- By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
- Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate wild-card victory
By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX (AP) — Three bags, four times.
And you wouldn’t believe who got in on all the fun for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Spirited reliever Archie Bradley hit a stunning triple in the seventh inning, driving in two runs with one of four three-baggers by Arizona that sent the Diamondbacks past the Colorado Rockies 11-8 in the National League wild-card game Wednesday night.
“After today, I think pretty much I’ve seen everything,” first-year Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “This was an incredible game.”
As he watched his top reliever rounding second base, Lovullo said he thought, “Please stop there.”
But that’s not Bradley.
“That’s just kind of who I am,” he said. “I don’t know any other way to play, so I was going to run as hard as I could until they told me to stop.”
Paul Goldschmidt launched an early three-run homer and the Diamondbacks built a 6-0 lead before ace Zack Greinke faltered. Colorado climbed back into it and cut it to 8-7 when Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story hit back-to-back homers in the eighth off Bradley, perhaps tired from hustling around the bases and shouting in excitement to giddy teammates.
But then A.J. Pollock knocked in two runs with Arizona’s fourth triple, this one off closer Greg Holland, as the Diamondbacks scored three times in their half of the eighth to finally put it away.
“Right away all hell broke loose,” Colorado manager Bud Black said, “and from then on it was a heavyweight fight.”
Arizona advanced to a best-of-five Division Series against the NL West champion Dodgers, a team the Diamondbacks beat the last six times they played.
Game 1 is Friday night in Los Angeles.
“Look, the Dodgers got on a tremendous run there,” Lovullo said, “and I think they were steamrolling teams and intimidating teams, and I don’t think we have that mentality. We love that battle mindset. We love that challenge.”
The Diamondbacks became the first team with four triples in a postseason game since the Boston Americans (now Red Sox) twice hit five during the first World Series back in 1903 against Pittsburgh.
It was that kind of crazy night in the desert as two NL West foes slugged it out. Daniel Descalso also homered for the Diamondbacks, and Ketel Marte tripled twice.
“That’s one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of, if not the best,” Goldschmidt said.
Bradley, a high-energy setup man recruited to play quarterback at Oklahoma, went 1 for 4 at the plate this season to raise his career batting average to .098. With two outs in the seventh, he drove a 3-1 pitch from Pat Neshek to deep left-center to give Arizona an 8-5 cushion. It was his first extra-base hit in the majors and the first triple by a reliever in postseason history.
Already a fan favorite for his bushy beard and late-inning relief work, Bradley regrouped from the two solo homers he gave up to get the final two outs of the eighth with the Diamondbacks clinging to a one-run lead.
Fernando Rodney allowed a run in the ninth before closing out Arizona’s first playoff game since 2011.
Jake Lamb tied a Diamondbacks postseason record with four hits, all singles, and scored three times.
Jonathan Lucroy doubled twice, scored two runs and drove in one for the Rockies in their first playoff appearance since 2009.
Marte, who came to Arizona with pitcher Taijuan Walker from Seattle for Jean Segura in an offseason deal, became the first player to triple twice in a postseason game since Mariano Duncan did it for Philadelphia against Atlanta in the 1993 NL Championship Series.
The home team won for just the second time in the six NL wild-card games since the one-game format was adopted in 2012. The hosts hadn’t even scored in the last three, but the Diamondbacks ended that before their first out.
Goldschmidt, in an 0-for-17 slump to end the regular season, hit the first pitch he saw from ineffective starter Jon Gray into the left-field seats for a three-run shot.
Greinke blanked the Rockies on one hit through three innings but never made it through the fourth.
Colorado, known for its power at the plate, got back into it with small ball — five hits, four of them singles. Lucroy’s two-out RBI double followed by pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista’s run-scoring single made it 6-4, and Greinke was finished. He allowed four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings.
“We know how tough these guys are. We play ’em all the time,” Goldschmidt said. “Every time we scored, we just said, ‘We’ve got to get more, we’ve got to get more.'”
Left-hander Robbie Ray, a 15-game winner during the regular season, came on for his first relief appearance in three years and threw two shutout innings before giving up a leadoff double to Lucroy just below the home run line in straightaway center in the seventh. Lucroy went to third on a wild pitch before Ray fanned Ian Desmond.
Lovullo replaced Ray with another lefty, ex-Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, to face NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon, who dragged a bunt that brought Lucroy home and cut the lead 6-5.
“That was a crazy game from the beginning all the way to the end,” said longtime Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who can become a free agent this fall. “Not a lot of people counted in the Rockies when we first started the season. We put ourselves in this position. We came so close.”
The 25-year-old Gray was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his previous five starts, but the Diamondbacks were up 3-0 on him before a good share of the 48,803 in the stands settled into their seats. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings.
“It was tough, tough emotionally,” Gray said. “I really want to be good for the guys behind me. It is a really big situation, really a big game.”
The previous pitcher to hit a postseason triple was Dontrelle Willis for the Marlins in 2003.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
There was a moment of silence for victims of the Las Vegas shooting, and a photo was shown on the big screen of one of them, Christiana Duarte, a University of Arizona graduate and former member of the Diamondbacks front office.
Rockies: Will be back in Arizona to open the 2018 season on March 29.
Diamondbacks: The Dodgers had the best record in baseball at 104-58 but went 8-11 against Arizona.
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