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Rattlers' Gagnon shines at Miller Park

Brewers prospect blanks Dragons, extends scoreless streak
April 28, 2012
Drew Gagnon took the hill at Miller Park for the first time in his professional career Friday. But if he keeps pitching as he has been, he could be back at the Brewers' home ballpark before too long.

Milwaukee's 2011 third-round Draft pick allowed four hits and a walk over a career-high eight innings Friday as the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers blanked the Dayton Dragons, 3-0.

Gagnon (2-0) extended his scoreless streak to 19 2/3 innings and dropped his ERA to a Midwest League-leading 0.64.

The former Long Beach State star began his night by issuing a leadoff walk to Theo Bowe, who stole second. But he followed that with a streak of nine consecutive outs.

Gagnon's most difficult inning may have been the fourth when Juan Perez opened the frame with a double and Sean Buckley was hit by a pitch two batters later. But the 21-year-old right-hander got Juan Silva to hit a comebacker that turned into a double play. He allowed only three baserunners over his final four innings.

"I had everything in my toolbox today," Gagnon said. "The first inning was a little shaky, but after the second, I felt like everything was going for me. I told my catcher, 'I'm feeling pretty good about this. Let's keep battling.' And from then on, it worked really well. Fastball, curveball, changeup, everything was working."

The outing easily was the longest of Gagnon's brief professional career -- he went six innings on April 22. He needed only 87 pitches, throwing 62 for strikes, a figure that surprised even him after the game.

Although the California native felt could have gone the distance, he admited that certain circumstances may have prevented him from taking the mound for the ninth.

"I was definitely feeling good enough to go back out, but it is early in the year. They've got us all on pitch counts, and I understand that," he said. "Plus, it's Miller Park. You want to give the other guys to get a chance to pitch here."

Miller Park actually was the fourth Major League stadium in which Gagnon has pitched following Fenway Park (Cape Cod League All-Star Game), AT&T Park (as a junior at Long Beach State) and Dodger Stadium (high school). He said his biggest thrill was pitching at Fenway because of the century-old park's history, but Miller Park brought its own excitement.

"It was my first time pitching in a park like this," Gagnon said. "Pitching in a dome was certainly interesting, but it was definitely a cool experience. Hopefully, it's a preview of what's going to happen here down the line."

For Gagnon to achieve the ultimate goal of all Brewers prospects, he knows he'll have to continue to put together more stretches like his current one.

"I've got to let my defense make the plays," he said. "The outfield has come up big in helping me do what I've been doing. But personally, I've got my routine. I've got to keep getting after it and, like always, go out on the mound like it'll be the last time I step out there."

Max Walla hit a three-run homer in the first inning to provide Gagnon and the Timber Rattlers with all the offense they needed. It was his second homer at Miller Park following one he slugged at the Brewers' Rising Stars Game on April 2, 2011.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to