The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Colorado Rockies 11-8 in the NL Wild Card game to advance to the NLDS against the Dodgers. It was a rollicking game with unlikely heroes, varying degrees of success when it comes to managerial decisions, and, of course, some great beards. Such great beards.
Whether they’ll be able to keep their success going and make it through the Dodgers without home field advantage is a toss up based on their history, but their bats were certainly hot enough against the Rockies to instill confidence.
Arizona went up 6-0 early but couldn’t fully hold on to that intimidating lead for long before the Rockies came storming back. Even with their best efforts, the Rockies couldn’t push ahead to win the game. Here are three things that made the game as much fun and as wild as it was.
Not Even Zack Greinke could last in a wild card game
Starting pitchers weren’t long for the world in the Yankees/Twins game on Wednesday night, and the same stayed true on Thursday with Rockies starter Jon Gray lasting a mere 1⅓ innings before being yanked. Colorado was already down 4-0 and Gray let up seven hits before his exit.
The real shock though was that the same went for Greinke, the Diamondbacks’ ace who stated before the game that he just wanted to have a good outing.
Although Arizona pulled out the win, it was in spite of Greinke’s pitching, which barely made it past the three inning threshold before he too got lit up for four earned runs, letting Colorado back in the game.
He pitched 3⅔ innings before heading to the bench, walking one but only striking out one batter as well. Of all the starting pitchers queued up for wild card game starts, Greinke falling apart early was the most shocking. The Diamondbacks had to go deep into their bullpen to keep things under control, even resorting to putting fourth starter Robbie Ray on the mound in the fifth inning.
Like their AL counterparts the Yankees, this now makes things a bit more complicated for the Diamondbacks going into the Division Series, scattering all their best laid plans to the wind. That this happened because Greinke couldn’t keep things under control from 60 feet away from home plate, and not their bullpen, is the most surprising development.
Offense came from some random sources
There was a lot of offense in this game, as you can tell from the 19 combined runs in the final score. What was most fun is the unexpected ways in which those runs got on the board in the first place.
The absolute best moment was by far Archie Bradley’s triple that set the whole crowd aflame with excitement, especially that magnificent scream afterwards.
Arizona had four triples all by themselves, nearly half of what some teams had in all of their home games this season (lookin’ at you, Boston).
On the Rockies’ side of things, the bench’s bats did not come to mess around. They went 4 for 5 and even Ian Desmond got a hit. Arizona’s Daniel Descalso, who reasonably could have been left off the game’s roster, hit a home run! Everybody got a hit.
That was half the excitement though, not just that runs were being tallied at such an entertaining rate, but that you never knew where they’d come from next. It certainly made you keep one eye on the game at all times in case something else incredible or random happened while you were grabbing a snacks refill or taking a bathroom break.
Unending offensive output isn’t always this good a thing, but when decisions are seemingly being made by a baseball god’s game of pinball on the machine in heaven’s arcade, nobody should be complaining.
Torey Lovullo, whatcha doin’?
Sure, Bradley hitting a triple was really fun and basically the centerpiece for the whole game, but the only reason that happened at all was because Arizona manager Torey Lovullo decided to let Bradley, a reliever, hit in the first place.
Uh ... what?
Lovullo made lots of decisions that left those in the park and at home flabbergasted as to what was going on his head. Both Bradley and Ray hitting for themselves are at the top of that list.
Also on the tally are things like Jorge De La Rose entering the game before Bradley did, .215 hitter Jeff Mathis (who only had 14 extra base hits in 186 at-bats all season) not being pinch-hit for with two runners on and one out in a one-run game, and Ray not continuing to pitch after he had already hit for himself and would have been facing lefty Charlie Blackmon.
Mathis is possibly the most egregious, since the Rockies were carrying three catchers on their wild card roster and didn’t need to get precious about not subbing one of them out because of a bad batting matchup.
Salvatore Anthony Lovullo, what is wrong with your brain!?
He did win the game though, and seemed to shake off the varying roster concerns people had before the game just fine. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters, but fans probably hope Lovullo doesn’t play so fast and loose with logic against the much more formidable LA team they’re about to go up against.
That’s where they’re headed, and if that series is anything like this elimination game it should be appointment viewing.