Today sees the fourth of the preliminary round match-ups, with two of the lower seeds battling for a place in the last sixteen. The visitors at Chase Field are the 2016 D-backs who... weren’t very good, going 69-93. This was Dave Stewart and Chip Hale’s last season in charge of the team, and looking at the line-up here, it’s easy to see why. WhatIfSports.com tried to help, putting Mitch Haniger in center, rather than Michael Bourn, but in line with my previous changes, I’ve inserted the most regular player there. I also swapped Nick Ahmed for Chris Owings at shortstop, though this was back in the day when Owings was a better hitter than Ahmed. Kids, ask your parents!
Not that the 2005 Diamondbacks made much of an impression either, struggling to end the season at 77 wins. But what would you expect, with Royce Clayton playing 143 times? The line-up provided here is the one that I went with, the sole tweak being swapping Luis Terrero and Shawn Green, as the simulation put Green in center. Though I was surprised to see Green had actually started 40 games there. Jose Cruz actually did so more there than either man, but Terrero had the overall edge in CF innings. Pitching was an easy choice for both teams, Greinke and Webb being the only options for their teams with ERAs below 4.90 and 4.40 respectively.
2016 Arizona Diamondbacks 7, 2005 Arizona Diamondbacks 5
We have our first upset in the tournament, the 18th seeds knocking off the 15th seeds, after a Royce Clayton error opened the door for 2016 to score five times in the fourth. All seven runs were charged to 2005’s Brandon Webb, but only two of those were earned. Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer for 2016, and Zack Greinke gave them a quality start, albeit barely. Luis Gonzalez and Craig Counsell went deep for 2005, the former driving in four of their five runs.
Initially, it looked like this might follow the previous three games, and go the way of the home team and higher seed. For the 2005 Diamondbacks jumped out to a 2-0 lead before all of the crowd have even taken their seats. Zack Greinke issued a lead-off walk to Craig Counsell, and one out later, Luis Gonzalez went opposite field, the ball staying just fair down the left-field line, going into the home-team bullpen for a two-run homer. However, Zack settled down, retiring the next seven batters before a Royce Clayton triple with two outs in third,
Clayton was instrumental in that nightmare fourth, booting a routine groundball of the bat of Welington Castillo. A single to Brandon Drury and a walk to Yasmany Tomas loaded the bases with out out, and 2016 got on the board as Nick Ahmed singled to left. It looked like Webb might escape further damage as Greinke popped out to Chris Snyder, still with the bases loaded, for the second out. But it then took Brandon three attempts to get the final one, Jean Segura delivering a two-run single and Michael Bourn a two-run triple. All five runs were unearned, as 2016 took a 5-2 lead.
2005 pulled one run back in the fifth, on a Counsell solo shot to right-center. But 2016 got that back and more, on Goldschmidt’s two-run homer which finally chased Webb. He gave up those two earned runs over 6.1 innings, on nine hits and two walks with four strikeouts. Greinke left the game for the bottom half, going six inning and allowing three runs, four hits and three walks, while striking out six. Randall Delgado took over, and after a 1-2-3 seventh, struggled in the eighth. 2005 first pushed the score to 7-4 on a Gonzo single, then loaded the bases with one out. But Daniel Hudson got Lus Terrero, representing the go-ahead run, to strike out swinging, then Chris Snyder hit into a fielder’s choice.
2005 weren’t quite done yet though. Brad Ziegler entered for the save, but allowed two singles and a walk, as well as uncorking a wild pickoff throw. That made the score 7-5, with two outs and two men on. With the tying run on base, Chip Hale had seen enough, and went out with the hook, turning to Jake Barrett. He got Shawn Green to fly out to Michael Bourn, who completed a fine game in which he also had four hits. Luis Gonzalez had three in a losing cause for 2005.
2016 will need to pull off a further upset next time, as they now get to face #2 seed, the 2002 D-backs. Tomorrow, it’s a match-up from the past decade as your nineteenth seed, the 2010 Diamondbacks (65-97) take on the fourteenth seeds from 2015 (79-83).
2010 vs. 2015: who will win
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