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D-backs News

Lovullo goes all-in to win Wild Card Game

October 5, 2017

PHOENIX -- In a winner-takes-all National League Wild Card Game, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo decided he was going for it all, no matter how that might affect his team if it won and advanced to an NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile against the Dodgers tonight at Dodger Stadium.• NLDS

PHOENIX -- In a winner-takes-all National League Wild Card Game, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo decided he was going for it all, no matter how that might affect his team if it won and advanced to an NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile against the Dodgers tonight at Dodger Stadium.
NLDS Game 1: Tonight, 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m PT and MST on TBS
To get to a crazy 11-8 win over the Rockies at Chase Field on Wednesday night, Lovullo wound up burning his two best starters -- Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray.
:: NL Wild Card Game coverage ::
That leaves Lovullo with a few options in Games 1 and 2 at Dodger Stadium on Friday and Saturday. But neither of them really are Ray and Greinke.
Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley are the candidates. Greinke and Ray threw 58 and 34 pitches, respectively, to get Arizona by Colorado. The D-backs should be available at full strength when the best-of-five series returns to Chase Field next Monday and possibly Tuesday.
Lovullo said he may have some answers before his team works out at Dodger Stadium late Thursday afternoon. Maybe not.
"It's too hard to say right now. I haven't really gotten that far," Lovullo said after the game Wednesday, a big beaming smile on his face, his gray T-shirt drenched with champagne. "I'm going to enjoy this moment and celebrate with my family.
"We have a couple of candidates. They're obvious. We haven't totally walked through that yet. But we're going to get a few conversations going in the right direction. We're going to go back to the drawing board and come up with the best solution and best options possible. And I'm sure we'll announce that as soon as possible."

Meanwhile, the 104-win Dodgers are rested and waiting, with left-handers Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill slated to start the first two games.
That's the net result of Los Angeles winning the NL West by 11 games over Arizona, which won 93.
There's a lot of talk about how unfair the single-elimination Wild Card Games are. But consider those berths a consolation. If the losers don't like it, win the division and earn a Wild Card bye.
Desperation is the nature of these games. And the one played out to almost four hours here Wednesday was one for the ages.
Greinke was pummeled in the fourth inning and earned a quick hook as a 6-0 lead over the Rockies evaporated to 6-4. And Ray was given the ball to hold off Colorado's potent offense for nearly three middle innings, putting the game in the hands of relievers Archie Bradley and Fernando Rodney at the end.

It was a what-if strategy developed by Lovullo much like Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to paste together to beat the Twins in the American League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium after starter Luis Severino couldn't make it out of the first inning. Reliever Chad Green struck out a pair of Minnesota batters with runners on second and third to end that threat. It rolled from there.
And like the D-backs, the Yanks' starting pitching is in a bit of disarray going into a best-of-five ALDS presented by Doosan against the Indians opening Thursday in Cleveland.
"What Joe did was amazing," Lovullo said. "He figured out the flow, the tempo and the rhythm of the game. He probably was responsible for the outcome of that game. The players played, but he made a tremendous decision, and that's having a feel for the team and a feel for the guys. I'm going to let something like that guide me, too."
Thus, Lovullo didn't wait a moment when Greinke allowed four bleeding singles and a double in the fourth. Suddenly, a six-run lead had dwindled to two with the tying runs on base. In came Andrew Chafin to get the last out on a Charlie Blackmon bloop that center fielder A.J. Pollock saved, sprinting in to make a lunging, diving catch that was a big element in saving the win.

"In this game, it was my mindset and strategy to try to cut off moments," Lovullo said about lifting his staff ace. "And this ballclub here, the Rockies, can really turn innings sideways in a hurry. I felt like they were starting to get their motor running. I wanted to turn off that moment, and I felt the best option was to get Zack out of the game at that point. Then we'd reload and figure out what to do the next thing."
That reload was Ray coming out of the bullpen, even though he would have been the obvious choice to open the NLDS. Arizona had four starters on the 25-man Wild Card Game roster: Greinke, Ray, Corbin and Godley. But Ray was the team's best starter at times this season and was the obvious option.

The decision seemed prescient when Ray started the fifth by striking out the first two batters. He was lifted after whiffing Ian Desmond with a runner on third for the first out of the seventh.
"Yeah, this was an all-in moment," Lovullo said. "I felt like [Ray] was the best guy to get us to the back end of the bullpen. I felt like if things didn't go our way and we needed to maneuver in extra innings, we'd have some pieces left. It's not a time where you need to save pieces and you just manage differently. I felt like Robbie was the best option for us. And he did enough to get us to that moment where Archie took over."
Now that all-in moment is over. The D-backs have a Dodgers team ahead of them they've beaten 11 out of 19 times this season. But this time they find themselves scrambling.
Who will be on the mound for Arizona on Friday and Saturday? Stay tuned.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.