With 90 or so games left in the season, the Diamondbacks are playing for pride. And doing so pretty terribly.
Looking to get some revenge after Brewers starter Kyle Lohse hit Chris Owings in the helmet with a pitch in the sixth, Diamondbacks reliever Evan Marshall decided to throw at Ryan Braun with runners on second and third and one out in a 4-3 game in the seventh. He missed Braun the first time, throwing behind him. Instead of tossing Marshall for the clearly intentional pitch, umpire Ted Barrett merely issued warnings, giving Marshall another shot. The second time, Marshall hit Braun right in the butt with a 95-mph fastball, getting himself ejected and loading the bases. He also got high fives from the bloodthirsty Diamondbacks dugout, with manager Kirk Gibson being the very first to greet him.
What happened next was poetic justice. Jonathan Lucroy hit his second homer of the game off Brad Ziegler, a grand slam that gave the Brewers a 7-4 lead in a game they ended up winning 7-5.
The Diamondbacks’ response was a result of two pitches in the sixth. Lohse hit Didi Gregorius with a slider in the first, but the ball barely touched his knee. In the sixth, an 88-mph fastball got away from Lohse, hitting Owings in the helmet. Lohse immediately reacted by bending over and looking a little shaken himself. Lohse has very good command, of course, but it’s still hard to imagine the pitch was intentional, and Owings was fine, staying on his feet the whole time and remaining in the game. What happened afterwards may have been the bigger issue for the Diamondbacks: Lohse threw a curveball over opposing starter Mike Bolsinger’s head while the pitcher was trying to sacrifice. In that situation, Lohse was clearly trying to throw a high curve, preferably a bit outside, but he wasn’t trying to hit the pitcher in a close game, nor was he trying to send a message: he was just trying to throw a tough pitch to bunt and get an out.
The Diamondbacks, as it turned out, were less concerned with getting outs. Throwing at Braun to bring up the Brewers’ hottest hitter in a bases-loaded situation was asking for bad news. This is the second game of a four-game series; if Gibson and the Diamondbacks really needed to settle the score with the Brewers, they had plenty of time left to do it and not throw away a game in the process. But it seems proving the team’s grit and toughness matters more than wins and losses right now.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.