After going down in order on 11 pitches, the D-backs had a promising start to the second. It took Yovani Gallardo 23 pitches to record one out, Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt and Jason Kubel all singling. However, with the bases loaded and no-one retired, we TOOTBLAN'd Gallardo out of trouble. Eric Chavez flew out to relatively-shallow left, and one of the worst runners in baseball (look, I love Miggy and all, but that's not much of an exaggeration!) tried to tag up from third. To no-one's surprise, the ball was waiting for him at the plate, with the catcher propped up in an armchair, reading a book. A Cliff Pennington ground-out, and the chance was gone, in three pitches.
We wondered if that would be it, but the third inning saw the D-backs have good at-bats again. Perhaps the key, however, won't show up in the scorebook, with Gerardo Parra breaking up what would have been an inning-ending double-play with a slide into second. A single from Aaron Hill and a Montero walk loaded the bases for Arizona once again, and this time, Goldschmidt came through with a two-run single back up the middle. That was our sixth hit through three innings, and the two runs tied a franchise high for earned runs off Gallardo. He was also now up to 61 pitches by that point.
Ian Kennedy had enjoyed an extremely easy first couple of innings, retiring Milwaukee 1-2-3, but hit trouble in the third, with a single and double to lead things off. While he got the pitcher to strike out on a checked swing, at what would have been ball four, it proved only a brief respite, as a two-run double was cranked over the head of Parra in center, tying the game. He certainly seemed to be hobbling, likely the after-effect of damage incurred by his slide in the top half of the inning. A heads-up play by Chavez on a ground-out picked off the lead-runner going back to second, and we ended the third, with things still even.
That didn't last through the fourth, unfortunately, as a one-out home-run down the left-field line just refused to go foul, and gave the Brewers the lead. Gallardo seemed to have finally settled into his groove, and the patience shown by our hitters earlier had evaporated. We rolled over and went down in order on 10 pitches in the fourth, and repeated the medicine, in two pitches fewer the next time up. It was important for Kennedy to keep the deficit at one, as I did fancy our chances of scoring against the Milwaukee 'pen. And with the help of a friendly double-play, he put up a scoreless fifth.
Turned out my hopes were needlessly pessimistic, as Arizona didn't need to wait to see the opposition relievers. Montero, Goldschmidt and Kubel all got hits to lead off the top of the sixth, Kubel tying the game. A Pennington sacrifice fly then gave us the lead again, making the score 4-3. Kennedy kit the wall, allowing a lead-off hit, then uncorking back to back pitches which went to the backstop and hit the batter, but Kirk Gibson didn't get Brad Ziegler warming until a walk loaded the bases with no outs. But Kennedy got a line-drive to Chavez, which double the tying run of third, then a lazy fly ball to left, and likes the Diamondbacks, the Brewers came up empty.
If there was such a thing as momentum, Miller Park underwent a tectonic shift into the visitors' dugout with that. And remember my comment about fancying our chances against the Brewers' bullpen? Three pitches after their arrival, we had scored twice. Martin Prado singled, and Aaron Hill deposited his second homer of the year - inevitably, pulled to left field - and tacos (between the hours, etc. etc.) became available for the fourth time in six games this campaign. With a three-run lead at the seventh inning stretch, and Gallardo out of the game, this was certainly the best chance ever to beat Gallardo.
Surprised to see Kennedy come out for the seventh. While his pitch count was manageable, in the low-80s, he had put up a zero the previous time far more by luck than good judgment. A bloop single and another hit batter put the first two on for Milwaukee in the seventh, and that was the end of Kennedy's day. He allowed seven hits and a walk, with four strikeouts, but also hit two batters and had a wild pitch. Hmm, two on, no outs: to whom might we turn from our relievers? Yeah, Ziegler's gonna Ziegle. He got a K and two groundouts, though did allow one inherited runner to score (the fourth run charged to IPK today): the insurance runs were now the margin, at 6-4 through seven.
David Hernandez wobbled but didn't break in the eighth, putting two men on in the eighth, but putting up a zero. Unfortunately, J.J. Putz wobbled and did break in the ninth, a combination of hard-hit balls and hits that found gaps allowing the Brewers to bring two runs across, tying the game at six and sending us into our second extra-inning encounter of this young season. Neither side got anyone on board in the first additional frame - Tony Sipp got two strikeouts on his account - but the D'backs did damage in the 11th. Fortunately for us, John Axford was sent out for a second inning of work. Cliff Pennington doubled to lead it off, and Eric Hinske came off the bench with his first home-run as a Diamondback, a moon-shot just to the left of center.
Ohgodwhatiskirkgibsonthinkingisntjoshcollmenteravailabke? For Heath Bell came on for the second save opportunity in the bottom of the 11th. He actually did seem to pitch better, and was the unlucky recipient of some serious BABIP bad luck. But the net result was one run in, and the tying run on third with one out. Luckily, Rickie Weeks started at strike three, but Ryan Braun loomed in the on-deck circle. That turned out to be a fake, and with the Brewers out of position players, they had to send up pitcher Kyle Lohse to pinch-hit. He went down swinging, and Bell got the save, his first with Arizona.
Probably the most heart-stopping win of the year to date, I'd say, and the fangraph seems to agree.
Clean Sweep: P Goldschmidt, +31.4%; E Hinske, +24.8%
Runner Up: T Sipp, +15%
Shut Out: J Putz, -39.5%
Good showing of 44 people in the gameday thread this morning/afternoon. Songbird takes the cake, right behind her was Craig from Az, and TolkienBard just behind them. All present were: Augdogs, AzDbackfanInDc, Azreous, BattleMoses, BobRob12, Britback, BrokeNBattleX, Craig from Az, Electromikey, Fangdango, G.O.B., Gravity, GuruB, Incomplete Translation, Jake6233, Jim McLennan, John Baragona, Marc Fournier, PR151, RobbieFVK, Scottyyy, Skii, SongBird, The so-called Beautiful, TinySarabia, TolkienBard, Zavada's Moustache, asteroid, backtocali, blank_38, blue bulldog, coldblueAZ, dbacks79, emilylovesthedbacks, ford.williams.10, hotclaws, imstillhungry95, jmh1982, luckycc, onedotfive, prwhitaker1, snakecharmer, soco, and vedranzoric.
The Diamondbacks head right back home, and the Pirates come to town. Don't forget about Derrick Hall's $5.32 ticket special! See you at the yard.