Randomness was D-backs’ friend, not foe in NL Wild Card Game win
PHOENIX — All week long when somebody would ask what concerned me the most about this game, it wasn’t the Goldy slump. It wasn’t Zack Grienke’s past two shaky outings or a lack of faith in Fernando Rodney.
It was the randomness of it all. In a season where 162 games and over 1400 innings were played, only nine would be used to determine who advanced. Anything, literally anything, can happen in a singular nine-inning baseball game.
In the end, I was right. Something very random determined the outcome of this game.
Archie Bradley hit a two-run triple to pad a lead the D-backs would not relinquish. It doesn’t get any more random than that.
What I feared the most actually morphed into the D-backs’ most valuable weapon. A triple. From a reliever. Bradley has been one of their best assets all year but that triple wasn’t exactly how the brain trust drew it up.
Now it’s on to Los Angeles, a series that hopefully hasn’t been neutered somewhat by the absolutely necessary emergency managing of Torey Lovullo. More on that in a moment.
But first, Archie.
The play was so large and the roar so earsplitting it easily became one of the most memorable moments the building has seen. And, boy, it’s seen a lot of them.
One sportswriter friend of mine tweeted that at that moment Archie might have surpassed Larry Fitzgerald in terms of popularity in the Valley. After a moment and perhaps an evil eye from Fitz, reason was restored and he walked it back a little.
Jake Lamb was asked postgame what the turning point in the contest was and he responded: “I’m gonna regret this but it has to be Archie’s knock.” Of course, his good friend Bradley was sitting right next to him.
Lovullo was asked his thoughts when Bradley turned second, he replied: “I was thinking, please stop right there.”
But Bradley isn’t hard-wired to stop. He’s taken on this role as the spiritual leader of this team and worn it like a man who has been training his whole life for this moment. Stop? You might as well be asking someone to not breathe.
So run he did, and likely paid the price for it the next inning when he gave up the two homers. In the end that will become more of a footnote to the night thanks in part to the efforts of A.J. Pollock’s two-run triple, Lamb’s fourth hit of the night and J.D. Martinez avoiding a double play on a slow roller.
Not to mention everything that preceded it. Goldy’s slump-busting bomb. Daniel Descalso shot that proved he had every right to be Lovullo’s second baseman tonight.
And of course the work of Robbie Ray.
He was on this roster to serve as the managers “In-Case-Of-Emergency-Break-Glass” guy and Lovullo smashed the glass and pulled the alarm in fourth after Greinke allowed his cushy 6-0 lead go up in Colorado smoke.
The right play, the only play, is to play for now. Lovullo knew it and didn’t hesitate to act on it.
There’s no reason to save Ray for a game you might not play in. Greinke’s disappointing outing has certainly put his, and Ray’s, availability for at least the early part of the Dodgers series in real jeopardy, but to be perfectly honest, so what. In this crazy one game format, all that matters is now.
Tomorrow, this team will have one hell of a hangover and one mighty tough decision to make with their hands tied behind their back. It is no way to go into a series against a team that was virtually being handed the title a month and a half ago.
But this is postseason baseball in 2017.
If the D-backs can win an elimination game in which Greinke and Bradley combine to give up six runs then perhaps randomness is their friend and not their foe.