DBacks Throw at Braun “Unintentionally,” But Brewers Win
Last night’s baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Arizona Diamondbacks was notable for two things: a grand-slam homer by Jonathan Lucroy that won the game for the Brewers, and an “unintentional” plunking of Ryan Braun that served to load the bases for Lucroy.
Let me break it down for you.
The Brewers were down, 4-3, in the top of the 7th inning. Two men (Scooter Gennett and Lyle Overbay) were standing on second and third base, and Ryan Braun was at the plate. There were two outs. Braun has been doing better lately, but right now, Lucroy is the better all-around hitter.
Anyway, the DBacks had a number of options. They could’ve intentionally walked Braun. They could’ve pitched to Braun. They could’ve given Braun an “unintentional” intentional walk — where they do try to pitch to Braun, but give him nothing worth having.
Instead, they threw at his backside. Twice.
The first pitch missed. The home plate umpire, Ted Barrett, went out to ask the DBacks pitcher, Evan Marshall, what occurred — Marshall clearly said something like, “It slipped,” so the ump went back behind the plate.
However, when Marshall threw again at Braun’s backside, this time hitting him, Barrett didn’t wait: he threw Marshall out immediately.
Marshall exited to fist-bumps from his own dugout and a standing ovation from many in the crowd. (Note that the Brewers play their Spring Training games in Arizona, so there were a goodly amount of Brewers fans in the audience. They definitely did not stand up; instead, they booed.)
Now, Jonathan Lucroy came to bat. He’d hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, is among the hottest hitters in baseball (currently is hitting .340, good for third in the league), and considering Braun is “only” hitting .284 at the moment (low by Braun’s standards), no one in his right mind would intentionally hit Braun to get to Lucroy.
And Lucroy delivered, just as you’d expect him to do. He hit a grand slam homer. And just like that, the Brewers went from being down, 4-3, to winning, 7-4. And they eventually won the game, 7-5.
All of Marshall’s posturing aside, it was obvious that Marshall intentionally threw at Braun. (The smirking Marshall insisted in the post-game interviews aired by Fox Sports Wisconsin that he’d not intended to hit Braun at all. But that’s just absurd.)
It’s also obvious from all the fist-bumping in the dugout that Kirk Gibson not only knew of Marshall’s plan, but Gibson must’ve approved of it. (How else would a guy who’s just lost the game and not even gotten one single batter out get fist-bumps from his own dugout?)
And finally, DBacks catcher Miguel Montero obviously knew of this plan as well, as both times he set his glove far inside, right behind Braun’s butt.**
Mind, Kyle Lohse did hit two DBacks earlier in the game — Didi Gregorious, and Chris Owings. But Lohse barely grazed Gregorious (in fact, I’m not even sure Lohse hit him, it was that light; he got him on the pant leg), and the pitch to Owings wasn’t anywhere near as blatant as that thrown at Braun — twice.
It’s well-known that Kirk Gibson does not like Ryan Braun, and blames Braun for the DBacks losing the NLCS to the Brewers in 2011. (Gibson seems to think that if Braun hadn’t been taking PEDs then, the DBacks would’ve won. An odd assumption.) So having Braun go to the plate and get hit, and having the unseemly display in the dugout after Marshall quite rightly got ejected from the game, seems like Gibson planned this particular event to the letter.
The only thing that failed was in having to pitch to Lucroy one batter later. Lucroy was fired up, as was everyone in the Brewers dugout. Had Lucroy not hit the grand-slam homer, it’s possible there could’ve been some ugliness between the two teams.
Fortunately, Lucroy hit the grand slam. The DBacks quieted down. The partisans in the crowd quieted also, while the Brewers fans rejoiced. And Milwaukee won the game because of Gibson’s stupidity in loading the bases to pitch to Lucroy, incompetence (enough said) and obvious hatred of Ryan Braun.
Braun said he was anticipating getting hit at some point, just not at that point.
“We know the way the game works. I wasn’t surprised I got hit,” Braun said. “I was surprised I got hit in that situation, those circumstances — go-ahead run at second base, tying run at third.”
Any speculation that Gibson may have wanted Braun because of the PED issue brings to mind Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster intentionally hitting the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez last August after Rodriguez was suspended 211 games by MLB. Dempster was suspended five games.
Asked if he thought the drug angle figured in Marshall’s pitch, Braun said: “You’d have to ask him (Gibson). I wish him the best, hope he finds peace and happiness in his life.”
Which, really, is all Braun can say.
All I know is this: What the Arizona Diamondbacks did yesterday in deliberately plunking Ryan Braun in the butt, then fist-bumping and high-fiving the pitcher, Evan Marshall, who did it (and promptly got ejected for it), was classless, shoddy, and stupid.
No wonder the DBacks are 30-44. Because acting like that, they’ve obviously proven themselves to be losers of the first water.
**Note: Expect suspensions for Marshall, Gibson, and possibly Montero. Because they’ve all earned them.