Diamondbacks intentionally drill Ryan Braun, give up go-ahead grand slam

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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.

Mike Trout has been really good at baseball lately

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“Water wet,” “Sky blue,” “Dog bites man” and “Mike Trout good” are not exactly newsworthy sentiments, but once in a while you have to state the obvious just so you can look back later and make sure you were, in the moment, aware of the obvious.

And to be fair, “Mike Trout good” is underselling the Angels outfielder lately. He’s on the greatest tear of his great career lately, and dang it, that’s worthy of a few words on this blog.

Last night Trout went a mere 1-for-1, but that’s because the Diamondbacks were smart enough not to pitch to him too much, walking him twice. There was no one on base the first time he came up and he got a free pass. There was a guy on first but two outs the second time, so he was once again not given much to hit and took his base again. Arizona was not so lucky the third time. The bases were loaded and there was nowhere to put Trout. He smacked the first pitch he saw for a two-run single. They probably shoulda just walked him anyway, limiting the damage to one. The last time up he reached on catcher’s interference. Maybe Arizona figured that literally grabbing the bat from him with a catcher’s mitt was the best bet?

If so you can’t blame them, really. Not with the month he’s had. In June, Trout is hitting .448/.554/.776 with five homers. He currently leads the league in the following categories: home runs (23), runs (60), walks (64), on-base percentage (.469), OPS (1.158) OPS+ (219), total bases (179) and intentional walks (9). He currently has a bWAR of 6.5. WAR, in case you did not know, is a cumulative stat. When he won the 2014 MVP Award, he “only” had 7.6 for the entire year.

Sadly, one man does not a team make, so the Angels are only 9-8 in the month of June and have fallen far back of the red-hot Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in the division race. For this reason I suspect a lot of people are going to do what they’ve long done and overlook Mike Trout’s sheer dominance or, even more ridiculously, claim he is overrated or something (believe me, I’ve seen it even this month).

Feel free to ignore those people and concentrate instead on the greatest baseball player in the game today, who has somehow managed to up his game in recent weeks.