Fielding Error, Silent Bats Plague Diamondbacks against Brewers

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Brewers 5, Diamondbacks 0

PHOENIX, June 22 — Freddy Peralta struck out 10 while allowing only one hit over six innings as the Milwaukee Brewers blanked the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5–0, Tuesday night. A mistake-riddled top of the sixth gifted three runs to the Brewers, allowing them to take a commanding lead.

Kolten Wong welcomed Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen to the game with a home run to right on a 1–1 cutter. The bottom of the inning looked promising for the Diamondbacks, as center fielder Ketel Marte belted a two-bagger to left-center. It bounded over the fence for a ground-rule double, allowing Marte to jog into second. However, about two thirds of the way there, he started limping, throwing his helmet in frustration as he arrived at the bag. The training staff accompanied him off the field as Josh Reddick pinch-ran. No runs scored in the inning, as the Diamondbacks could only muster a two-out walk the rest of the frame.

Neither team had another baserunner until the top of the fourth, when first baseman Daniel Vogelbach and left fielder Christian Yelich led off with back-to-back singles. They advanced to third and second, respectively, on a deep fly to right by Avisail Garcia. Gallen left them stranded, as he locked up catcher Omar Narvaez for a called third strike and got shortstop Willy Adames to ground to short.

Brewers Take Advantage of Diamondbacks Miscues

Gallen had to leave after five innings due to a pitch count limit. In the sixth, the Brewers plated gift runs. Wong led off with a single, but Daulton Varsho gunned him down as he tried to steal second. Daniel Vogelbach — the polar opposite of speedy — followed with a grounder to second. It would have been the second out, but Josh Rojas rushed the throw, pulling Walker off the bag. After Yelich struck out, new pitcher Stefan Crichton walked Garcia. A single by Narvaez appeared like it would score Vogelbach easily, but Vogelbach pulled his hamstring between third and home.

Pavin Smith threw the ball to relay man Josh Rojas. Both Varsho and Crichton — who was backing up the play — were screaming for the ball at the top of their lungs. Rojas, instead, tossed the ball to Ahmed, who also did not see what was going on at the plate. Vogelbach, who now should have been out twice, scored the Brewers’ second run of the game as a frustrated Varsho and Crichton kept screaming for a ball that never arrived.

That mistake opened the door for two more runs. Crichton walked Adames, loading the bases for Luis Urias. He cashed in with a two-run single, opening a 4–0 lead that felt to the Diamondbacks like a gaping wound. The lead swelled to five in the eighth when Christian Yelich blasted a splashdown home run into the pool.

Meanwhile, the entire Brewers pitching staff shut down Diamondbacks hitters. Marte’s first-inning double was the only hit of the game until Pavin Smith’s ninth-inning drag bunt up the third-base line against the shift. That bunt did not matter, as a Christian Walker strikeout and Daulton Varsho fly to deep left-center ended the game.

Postgame Reflections

The held ball in the sixth that resulted in a wounded Vogelbach scoring came from a combination of factors. One is the rarity of the play. Shortstop Nick Ahmed recalled, “Two outs, base hit up the middle, (Vogelbach, the runner on second) is going on contact. The ball was hit fairly slowly — it wasn’t a sharp-hit ball [sic]. Pavin ranged over to the right-center gap. A million times out of a million there is absolutely no play anywhere but just getting the ball into second base right there. So I did what I always do. I checked to make sure the runner touched third and was going home. He did that, so I turned around to get the ball in from the cutoff guy.

“I got it from Rojas. I turned around and checked the runner at third (Garcia) and the runner at first (Narvaez). Then I saw Varsho going like this (holding his hands up) and I didn’t know what was going on. My eyes had already panned across the whole field. Vogelbach, looking at it on video, I saw that he was (about) 30 feet from home plate, but deep towards our dugout. My eyes didn’t see him, to be perfectly honest with you. I didn’t expect that he was going to be there. I figured he had already touched home plate. Garcia was already on third — (he) had rounded it and gone back. The timing of it was weird. You never plan for someone to pull his hammy and be 20 feet outside the base line. It was just a weird play.”

Other Factors

Vogelbach being so far outside the foul line was the biggest factor in both Ahmed and Rojas not seeing him. Ahmed said, “It was not anything we were expecting. Our eyes literally did not see him.” Complicating the matter further was the suddenly loud crowd. “They saw the same thing I did, and everyone was trying to scream,” Varsho said. “It was loud in there, for how many fans we had (9,358).” Ahmed confirmed it. “I didn’t hear them. (Varsho) was yelling FOUR! FOUR! FOUR! If I had heard him, I obviously would have been more alert to throw it, but I just didn’t hear him.”

Varsho, when asked if he recalled ever seeing a play like this before, responded, “Not off the top of my head. I don’t know if that’s ever happened in my career. Going all the way back to my youth, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. He was pretty much all the way out of the play. It was weird. He was almost into our dugout but kept hobbling home.” Ahmed added, “You try to be ready for everything and be prepared as best as you can. That’s what I do each and every day. But I’ve never once taken a cut and relay and practiced a guy pulling his hammy and being 30 feet outside (chuckle) the baseline. It just has never happened.”

One Positive

Manager Torey Lovullo was encouraged by Gallen’s outing. “(Zac) took care of business for five innings, was right at his pitch count, and he kept us in the game. It was a one-run baseball game when he left. I’m very encouraged by the eight strikeouts and pounding the zone with all of his stuff. It was something that we needed. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get anything going offensively to give him some run support.”

Looking Ahead

Peralta (7–2) earned the win, while Gallen (1–3) took the loss.

Marte’s injury was “left hamstring tightness,” and his status is day-to-day. “Deep down, I think we dodged a bullet there,” Lovullo said. He does not believe that Marte will need imaging on Wednesday morning.

The Brewers and Diamondbacks wrap up their three-game series Wednesday afternoon at 12:40 pm Arizona Time. Brandon Woodruff (5–3, 1.94 ERA) will start for the Brewers, facing lefty Caleb Smith for the Diamondbacks (2–2, 3.21 ERA).

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Players/managers mentioned:
Freddy Peralta, Kolten Wong, Zac Gallen, Ketel Marte, Josh Reddick, Daniel Vogelbach, Christian Yelich, Avisail Garcia, Omar Narvaez, Willy Adames, Daulton Varsho, Josh Rojas, Stefan CrichtonPavin Smith, Luis Urias, Christian Walker, Nick Ahmed, Torey Lovullo, Brandon Woodruff, Caleb Smith