Diamondbacks Beat Brewers 8-1 In Game 3, Stay Alive

Rookie Paul Goldschmidt hit a grand slam and rookie Josh Collmenter pitched seven strong innings to power the Diamondbacks past the Brewers, 8-1 in Game 3 of their Division Series.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers, Game 3: Highlights From The Live Blog

The Brewers took the first two games of their best-of-five NLDS matchup with the Diamondbacks, but a series sweep was not meant to be. Arizona relied upon a pair of rookies, starting pitcher Josh Collmenter and first basemen Paul Goldschmidt, to keep their hopes alive for at least one more game, winning 8-1. 

While the Diamondbacks were busy swatting away Milwaukee's brooms, Baseball Nation's writers were analyzing the action. Here are the highlights from the live blog:

• Pitching in the big leagues is hard, right? Of course it is. And yet somehow, Collmenter has actually improved on his minor league numbers since arriving, which Grant Brisbee found a bit odd: 

Collmenter wasn't a heralded prospect before the season started -- he couldn't even crack Baseball America's list of the 30 best Diamondbacks prospects -- but he came up and threw strike after strike. His career BB/9 in the minors is 3.1. In the majors he lopped off more than a walk per nine innings.

That control put him in some rare company. There aren't a lot of rookies in baseball history who came up and threw more than 150 innings without walking more than two batters per nine innings. But though it's rare company ... it's also oddly nondescript company.

So who's on that list? You have to click through to find out!

Willie Bloomquist, of all people, got things started for the D'Backs. From Brisbee:

In the bottom of the first inning, Willie Bloomquist got a single. Then he stole second base. This is because Willie Bloomquist is Tim Raines now. The Brewers had a detailed plan on how to pitch to Bloomquist, but an intern lost the index card.

Bloomquist scored on a Miguel Montero double to deep center that Nyjer Morgan couldn't haul in, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Rookie Paul Goldschmidt singled to the opposite field to score Montero, who beat Corey Hart's throw even though he was running on a pair of catcher's legs.

The funny thing is that Bloomquist was actually out, had the umpire made the right call. (If you own a TV, I'm sure you've seen the replay.) Either way, Arizona took advantage, scoring first. 

• Have you ever wondered why Detroit's Comerica Park and Arizona's Chase Field have that little dirt path between the pitcher's mound and home plate? Rob Neyer explains

• Slow and steady wins the race. Or something like that. From Brisbee:

Odd note from tonight: The two starting pitchers in the game have the third-lowest and seventh-lowest fastball velocities in the National League. Only R.A. Dickey and Livan Hernandez had slower fastballs in 2011 than Shaun Marcum, and Josh Collmenter's fastball averaged just .5 more miles per hour than Marcum's. There's a good chance that we won't see a fastball over 90 until the mid or late innings.

• Neyer's ode to Arizona's outfield. A finer defensive trio may not exist.

• Shawn Marcum gave up a grand slam to Paul Goldschmidt, which you've probably heard by now. But Marcum's reaction -- he knew he threw a mistake as soon as the rookie connected -- is just perfect:

Marcumglove

Not to be lost, though, is Brisbee's analysis on Ron Roenicke's decision to walk the bases loaded to get to the slugging rookie. Smart move? In hindsight, of course not. But as Brisbee explains, you shouldn't need hindsight at all to make the right call.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: Josh Collmenter, Paul Goldschmidt Power Arizona To Game 3 Win

After two Division Series games in which they looked overmatched, the Arizona Diamondbacks overwhelmed the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 3, 8-1.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: Paul Goldschmidt Grand Slam Blows Game Open

Soapbox time. I hate when managers walk the bases loaded. Hate it, hate it, hate it. With the bases loaded, a 1-0 count becomes a get-it-in count ... except you can't just throw a meatball to get it in. So then it becomes a 2-0 counts and, oh boy, you can't throw a ball here, but you also just can't toss something right down the middle.

Here are the splits for the National League with runners on second and third, and the bases loaded.

