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SnakePit Round Table: Wild-card won, Division Series beckons

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In which our writers discuss the amazing wild-card game, and what the D-backs can do against the Dodgers.

MLB: NLDS- Arizona Diamondbacks Workout Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

What about that wild-card game?

Keegan: I was among the many Snake Pitters present in the stands. Without sounding too cliche, it is truly difficult to put into words how emotionally stressful that game was. The Diamondbacks were never expected to even be in this position, so it made victory in that coin flip that much more delightful. I think the team did a phenomenal job in such a high stakes atmosphere because not many players on the roster have experience in that type of environment. I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in the amount of runs allowed by the Diamondbacks pitching staff. Archie Bradley was undoubtedly gassed after his 7th inning triple. He gave up back to back home runs to two tremendous hitters. Fernando Rodney did his job effectively despite giving up a run in the 9th.

I really thought Zack Greinke was going to take control of the game and pitch downhill with a lead which he basically did until a rocky (hehehe) 4th inning. The one game Wild Card is really a unique setup, and I can see why MLB went to it. During the regular season Lovullo surely would have allowed Greinke to pitch himself out of and beyond the 4th inning even if it meant a potential loss. In that win or go home atmosphere, the manager has to have a short leash and put the team in the best position to win which Lovullo did a great job of. I went absolutely berserk when Paul Goldschmidt hit that 1st pitch 3 run home run to get the scoring started. As Andrew McCutchen tweeted, Paul’s September struggles meant nothing. Plenty to be proud of.

Turambar: My first baseball playoff game ended up being the best sporting event I’ve ever attended. Even better that the Cards vs Packers wild card game of the Kurt Warner era. That game on Wednesday was a rollercoaster of raw emotion that has left me absolutely exhausted beyond all reason. In that we went from the wild euphoria of a 6run lead to the teeth gnashing horror of watching our hero Bradley give up back to back bombs after hitting a two run triple the inning prior. I’ll never forget that game as long as I live.

Michael: Surprisingly I never felt for a single second this game would get away from the Dbacks despite how close it got. Part of that was optimism and also the fact the team gave plenty of reasons to inspire that belief. Lovullo managed this game beautifully, with most of his decisions turning out the right way. Every time the Rockies got close, the Dbacks found a way to answer. Everyone in the lineup and bullpen contributed positively in some way to help the team win, including J.D. legging out a potential double play ball to extend the 8th inning.

I do think hitting that triple did negatively affect Bradley on the mound, perhaps he probably could have slowed himself down to catch his breath and get the feeling of his legs underneath him. I think Rodney pitched better than the line says, he had solid command aside from the two hits he gave up (bad 2 strike pitches) and Desmond only scored because the Dbacks didn’t care if he did since his run was not important. I am still a bit worried if they end up in a similar situation later this month, but this team has risen to every challenge so far.

James: I’m still not sure what I think about the game, and it has been over for 18 hours now. I love that the Diamondbacks won. It was much closer than it had any right being. I mean, Arizona scored 11, but also left 10 on base. I don’t get the short leash with Greinke, or with using Ray for nearly as long as they did. How did Bradley give up back-to-back homers? Better yet, how does Jeff Mathis, possibly the slowest player on the roster, drop down a squeeze bunt and then leg it out for a hit, yet when Blackmon tries to do the same, he gets thrown out? Seriously, the world in which that game was played was upside down and backwards. In the end though, the Diamondbacks still prevailed, and now it is on to Los Angeles, where the Diamondbacks get to give the Dodgers fits.

Jim: Turned out that six-hour, 10-8 win over the Cubs at Wrigley was good practice - right from a three-run homer by Goldschmidt in the first! What a game. I wish I could have been at Chase Field to enjoy it, but was hanging on every pitch in a Las Vegas casino instead, and turning it into Chase Field North. Still an incredible amount of fun - though if we’d lost it, I’d certainly feel different! So much stuff you could not have made up, without being laughed out of the room.

Who was the Player of the Game for you?

Keegan: It is extremely difficult for me to narrow this down to 1 player, but I’m going to go with Robbie Ray. Pitching in relief, in a playoff atmosphere no less, and carrying the team through the middle innings without allowing the Rockies gain the lead or momentum was key for me. Ray was efficient striking out 3 of the 8 batters he faced. He is going to be very dangerous for opposing hitters as the postseason unfolds.

Turambar: I’d go with……..I don’t know. Too many individual moments in this game that contributed to the win. Goldy, Marte, AJ, Bradley, Ray, ect all had parts to play. So no, I can’t really pick just one player to single out.

Michael: I’ll go with two players: Robbie Ray and Ketel Marte. Marte was a huge cog at the top of the order, scoring once and driving in a run as part of the initial scoring barrage. He also showed off the wheels, reaching a top speed of 30.1 ft/s on his 2nd triple and that’s Billy Hamilton/Byron Buxton territory. Defensively he made the plays he needed to as well. In Ray’s case, he was able to restore some sanity in the game, shutting down the Rockies while the offense struggled against Chris Rusin in the middle innings. Sure it eliminates Ray from pitching Game 1 vs. LA, but in reality you shouldn’t save pitchers for a game that might not happen.

