Behind Bradley, D-backs play to their personalities on Greinke’s off-night

Oct 4, 2017, 11:29 PM | Updated: Oct 5, 2017, 11:30 am
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — The Westside Connection and Nate Dogg single “Gangsta Nation” blared. When the team’s rallying cry, DJ Steve Porter’s “One Clap” remix came on, the champagne sprayed.

This was the Arizona Diamondbacks’ personality, out for the nation to see.

It was loose and, despite the quiet nature of the team’s set of All-Stars, confident from the beginning until the end of an 11-8 NL Wild Card win over the Colorado Rockies.

How fitting was it that the usually shy Zack Greinke wasn’t seen in the locker room rowdiness after lasting 3.2 innings having thrown 58 pitches while allowing four earned runs with a walk and one strikeout.

Manager Torey Lovullo, with a foursome of starting pitchers at hand, stressed that he felt it necessary to halt any momentum by Colorado — four runs in the fourth to turn a 6-0 D-backs lead into a ballgame was certainly such a moment.

“This is a ballclub here, the Rockies, that can really turn innings sideways in a hurry,” Lovullo said. “I felt like they were really starting to get their motor running, and I wanted to turn off that moment and I felt like the best option was to get Zack out of the game at that point in time and then we’d reload and figure out what to do the next inning.”

Reload they did.

When lefty Andrew Chafin got the final out of the fourth, it was on to the as-usual calm Robbie Ray, included on the Wild Card roster for just the moment.

And just as stoically as his brief appearance of 34 pitches, he was one of the first players to — amid the celebration — speak to the media during the bubbly shower.

“Was feeling really good,” he calmly said after throwing 2.1 frames, allowing two hits and an earned run while striking out three. “I felt good with everything in the pen, so I knew coming out all I’d have to do is execute — execute the game plan.”

Lifted for veteran and former Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, who was acting as a one-out buffer between set-up man Archie Bradley, Ray joins Greinke as a possible option for the second or third game in the Diamondbacks’ upcoming NLDS series against the Los Angeles Dodgers that begins Friday, Lovullo said.

Unsurprisingly with the Dodgers hoping for any hints to hit the airwaves, Lovullo didn’t rule much out.

“They were both short outings, so I think we’re going to talk to them and get a feel for how they feel and walk through the next steps. The candidates (for Game 1) would be (Taijuan) Walker, (Zack) Godley or (Patrick) Corbin,” Lovullo said.

But the story of the night, of course, was Bradley, whose energetic personality shined from pregame introductions to the mound and, surprisingly, to the plate. To begin, Bradley used one pitch to get out of the top of the seventh, then with two outs and two on, ripped a triple that banged against the center field wall.

And in doing so, Bradley put a scare into Lovullo.

“I was thinking, please stop right there. We’re good, we’re good,” Lovullo said. “So I think we were collectively holding our breath to make sure he got up from the dust storm at third base healthy.”

Bradley did, before letting out a scream that brought the biggest rise of the night out of the 48,803 at Chase Field.

Maybe it was too much.

Bradley’s run may have left him gassed, manager and pitcher admitted. He allowed two home runs in the next inning: one on a curveball to MVP candidate Nolan Arenado and another on a fastball to Trevor Story, making it an 8-7 Arizona lead in the top of the eighth before Arizona scored three insurance runs in the bottom of the frame.

Bradley’s night, and getting through it, was the story of the D-backs’ season, where consistency has kept them afloat through the ups and downs.

“He’s built for that moment,” Lovullo said of the triple, “that’s his personality.”

After the game, Bradley credited A.J. Pollock’s two-RBI triple in the eighth as the play of the game. Followed by a Jeff Mathis RBI, the three-run eighth for a 11-7 lead gave closer Fernando Rodney a little leeway to allow a run that Bradley didn’t provide himself.

On the night Greinke’s strong start unfurled so suddenly, it was the bullpen arms behind him that showed Arizona’s mettle.

That would include the play of the game, Bradley’s triple that — queue DJ Steve Porter — taken the the top off Chase Field. Just ask his roommate, Jake Lamb, who himself led the D-backs with four hits and three runs.

“It was one of those moments where, I hate to say this in front of him, but the pitcher’s up, two outs,” Lamb said. “You’re not expecting a whole lot, and he puts this Hall of Fame-type swing on a pitch, and yeah, the whole place went nuts.”

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