D-backs get tough, Brewers get even in grand fashion
PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks got their payback Tuesday.
It was dwarfed by Milwaukee’s a few moments later, however, a tradeoff the D-backs could have done without.
One pitch after Ryan Braun was drilled in the right side in the seventh inning, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy hit a grand slam home run over the center-field fence to cap a five-run inning for a 7-5 victory at Chase Field.
No one on the Milwaukee side believed Braun was hit by accident, even though no one on the Arizona side confessed. It is baseball’s way. My guy gets hit, so does yours. Wily Peralta hit Gerardo Parra on Monday, and Kyle Lohse hit Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings Tuesday night.
So when Marshall hit Braun and was ejected, he was greeted with fist bumps and high fives, including one from manager Kirk Gibson, when he reached the dugout, even if it loaded the bases with the D-backs holding a precarious 4-3 lead. Milwaukee understood, too, especially since Owings took his pitch high on the back, the ball running up his neck and knocking off his helmet.
"They did it on purpose, everybody knows they did. They felt they had to protect their guy," Lucroy said of Marshall’s pitch.
Then came the hit that really mattered. Lucroy’s eighth homer of the season, his second of the night and his third career grand slam, was a no-doubter to center, just to the left of the batters’ eye, off Brad Ziegler.
"They won tough-guy points today," Lohse said. "But I don’t know where the stats are for those. We won the game because of that."
Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke described Lucroy’s performance as "the best at-bat I’ve ever seen. After they smoke our guy, they bring in their closer and the first pitch he sees, he hits a grand slam. There no way an at-bat can get bigger than that. That’s as good as it gets."
The D-backs (30-44) wasted a good start from rookie Mike Bolsinger, who was promoted from Class-AAA Reno on Monday and gave up three runs in 6 1/3 innings.
He pitched the D-backs to a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning before the fun started.
The Brewers closed it to 4-3 on a triple and a sacrifice fly before Marshall entered to face pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay, who singled to center. Scooter Gennett sliced a double to left field to bring up Braun.
Marshall’s first pitch sailed behind Braun, about belt-high, and home plate umpire Ted Barrett walked to the mound to talk to Marshall. His second pitch hit Braun in the left side.
Marshall was ejected immediately, leaving the field to an ovation from a D-backs crowd that booed Braun every time he was announced, a regular occurrence since he was reported to have failed a drug test after the first game of the 2011 NLDS. The Brewers beat the D-backs in that series in five games, when Braun was 9-for-18 with four doubles, a home run and four RBI.
Braun appeared to stare into the D-backs’ dugout after being hit, as Marshall was coming off the field. Braun was asked about the reception he gets in Phoenix, and the cutting remarks Gibson has made about Braun’s violation of baseball’s drug policy.
"I hope he finds peace and happiness in his life," Braun said.
Marshall said what he is supposed to say after dustups like this.
"You don’t want a hitter like that beat you," said Marshall, a rookie. "So you are going to try to throw your best stuff at your best place and try to make him leave his comfort zone. My pitch is to go down and in, and the ball got away."
Marshall told Barrett the first pitch to Braun slipped. Barrett did not wait around for an explanation after the ball hit Braun, and Roenicke did not need one, either.
"We hit their guy in the back of the neck. We hit one of their guys yesterday. It was on purpose, there is no question," Roenicke said of Marshall’s pitch.
"We know the way the game works," Braun said. "I wasn’t surprised I got hit. I was surprised I got hit in those circumstances. We hit a couple of their guys. It was not intentional, but that’s the way the game works."
Gibson said what he was supposed to say, too.
"I am not going to comment on that. You have been around the game long enough," Gibson said.
Lucroy, a top All-Star candidate and a player Braun said should be in the MVP conversation, had the final word.
"Whether is it the quote unquote payback, whatever," Lucroy said. "I am not about revenge or payback. I am about winning the game."
Both sides seemed to agree the flareups are over.
"We’re not going to do anything," Lucroy said. "We’re not trying to hit anybody. If they want to hit us, we’ll drive them in."
Milwaukee starter Kyle Lohse wanted no part of Paul Goldschmidt, walking him on 3-2 pitches in the first, third and fifth innings. The strategy did not work that well — Goldschmidt scored in the first and the fifth.
1 — grand slams given up by Brad Ziegler in his career
— Chris Owings made a good read on his hit to medium-deep right-center field in the fourth inning and made it to second for a hustle double. With starting center fielder Carlos Gomez missing a second straight game with a hamstring injury, Owings ran on Elian Herrera, who has an infielder’s arm. Miguel Montero also went from first to third on a single to Herrera in the fifth.
— Lohse has made quality starts in 15 games this season after giving up three earned runs in six innings.
— Bolsinger went down to Reno to work on better placement of his curve ball, and he showed it in his return. Bolsinger got four of his six strikeouts on breaking balls that were low in the zone, some hitting the dirt as hitters swung over the top. The first time he was up, general manager Kevin Towers called Bolsinger’s curveball one of the best in the organization, and it looked it.
Roger Kieschnick looks like a new man in his second stint with the D-backs this season. He hit his first career home run in the ninth inning off Brewers’ closer Francisco Rodriguez, the 46th pool shot in franchise history, after a two-hit game Monday. He was recalled from Reno on Monday when Bronson Arroyo was placed on the disabled list, a move that balanced the roster with 13 position players and 12 pitchers.