October 5, 2011
NLDS Game Three: Milwaukee's Road Woes Continue
Saturday and Sunday saw the Milwaukee Brewers looking like World Series contenders. Ryan Braun was 6-for-8 in two games, while Prince Fielder was 3-for-8. Yovani Gallardo pitched a gem on Saturday, and a strong offense bailed out a pedestrian outing from co-ace Zack Greinke on Sunday. With that kind of talent playing at that high a level, Milwaukee's visit to Phoenix and Chase Field felt like nothing but a formality on their way to the National League Championship Series. Shaun Marcum, whose ERA was over two runs better on the road than at home (4.81 vs. 2.21), was getting the start Tuesday night, further raising expectations of Milwaukee fans.
It didn't work out that way. The Brewers came out in Game 3 Tuesday night looking a little distracted. Marcum looked worst of all. A pitcher who gets by with pinpoint accuracy of his off-speed pitches, Marcum spent too much time off the plate. When he did throw strikes, they were rarely thrown well enough to fool anyone in that potent Arizona lineup. Even so, it was only a 3-1 game in the fifth when Marcum faced Miguel Montero with two outs and first base open.
Instead of letting the struggling Marcum pitch to the left-handed-hitting Montero, manager Ron Roenicke elected to load the bases by walking Montero to bring up Paul Goldschmidt. Marcum was left in to face Goldschmidt and, unsurprisingly, the powerful rookie put one into the seats for a grand slam.
Shaun Marcum apparently knew the pitch was out when he made contact:
At that point, the Diamondbacks were in complete control. Josh Collmenter, the rookie starter, continued his mastery of the Brewers. In 14 regular season innings, the Brewers scored no runs off Collmenter. The streak was interrupted by Corey Hart's solo home run early in the game Tuesday, but that was the only offense Milwaukee could muster. Collmenter held the heart of Milwaukee's order—Braun, Fielder, and Weeks—hitless in his seven innings.
Will anything change on Wednesday night as the two clubs face off for Game Four? The Brewers are a much better team in Miller Park than anywhere else, but they did finish 39-42 on the road after starting a jaw-dropping 14-29 before July 1. Arizona hopes that trend will play out for them when Joe Saunders takes the mound against Randy Wolf. Arizona must also hope that the team's victory tonight was more than the typical "first game in front of the home crowd" win that so many "just happy to be here" teams seem to manage. It's a trap that many young teams fall into, including a similarly young, powerful team in the 2008 Brewers. Justin Upton and his teammates would do well to score early on Wolf Wednesday, or they might find themselves following in those footsteps much too soon.