Photo by Jordan Megenhardt
By Joe Gilmartin
Thanks to the Brewers for making this win necessary, and thanks (in no particular order) to Mr. Goldschmidt, Montero and Collmenter et al for turning what was advertised as a grim struggle for survival into a walk in the park.
The sellout crowd at Chase Field came prepared to sweat out a MUST win, but didn’t suffer even so much as a single spasm of real anxiety as the D-backs exploded early and often for an 8-1 victory that trimmed Milwaukee’s lead in the best-of-five NLDS series to 2-1.
The team’s M.O. all through this exhilarating season has been to strike late from behind. But given the urgency of the situation, opted to strike early, taking a 2-0 lead before their first at-bat was six batters old, and going on record a relatively rare (for them) wire-to-wire win.
Miguel Montero, held hitless in the two games at Milwaukee, was the point man in the early strike, driving in one run and setting up the other with a double off the center field fence. He also singled in a run in the third, and if I were the Brewers I would be very worried, because historically, when Miggy starts hitting it takes a week to get him out.
And Goldschmidt, who is not only developing into a budding superstar almost overnight, but establishing himself as a presence at the plate, sealed the deal with the first postseason grand slam in franchise history.
The reason I left Josh Collmenter for last was that, well, all he really did was just pretty much what he’s did during the regular season, namely tie Milwaukee’s big bats into tiny, tiny knots. In consecutive July starts, he allowed no runs and six hits in 14 innings while striking out 10 and walking one. In Game 3, he did give up a run, but allowed only two hits in seven innings while striking out six and walking one. Pretty impressive for a rookie.
The romp not only kept their postseason happily afloat, but even better, did nothing to disturb the D-backs’ underdog status, a bit of karma they have clung to all year while the rest of the baseball world keeps insisting they couldn’t swim. This is a team that not only treasures putdowns but inhales them like life-giving oxygen.
Back in March they were solemnly adjudged the weakest team in the weak West. And in October they were unanimously dissed as the weakest team in the playoffs, East or West. And the beauty of it all is they enjoy all the perks of an underdog without actually being one.
Or to put it another way, when you look at a solid rotation headed by a Cy Young-worthy ace, a bullpen anchored by a first-rate set-up man and top-of-the-line closer, and an offense that is among the best in baseball at scoring runs and hitting homers, and you have to conclude that if this is an underdog, it is the most talented one in recent memory. (And I haven’t even mentioned their private conviction that they are absolutely bulletproof).
So, what does all this mean?
Well, I wouldn’t say this within earshot of Kirk Gibson, who barks at scribes who have the temerity to even ASK if his team might win anything, but what it all adds up to for me is that while I admit to a qualm or two about Game 4, there is no way in heck the Brewers can beat Ian Kennedy in Game 5 back in Milwaukee — not with Miggie in the zone again and Goldschmidt growing more Bunyon-esque by the inning.
The bottom line: D-backs in cinco!