The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Joe Saunders to the mound on Wednesday needing a win to force Game 5 in their NLDS matchup with the Milwaukee Brewers. To counter, the Brewers sent Randy Wolf to the hill, giving us a good old fashioned shootout. By the time it was over the Diamondbacks had a 10-6 win, thanks to an explosive first inning that feature yet another grand slam.
Here are a few of the highlights from Wednesday's live-blog.
The Brewers struck first, taking a 1-0 lead on a Ryan Braun single that scored Jerry Hairston. But the lead quickly evaporated thanks to what's become the Diamondbacks signature move.
79 miles per hour, thigh-high, over the middle, in a hitter's count. Roberts clobbered that meatball for a grand slam down the left field line - the Diamondbacks' fourth grand slam in four home games. It's like a thing of theirs. You see why they're in the playoffs?
Chris Young followed the grand slam with a homer of his own, and suddenly the Brewers 1-0 lead was a 5-1 deficit. Was it surprising to see Wolf tagged for five runs early? Let's ask Grant Brisbee!
The Diamondbacks are still in command of the game, but something I like to do is play "Is it a headline?" Is it a headline that Randy Wolf got tagged for five earned runs? Nope. Surprising, maybe, but it's not going to lead the sports section of the New York Times.
A pitchers duel this was not. While Wolf was giving up runs in bunches, Joe Saunders was leaking them slowly, like a sinking vessel. Jeff Sullivan had a few ideas why.
Well. People like me might make a little too much fun of Joe Saunders - he does own a career 103 ERA+, after all - but he doesn't throw a lot of strikes and he doesn't miss a lot of bats, and the end result is that he just plum isn't good. He's good relative to you and me, but he's not good relative to his peers. Relative to his peers, he's just a mediocre starting pitcher trying to find his way in the world.
And in the third inning, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson decided to put an end to the Saunders experiment, pinch-hitting for him with runners on second and third. It worked!
With Paul Goldschmidt and Chris Young in scoring position, two outs, and the pitcher's spot coming up, Gibson sent up Collin Cowgill, who had exactly 100 at-bats in the regular season and a .239/.300/.304 line. Cowgill singled through the left side, extending the Diamondbacks' lead to 7-3. Good move by Gibson? With the benefit of hindsight, it looks like a great move.
Arizona held its 7-3 lead into the sixth inning, when Carlos Gomez decided to bunt the leadoff man, who was on first base, into scoring position with style -- by diving into first base. If you're not sure whether diving into the bag at first was a good idea, let Rob Neyer explain.
The batter was Carlos Gomez, and he dove at the base and was out by a couple of hairs. He might have been safe if he'd just sprinted like a normal (really fast) person. It would have been closer, for sure.
The run did come around to score, and the Diamondbacks lead was down to 7-4.
In the seventh, Chris Young added his second home run of the game, this time of the two-run variety, to push the Diamondbacks lead to 10-4 -- Arizona had tacked on a run in the inning prior. Of course, Milwaukee answered, but it was too little too late.
...aaaaaand as I was writing this, Carlos Gomez lined a two-run homer in the top of the eighth. 10-6 now. See? Runs! Really fast! Randy Wolf and Joe Saunders can feel just a little bit better about themselves now.
That's where the score stayed, with Arizona closing out the game to force a decisive Game 5 in Milwaukee on Friday. From down 0-2 in the series to knotting it up at two games apiece, the Diamondbacks crawled all the way back, taking care of business in their home park to force Friday's do-or-die matcup.