Split AB BA OBP SLG OPS
-23 1585 .242 .395 .379 .773
123 2009 .268 .309 .414 .724
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/4/2011.


You're supposed to tease the hitter with first base open, dang it. Dig that OBP with runners at second and third. Put it where they can't do much with it, but let them try. And if you walk them, well, you just did what you were going to do in the first place.

An intentional walk is lazy. And when you have a control pitcher like Shaun Marcum on the mound, who lives off change-ups out of the zone, it's criminal to intentionally walk the bases loaded.

Which is all to say, Ron Roenicke walked Miguel Montero with the bases loaded to get to rookie Paul Goldschmidt, who then hit a grand slam to break the game wide open. The Diamondbacks took a 7-1 lead on the slam, and a Ryan Roberts single extended the lead to 8-1.

Also of note: Paul Goldschmidt is a hacking rookie with super-human strength. You don't put yourself in a position where you have to throw a strike. Cripes.

Also also of note: I think Marcum knew it was a home run.

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Appreciating Arizona's Gardeners

In the top of the fifth inning, Shaun Marcum drilled one of Josh Collmenter's batting-practice fastballs deep into the power alley in left-center field.

This was a surprise.

The drive was caught by Gerardo Parra, and could also have been caught by Chris Young.

This was not a surprise.

When it comes to outfield defense, nobody's got what the Diamondbacks have got.

Just the other day, I filled out my Fielding Bible ballot.

Gerardo Parra was my No. 1 left fielder in the National League.

Chris Young was my No. 1 center fielder in the National League.

Justin Upton was, if memory serves, my No. 1 right fielder in the National League.

One can't really credit this brilliant outfield defense with much of the Diamondbacks' turnaround this season, because all three of those guys were the regulars a year ago.

It sure doesn't hurt, though. And while a Diamondbacks win tonight doesn't exactly turn this series around, it will mean we get at least one more game with baseball's greatest outfield.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: Arizona Tacks On Another Run, Leads 3-1

Shaun Marcum is a master of deception, befuddling hitters with his perfectly placed change-up, and sneaking his fastball by them when they least expect it. At least, that's the idea. In the first three innings of Game Three, though, he's been hittable (four hits) and not as fine with his control (two walks) as he normally is.

In the third, Marcum walked Aaron Hill with one out, and he followed that up with a walk to Justin Upton. Miguel Montero followed that with an RBI single up the middle to make the Arizona lead 3-1.

The Diamondbacks almost extended the lead with Paul Goldschmidt at the plate, as Montero tried to take second on a ball in the dirt, and when Jonathan Lucroy threw to second, Upton tried to take home, only to be cut down by a Rickie Weeks throw. Goldschmidt then flew out to center field, and what could have been a sacrifice fly became the third out of the inning.

While I was writing this, Yuniesky Betancourt had an eight-pitch at-bat. Feels like that's the real story here. 

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Assorted Two-Seam And Four-Seam Slowballs

Odd note from tonight: The two starting pitchers in the game have the third-lowest and seventh-lowest fastball velocities in the National League. Only R.A. Dickey and Livan Hernandez had slower fastballs in 2011 than Shaun Marcum, and Josh Collmenter's fastball averaged just .5 more miles per hour than Marcum's. There's a good chance that we won't see a fastball over 90 until the mid or late innings.

In the other playoff game going on right now, the Yankees have the pitcher with the 16th-fastest average fastball in the American League. Some guy named Burnett. I don't want to draw conclusions here, but I'm starting to think that velocity isn't the only thing that matters for a starting pitcher.

Marcum's fastball plays faster than it is because he complements that with one of the best change-ups in the game. Collmenter's plays faster because of his freaky, hatchet-derived delivery. Both of them are freaks, but we're not here to judge.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: Josh Collmenter Misses, Corey Hart Doesn't

Corey Hart's a big strong guy.

When you throw him a batting-practice fastball, splitting the plate and roughly crotch-high, Hart is perfectly capable of doing terrible things to the baseball.