James: I’m going with Robbie Ray. After Greinke got the quick hook, Ray restored a sense of calm. He dominated the heart of the Colorado lineup, and he gave the Diamondbacks the time they needed to get things going on the offense again.

Jim: Archie Bradley. Yes, he allowed two runs in the eighth. But the two he drove in, during the seventh, were essential in terms of stabilizing the boat, immediately after the Rockies pulled within one. They had scored five unanswered runs to that point, but Bradley’s hit - the most unexpected in franchise history, I’d say - stopped all Colorado momentum in its tracks. That it came off jackass autograph hound Pat Neshek, was all the sweeter.

What was the most memorable moment?

Keegan: The entire experience was memorable, but I am going to go with Paul Goldschmidt’s 3 run home run. It was the key singular moment because through his leadership he showed the team he was ok, and that they were going to be ok too. Paul is the most important player to this franchise, and I’m glad we get to see him in this atmosphere. Time stood still for me when he made that swing.

Turambar: Mine was seeing Mathis lay down that RBI bunt in the 8th. That did two things: showed that Torey was ballsy as &%*$ and effectively sealed the game for us. Never in 10,000yrs would I expect Torey to order the squeeze play from his catcher like that with two outs. NEVER!

Michael: Archie Bradley’s triple, hands down. Goldy’s HR and AJ’s triple were big hits, but I did expect those. I never expected Bradley to pull something off like that where he delivered the biggest hit of the game at the time. It looked like the Dbacks would squander an opportunity with a light-hitting catcher and a relief pitcher at the plate with 2 guys on base. However, Bradley had other plans and blasted a middle of the plate slider into the one spot the Rockies didn’t defend. That’s going to be the one play that sticks with a lot of people.

I have three moments that stand out. First, the Archie Bradley triple was, I thought at the time, possibly the best example of YCPB that the game could offer. Then, I was quickly proven wrong an inning later when Mathis dropped down the bunt and scored Pollock. That was an even bigger, better example of YCPB. Finally, the final out of the game was rather memorable for me, mostly because I was able to resume breathing again.

Jim: Goldschmidt’s home-run. Let that be a lesson to all those who doubt, express concern about or cast aspersions on Paul Goldschmidt. Up against a pitcher against whom had never managed to get a hit off, he blasts a homer to put us 3-0 up after eight pitches. In terms of statements, they don’t come any better than that.

Do you agree with Torey Lovullo using Robbie Ray in long relief?

Keegan: Yes, absolutely. It was his bullpen day to begin with. He didn’t throw an extreme amount his last time out in Kansas City. I think Lovullo pulled him at the right moment. If Arizona manages to somehow steal Game 1 in Los Angeles, Lovullo can opt to rest him even further. Lovullo made the best decision to put the team in a position to win.

Turambar: Yes, 1 million times yes. Gotta win that game and gotta do whatever it takes to do so. Putting Ray in was the best decision at that time and I don’t care what anyone says.

Michael: I believe that in a win or go home game you play your best players. In my optimizing the roster post, I had Ray listed as an in case of emergency pitcher. Greinke didn’t last 4 innings, which qualifies as an emergency in my book. Sure it would have been nice for Greinke to have a quality start and save Ray for Game 1 of the NLDS but I’d rather not have Ray in Game 1 of the NLDS over the Dbacks not playing in the series altogether.

James: Yes and no. I was a bit disappointed in the shortness of Greinke’s leash and that they were going to go to the bullpen to carry the game. I was not surprised to see Ray in the game, and was okay with it, at first. I think he was left in too long though, as now he is likely burned for Game 1 of the NLDS. Yes, the WC game was win or go home. I would have been equally comfortable seeing Godley enter the game, or possibly even Walker, especially if the plan was to go for that long. There are dangers with looking too far ahead in the playoffs. There are also dangers in not planning for the future though. Hopefully Ray comes back and asks for the ball for Game 1. I don’t like Arizona’s chances versus Kershaw and the Dodgers with anyone but Greinke or Ray on the mound.It really boils down to, I think Lovullo showed a lack of faith in guys that this team is going to need to come up big. Now, instead of coming up big against the lowly Rockies, they are going to have to be even better against the juggernaut Dodgers. If Ray doesn’t go back out for that final inning, he probably is a no-brainer for Game 1 still.

