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.