In their opening game of the tournament, the 2013 team dominated the woeful 2014 version 6-0. Patrick Corbin pitched a complete game shutout and Didi Gregorious hit a grand slam off Josh Collmenter to put a 2-0 game out of reach.
The 2013 team registered the second straight season record of 81-81, and this time they were pretty much deserving of that record, as they had a 80-82 Pythagorean W-L.
2013 was the year of Paul Goldschmidt’s true breakout. Making the All-Star team, he triple slashed his way to .302/.401/.551 .952 OPS, 160 OPS+ batting line. Goldy led the league with 36 HR, 125 RBI, and won a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger. It wasn’t enough for the MVP that year as he was beat out by Pirates Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen.
Despite Goldy’s performance, the offense that year was just slightly above average, posting a 96 OPS+. Aaron Hill had a good season, posting a 124 OPS+, but missed 75 games with a broken wrist due to a HBP. Martin Prado, who came over in the Justin Upton trade posted a 105 OPS+, but got off to a very slow start. Miguel Montero, signed to a 5 year, $60M extension early in the year, but fell off a cliff from his All Star level of 2012, posting just a 83 OPS+. Jason Kubel had a miserable, injury plagued year, hitting just .220 with 5 HR and a 69 OPS + in 89 games.
Cody Ross, the team’s big free agent acquisition, got off to a slow start. He finally got hot mid-year, upping his OPS+ to 105. But his season ended with a torn hamstring on August 11th. While the bench wasn’t too bad on this team, the combination of injuries and underperformance were too much to overcome.
Left-hander Wade Miley, today’s starter, had a solid but unspectacular season, going 10-10, with a 3.55 ERA, 109 ERA+ in 202 IP. JJ Putz went down with injury, and we were all subjected to the “Heath Bell Experience” at closer for a while before the very capable Brad Ziegler took over the role.
Much has been written about the 2001 Diamondbacks. To date the team’s only World Series Champion, they conquered the hated New York Yankees in story book fashion in just their 4th year of existence. Before walking off Hall of Fame Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to win the thrilling 7th game, they went 92-70 during the regular season edging out the Giants by just two games in the NL West. They went on to defeat the Cardinals and the Braves in the playoffs to book their spot in the epic World Series.
With his team posting up for the first time in this tournament, Manager Bob Brenly decided to go with “Big Hoss” Curt Schilling. Preferring the right on right match-ups, the 2013 team didn’t have much left-handed firepower. Quite the luxury to be able to hold back Randy Johnson for the next game, eh? Sounds like a sound strategy to me. ;)
The 2001 team, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, had just league average offense, (94 OPS+) They were powered by Luis Gonzalez 174 OPS+ and 57 HR. The team had only two other regulars with an OPS+ over 100, Mark Grace (113) and Reggie Sanders (117). The rest of the starters ranged from just 64 OPS+ (Tony Womack) to 91 OPS+ (Steve Finely). This team had a solid bench however. David Dellucci, Erubiel Durazzo, Danny Bautista, utility man Craig Counsell, and Greg Colbrunn formed a solid group of backups that allowed Brenly to mix and match at will. That depth proved critical to the team’s pennant and world series run. In fact, BB gave Finley the night off and inserted the right handed Bautista into the lineup tonight against the lefty Miley.
While the 2001 team are clear favorites with Curt Schilling on the mound, the offenses are pretty evenly matched and anything can happen in one game.
#12 2013 Arizona Diamondbacks 8, #5 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks 10
In the tournament’s most exciting game to date, the World Series champions had to come back from five runs down, but prevailed on Luis Gonzalez’s home-run in the bottom of the ninth. The 2001 D-backs trailed 8-3 in the middle of the sixth, but clawed their way back with a five-run sixth, as both starting pitchers were tagged for eight runs. The bullpens then held firm, until the bottom of the ninth when Heath Bell proved he still sucks, even in sim form. With one out and Danny Bautista on base, Gonzo crushed a Bell pitch off the batter’s eye in center, for the first walk-off hit of this competition.
After a scoreless first, both teams put up crooked numbers in the second. 2013 got RBI hits from Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra, the latter using his speed to leg out an infield single with two outs. But 2001 went one better. They plated three runs, on RBI singles by Tony Womack and Bautista, around a productive out by Curt Schilling. However, that was about the extent of the good news for Curt. In the third, he gave up a two-run homer to Cody Ross, and two more runs in the fifth and sixth. The latter came courtesy of another two-run shot, this one by Paul Goldschmidt, and chased Schilling. He ended the day allowing 12 hits over 5.1 innings, with two walks and five strikeouts.
With the score 8-3, it seemed over as a contest. But if any team knows how to persevere when theings appear bleak, it’s the 2001 Diamondbacks. And here, they powered back with a five-run bottom of the sixth. Mark Grace got the rally started, lining a single to right-center off Wade Miley, and Matt Williams doubled down the line in right. Damian Miller then walked, loading the base. A Womack single scored Grace and Williams took advantage of Cody Ross’s arm in right to make it 8-5, with Womack then taking second. But Erubiel Durazo, who hit a grand-slam off the bench for the 2000 D-backs earlier this round, came through again, this time with a game-tying three-run bomb into the pool area.
Miley had blown a five-run lead without retiring a batter in the sixth. Kirk Gibson came out with the hook, albeit too late: Miley, like Schilling, allowed eight earned runs. He went five innings, giving up nine hits and three walks with four strikeouts. J.J. Putz took over, and returned his three batters, with after six, it was a whole new ballgame, with the score tied at eight. Both bullpens were able to put up zeroes in the seventh and eighth. Brad Ziegler was particularly effective for the 2013 Diamondbacks: he took only sixteen pitches to retire all six batters faced, with just one getting the ball out of the infield.
So the game entered the ninth with the score still 8-8. Byung-Hyun Kim came on for the top of the inning. He got Eric Chavez and A.J. Pollock to ground out, sandwiching Ross’s fishing on a pitch out of the zone. Gibson countered with his closer, Bell, who immediately gave up a line-drive single to Bautista. Jay Bell couldn’t advance the runner, flying out shallowly to left. But Gonzalez rendered that moot, not missing his chance. In the real 2001 campaign, he had one genuine walk-off homer, off Mike Trombley of the Dodgers on Sep 28.
He, Bautista and Womack each had two hits for the 2001 Diamondbacks, the last-named and Durazo driving in three runs apiece. Ross went 4-for-5 and had three RBI in a losing cause. 2001 progresses to the Elite Eight, where they’ll face the #13 seeds, the 2012 squad. Will the 2001 D-backs use Randy Johnson there, or keep him for a potential marquee match-up in the semi-finals against the top seeded 1999 roster?
We move into the bottom half of the bracket. and making their debut will be our second seeds, the 2002 D-backs. They will be taking on upstarts and #18 seeds, the 2016 Diamondbacks. That contest will take place next Monday.
Who will win?
This poll is closed