS while throwing six innings and giving up just two runs against the once-vaunted Philadelphia lineup.
Meanwhile, the Brewers send out right-hander Shaun Marcum, who took a bad loss in the NLDS against the Diamondbacks. With Marcum sliding and Jackson riding high, this should be the game the Cardinals look to steal before the series shifts to St. Louis.