The Milwaukee Brewers are going to need some help if they hope to catch the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central standings. Help that before Wednesday night had not come from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arizona dropped the first two games of a home series against the Cubs in lopsided fashion. But it wasn’t those outcomes that had Brewers fans annoyed before Wednesday’s game. Instead, it was Arizona’s effort (or perceived lack thereof) to turn the series around that left them peeved.
It all centered around a lineup that was mostly void of Arizona’s usually potent offensive stars, and instead filled in with backups and minor leaguers.
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) September 19, 2018
No MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt to be found there. No David Peralta, A.J. Pollock or Steven Souza either. The only regulars playing were Nick Ahmed, Ketel Marte and Robbie Ray, who’s a former All-Star pitcher.
It’s the type of lineup we’ll see in spring training, or when a team has thrown in the towel. Many figured the latter was true after Arizona entered the day 5.5 games out of a playoff spot. But this lineup wasn’t having any of that talk. They met the challenge thrown at them by manager Torey Lovullo, ignited an admittedly struggling offense and silenced the critics from Milwaukee and elsewhere by beating the Cubs and Cole Hamels 9-0.
Brewers fans voice their disapproval
There’s sort of an unwritten rule in baseball that all teams should, regardless of their status in the standings, field a respectable lineup against contending teams in September. The thought being it keeps the competitive balance in order and doesn’t reward teams for being fortunate enough to play teams with nothing to play for down the stretch.
Some managers honor it, while other managers really only care about their own team’s business. As for the teams desperately needing help, it’s difficult to ignore when the team you’re chasing faces a watered down lineup.
The players or coaches might not always say anything, but the fans certainly will. When Brewers MLB.com beat writer Adam McCalvy posted Arizona’s lineup for Brewers fans to see, they were not happy.
The assumption was the Cubs would roll right over Arizona’s less-than-threatening lineup.
The reality was far different.
Backups provide a spark
Lovullo insisted before the game that his lineup was in no way a sign of surrender. It was his attempt to light a spark, while giving his regulars an extra day of rest.
“What’s been happening over the past several days has not been working,” Louvllo said of his lineup changes. “I feel like it’s my job to pay attention to certain things and the needs of this team daily to win a baseball game. I talk about maybe adjusting some cards in my hand every once in a while, today I just shuffled the deck.”
The shuffled deck came up aces.
It helped that Ray, an excellent pitcher when healthy, was dialed in on the hill. He allowed one lonely hit over six scoreless innings against the Cubs regular lineup. But Arizona’s offense really set the tone, scoring four runs in the first inning against Hamels. The big blow was a three-run home run from 27-year-old rookie Christian Walker.
The Cubs' A lineup beating the D-backs' A lineup twice while the Cubs' A lineup losing to the D-backs' D lineup is the most basebally thing.
— Dylan Heuer (@dylan_heuer) September 20, 2018
It is very basebally. The more basebally it gets the better, we say.
Handle your own business
On this night, the Diamondbacks got the last laugh after being laughed off social media for several hours.
On this night, the Brewers finally got the help they needed. Not only from Arizona, but from themselves. After losing one to the Cincinnati Reds, whose every day lineup isn’t much better than this one from Arizona, the Brewers won Wednesday to move within 2.5 games of the Cubs.
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