Which is exactly how he put the Brewers on the board in the top of the third inning, with a leadoff homer well over the fence in left-center field.

As Grant noted earlier, Josh Collmenter lives on his control. When you throw 88 miles an hour with virtually no horizontal movement at all, you have to hit your spots with your fastball, which he didn't. So Corey Hart crushed it.

Fortunately for Collmenter and the Diamondbacks, this isn't a chronic issue. Despite pitching half the time in a great park for power hitters, Collmenter gave up only 17 home runs in 154 innings this season.

He just missed with a pitch. It happens to everybody.

Game 3 score through 2½ innings: Diamondbacks 2, Brewers 1

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So What's The Deal With Those Dirt Strips?

If you're flipping back and forth between tonight's games, you might have been struck by an oddity: in both Comerica Park and Chase Field, there's a dirt strip between the pitcher's mound and home plate. As you probably know, this is a nod to old-time baseball. But why the strip in the old times?

From Peter Morris's essential book, A Game of Inches: The Game Behind the Scenes:

The origins of the path are somewhat obscure, but researcher Tom Shieber has unearthed what is almost certainly the explanation. He noted that early baseball clubs often played on cricket grounds, where the two wickets were connected by a dirt path to ensure more reliable bounces. He speculates that early baseball clubs found that the path led to fewer passed balls and made it customary. Shieber cites a description that appeared in the New York Clipper in July 1860.

What this doesn't explain is why baseball fields commonly featured the "pitcher's path" well into the 20th century. Morris speculates -- and I agree -- that in the days of small grounds-keeping crews and limited technology, it was exceptionally difficult to keep a field in good shape; this is obvious if you look at photos of diamonds in the old days. With pitchers and catchers frequently trodding upon that stretch of ground between mound and plate, it was just easier to forget about grass and keep a dirt strip there instead.

Of course, that doesn't explain why there are pitcher's paths today, in Phoenix and Detroit.

The answer is that somebody thought it would be a nifty nod to the baseball of yore. Which I'm cool with, except everything else in Phoenix argues exactly the opposite. It makes sense in Detroit.

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Diamondbacks vs. Brewers: Arizona Takes Early Lead

In the bottom of the first inning, Willie Bloomquist got a single. Then he stole second base. This is because Willie Bloomquist is Tim Raines now. The Brewers had a detailed plan on how to pitch to Bloomquist, but an intern lost the index card.

Bloomquist scored on a Miguel Montero double to deep center that Nyjer Morgan couldn't haul in, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Rookie Paul Goldschmidt singled to the opposite field to score Montero, who beat Corey Hart's throw even though he was running on a pair of catcher's legs.

The twist to the inning, though, is that Rickey Bloomquist was actually out on the stolen base. Or, at least, he should have been. It was a close play, so this isn't a slam on second-base umpire Jeff Kellogg, but the inning certainly would have gone quite differently if the correct call had been made.

The solution to umpires blowing calls, of course, is to not allow hits to Willie Bloomquist.

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The Odd Company Josh Collmenter Keeps

One of the more surprising stories in baseball this year was the rise of Arizona's Josh Collmenter, who will start Game 3 of the NLDS and attempt to keep the Diamondbacks alive. Collmenter wasn't a heralded prospect before the season started -- he couldn't even crack Baseball America's list of the 30 best Diamondbacks prospects -- but he came up and threw strike after strike. His career BB/9 in the minors is 3.1. In the majors he lopped off more than a walk per nine innings.

