The Arizona Diamondbacks have played aggressively all season long, and that philosophy led them to 94 wins and a surprise NL West title. It would be silly to expect them to drastically change that style of play for the postseason, and yet, it was precisely that aggressive philosophy that cost them the first game of this best-of-five contest.
The Diamondbacks had a chance to score right out of the gate. Leadoff hitter Willie Bloomquist was on second base (it should be noted, due to a stolen base), and headed home on Justin Upton's single to shallow left field. With just one out and the heart of the order coming up, Bloomquist got gunned down by outfielder Ryan Braun.
"We've had several games, I guess, throughout the year where we've run into several outs, but you've just got to deal with it," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "Do we want to run into outs? No. Will we? I hope not. But if we do, we're going to pat him on the butt and say 'good defense.'"
Gallardo settled down after the first inning, fanning nine batters and allowing just three more baserunners over the next seven frames. We don't know whether the D-backs would have been able to put together a big first inning with runners at the corners and one out or not, but it may not have taken a huge inning for Arizona to take this game.
With two outs in the sixth and the Brewers up by one run, 7th-place hitter Yuniesky Betancourt tripled. The thought of intentionally walking Jonathan Lucroy to get to pitcher Yovani Gallardo never entered Gibson's mind. The .265-hitter blooped a single to left, doubling the Milwaukee lead.
"Actually, the RBI by Lucroy, [Kennedy] made a good pitch on him there," defended Gibson. "[Lucroy] gets jammed on it, and they drop it in."
A similar situation came up the following inning, and this time, Gibson
admitted to making a mistake. Ian Kennedy had thrown 109 pitches after
Ryan Braun doubled to right field. With two outs, a base open, and Prince Fielder at the plate, Gibson had Ian Kennedy go right after one of the best
left-handed hitters in the game. Two pitches later, Fielder deposited a
wheelhouse curveball into the right field stands.
"I left him in, it was a bad decision on my part, obviously," conceded Gibson. "We had different options. Could have brought Paterson, who has actually handled Fielder well, could have walked him and let Ian face Weeks. Ultimately, that's what he wanted to do, and it was my decision to let him do it that way. It didn't work out. He threw probably the worst pitch of the game."
Down 0-1 in a series in which they were underdogs to begin with and their best pitcher already used, you figure that if anything, Arizona will be even more aggressive in Game 2. Excepting, perhaps, when Fielder's up with first base open.
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