Jim: I don’t think Greinke pitched particularly badly: he was largely BABIP’d to death in the fourth inning, but Lovullo couldn’t stand around and watch any longer. It is concerning, in that it seems to indicate a severe lack of confidence in the bullpen. This wasn’t Randy Johnson coming in to the final game of 2001 with his team down: this was throwing everything you can out there, at the cost of a much less favorable match-up in Game 1 of the NLDS. There was really no-one Lovullo trusted to hold a two-run lead? Because I guarantee you: if we win the World Series, there will be two-run leads that need to be held. And Robbie Ray won’t be available. Ask me after the NLDS though, and I’ll have better informed second-guessing available at that point.

On to the Division Series against LA. Why are you optimistic?

Keegan: 11-8 vs. the Dodgers during the regular season. Outscored them 99-71 over the course of the season. 6-0 against them over their last 6 games and outscored them 40-13. The Dodgers do not have the greatest track record in the postseason. Clayton Kershaw does not have a good track record in the postseason either. The Dodgers had a dismal September, and Kershaw had to deal with injury issues yet again. We have Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez who should be able to counter their difficult left handed starting pitchers. I feel that the Diamondbacks are the most challenging opponent for the Dodgers this postseason.

Turambar: Those last six meetings against the Dodgers certainly helps your average Dbacks fan feel pretty optimistic about our chances. So I’m certainly optimistic, and I’m confident that our bats will be alive and well

Michael: Dbacks have the players to compete with the Dodgers, and it showed all year. While the pitching matchups aren’t certainly in the Dbacks favor, the Dbacks were able to hit the bottom half of the Dodgers rotation in both September series. Same principle I said in the regular season, win the home game series and split the road. If the Dbacks split 1 and 2, they can clinch at home in Game 4. Kershaw will be a challenge, but the Dbacks have seen the Dodgers 19 times this year so there are no secrets between the two teams. The September success will be on the forefront for most of the talking heads, but once the series starts you throw those numbers out the window. Anything can happen in October baseball.

James: I’m only mildly optimistic. The Diamondbacks did win the season series against the Dodgers, and they secured that series late in the season, by beating them down the stretch in September, sweeping them in Los Angeles.

Jim: Nothing to lose, everything to gain. Few expected this team to reach .500. Even fewer expected them to make the post-season. Getting their first playoff series victory in a decade? Beyond belief. They’ve shown they can hang with the Dodgers all year: not just beating them, but outscoring them by a run and a half per game. I’ll guarantee you: the Dodgers are a lot more concerned about the D-backs than the other way around, especially in a short series.

And why are you concerned?

Keegan: It’s the effing Los Angeles Dodgers with the best team money can buy. During their improbable stretch of winning they found plenty of ways to stick around games and find ways to win late. The baseball gods favor them more often than not. They were the best team in the National League by actual W/L record and pythagorean W/L record by a healthy margin. They will likely have a healthy amount of fans in attendance at Chase Field which will be slightly embarrassing on national broadcast if true. Beating them in the NLDS would be nearly as sweet as winning the World Series because of how improbable this season was.

Michael: It’s mostly fear of the unknown and the fact the Dbacks have struggled against Kershaw, Wood, and Hill this year. I don’t know how healthy the Dodgers roster is since we caught a break with Seager nursing an elbow injury during the two series in September plus the team didn’t face Kershaw, Darvish, or Wood in those 6 games. Like with the Wild Card game, the Dbacks need to take an early lead and pitching has to shut down the Dodgers lineup. All these games are going to be close like with the regular season matchups.

James: Well, the first concern is, this is the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they are now relatively healthy. Los Angeles had the best regular season record in all of baseball for a reason; they are a damn good team. My second concern is Arizona is now likely starting Walker, or perhaps Corbin, in Game 1 of the NLDS. The Dodgers will be countering with Kershaw. I have very little faith in either Walker or Corbin to throw six shutout innings, which I fully believe may be necessary for Arizona to stay competitive in that game. I think Arizona’s best chance to win the series is to come out and punch L.A. right in the nose, and then not give the Dodgers a chance to think about what happened. With Greinke and Ray both unavailable to start the NLDS, managing that has become much more difficult. My concern is that, if the Dodgers win the first game, they then have knocked off the rust and once again become confident in their ability to steamroll the Diamondbacks. No one wants to face a confident Dodgers team this year.

Jim: They won more than 100 games. They are the most well-funded franchise in baseball, and unlike previous front-offices, the current set know what they’re doing with all that money. In Kershaw they have one of, if not, the best pitcher in the game. Bellinger and crew form a very solid line-up without obvious weaknesses. It’s not going to be easy, for sure. But we have done it before. And doing it again would be sweet, indeed!

Poll

Who was the MVP of the Wild Card Game?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Archie Bradley: 1.1 IP, TPL, 2 RBI
    (11 votes)
  • 20%
    Paul Goldschmidt: 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI
    (11 votes)
  • 5%
    Jake Lamb: 4-for-5
    (3 votes)
  • 35%
    Ketel Marte: 3-for-5, two TPL
    (19 votes)
  • 16%
    Robbie Ray: 2.1 IP, ER, 3 SO
    (9 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now