That control put him in some rare company. There aren't a lot of rookies in baseball history who came up and threw more than 150 innings without walking more than two batters per nine innings. But though it's rare company ... it's also oddly nondescript company:

Player Year BB/9 IP Age Tm
Josh Collmenter 2011 1.63 154.1 25 ARI
Rene Arocha 1993 1.48 188.0 27 STL
Donovan Osborne 1992 1.91 179.0 23 STL
Derek Lilliquist 1989 1.85 165.2 23 ATL
Dave Rozema 1977 1.40 218.1 20 DET
Mark Fidrych 1976 1.91 250.1 21 DET
Joe Niekro 1967 1.70 169.2 22 CHC
Fritz Peterson 1966 1.67 215.0 24 NYY
Jim Turner 1937 1.82 256.2 33 BSN
Cliff Melton 1937 2.00 248.0 25 NYG
Curt Davis 1934 1.97 274.1 30 PHI
Bill Swift 1932 1.09 214.1 24 PIT
Ray Kremer 1924 1.77 259.1 31 PIT
Sloppy Thurston 1923 1.75 195.2 24 TOT
Mike Regan 1917 1.71 216.0 29 CIN
Harry Gaspar 1909 1.97 260.0 26 CIN
Bill Burns 1908 0.99 164.0 28 WSH
Ed Summers 1908 1.64 301.0 23 DET
Irv Young 1905 1.69 378.0 27 BSN
Watty Lee 1901 1.55 262.0 21 WSH
Roy Patterson 1901 1.79 312.1 24 CHW
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/4/2011.


There are a couple of Hall-of-Gooders there, I suppose. Joe Niekro had a long career, and Mark Fidrych was a sensation before blowing his arm out. You can swap Fritz Peterson onto the list of Hall-of-Gooders if you're feeling frisky. And Sloppy Thurston deserves a mention here because his name was Sloppy Thurston.

But it's not the kind of list you'd expect from guys with historically unique control as rookies. This isn't to say anything poignant about Collmenter -- just noting the odd company he keeps. 

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Brewers vs. Diamondbacks: Milwaukee Keeps Same Starting Lineup, Too

Kirk Gibson is sending out the same eight position players in Game 3 as he did in Game 2. Ron Roenicke thought that was a neat idea so he's doing the same thing.

Corey Hart, RF
Nyjer Morgan, CF
Ryan Braun, LF
Prince Fielder, 1B
Rickie Weeks, 2B
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
Jonathan Lucroy, C
Shaun Marcum, SP

Boy, that sure makes these things an awful lot of fun to try and analyze. Many of these guys can hit. Some of them cannot hit as well as some of the others. You probably already have a good idea of who's really productive and who's less productive.

Through two games, the Brewers as a team have hit 20-for-66 while slugging .515, and that was against the Diamondbacks' two top starters. Today, the Brewers will oppose Josh Collmenter, who is not one of the Diamondbacks' two top starters. Either the Brewers will continue with their hot hitting, or they will not. Or they will find some kind of gray area between those two options. Like an eight- or nine-hit game. That would be in the gray area, right?

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Brewers vs. Diamondbacks: Arizona Keeps Same Starting Lineup

Pitcher aside, Kirk Gibson has drafted the same lineup against Shaun Marcum as he drafted against Zack Greinke:

Willie Bloomquist, SS
Aaron Hill, 2B
Justin Upton, RF
Miguel Montero, C
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Chris Young, CF
Ryan Roberts, 3B
Gerardo Parra, LF
Josh Collmenter, SP

Not that there was much reason for him to make a change. For one thing, this lineup hit three home runs and put 15 guys on base against Greinke and the Brewers bullpen in Game 2.

And for another thing, have you seen Gibson's bench? Here is Gibson's bench:

Collin Cowgill
Henry Blanco
John McDonald
Lyle Overbay
Geoff Blum
Sean Burroughs

There's not a lot there to choose from. All of those players have their uses, but none of them are more useful than any of the guys who're starting. One might argue that drafting a starting lineup, then, is the easiest part of Gibson's job.

As for Collmenter, he's a guy who relies on command and deception, so Gibson and the rest of the D-Backs will be crossing their fingers that he doesn't get exposed by a potent order in a hitter-friendly ballpark. He sure does throw weird. If you haven't seen Josh Collmenter throw, you're in for a trip.

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Brewers vs. Diamondbacks, NLDS Game 3 Preview: Time, TV Schedule And More

The Brewers are one win away from advancing to their first championship series since 1982. Can the Diamondbacks stay alive?

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