PHOENIX – For a good 24 wild-card hours, starters had climbed pitchers’ mounds as the chosen ones, those tasked with lifting their clubs from the regular season into the division series, and what followed was not tidiness, not gallantry, not brilliance,
Down went the Twin. Down went the Yankee. Down went the Rockie. And down, lastly, went the Diamondback. And in came the bullpens. And, here, up came a little more chaos.
In an elimination game Wednesday night at Chase Field, after having pitched
The Diamondbacks won 11 of 19 games against the Dodgers.
The Dodgers had a losing record against just two opponents. The other was eliminated by the Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.
As in the American League wild-card game, in which neither starting pitcher posted well, the NL’s version ran out to a 6-0 Diamondbacks’ lead against Rockies starter
In his first postseason start, the 25-year-old Gray allowed a single on his sixth pitch, another single on his seventh, and a three-run home run – to
It got only marginally better after that.
By his 21st pitch, he’d recorded an out, but also had Diamondbacks baserunners on second and third. And while he steered away from the Diamondbacks scoring again, the Rockies’ chosen ace had spent 33 pitches in his first inning, even as teammates hastily warmed in the bullpen over his left shoulder.
The most harmful of the 33 was a first-pitch curveball to Goldschmidt he presumably believed he could throw for a strike and would surprise Goldschmidt, an exceedingly good fastball hitter. One never knows what might turn a game with such weighty consequences, but an at-bat against Goldschmidt with two on in the first inning has a reasonable chance to be it. So, it was possible Gray overthrew that curveball, or didn’t entirely believe in it, but it arrived at Goldschmidt about chest-high, and catcher
Goldschmidt bats to the chant of MVP, which echoes in the cavernous ballpark when the roof is closed, so it comes out muddled and murky, but you know what they’re saying. He’s their guy. Didn’t matter if he hit .171 across September, as he’d pretty much clobbered every other month for half-a-decade.
Already sensing a division series matchup against the Dodgers, the crowd roared in his head.
And yet, according to 2017 baseball and true to the early returns on October, an inning-and-a-half later, Greinke took the same walk, only in the opposite direction. Cool, stoic, deliberate and razor sharp for three innings, Greinke, the unquestioned ace of the Diamondbacks in deeds and paychecks, lost his way in the fourth. The Rockies strung together a series of hits that were soft and yet unrelenting, and after the fifth of those – by the end a hard double by Lucroy and a clean single by pinch-hitter
Ray, the presumed NLDS Game 1 starter in the event the Diamondbacks advanced, allowed a run in 2 1/3 innings, momentarily settling things at Chase Field. He threw 34 pitches.