D-backs doomed by inexplicable miscue

Distracted middle infielders allow injured runner to limp home with go-ahead run

June 23rd, 2021

PHOENIX -- It was one of those plays you rarely see, but somehow it fit perfectly into the way this season has gone for the D-backs. It was inexplicable, frustrating and hard to explain.

The D-backs fell to the Brewers, 5-0, on Tuesday night at Chase Field, dissipating any momentum from Monday night's losing-streak-snapping win. Milwaukee starter Freddy Peralta was brilliant and the Arizona offense struggled mightily, but the most-watched replay will no doubt be a play in the sixth inning.

Brewers first baseman Daniel Vogelbach reached on an error by second baseman Josh Rojas and after he advanced to second base with two outs, Omar Narváez singled to center.

Center fielder Pavin Smith picked up the ball in center and everyone assumed Vogelbach would score easily, but as he rounded third, Vogelbach pulled his left hamstring and started hobbling.

Rojas cut the ball off and tossed it to shortstop Nick Ahmed with neither of them seeing that Vogelbach was still struggling to get to the plate.

Catcher Daulton Varsho and reliever Stefan Crichton, who was backing up home plate, were both yelling as was the D-backs dugout, but Ahmed and Rojas could not hear them.

So instead of retiring Vogelbach for the third out, he scored and the Brewers tacked on two more in the frame to put the game out of reach.

"They have middle-infield responsibilities in that situation," manager Torey Lovullo said. "To keep their head on a swivel and communicate with one another. One is the eyes and one is going to handle the baseball. I know that Daulton Varsho was doing his best to be vocal and let people know what was going on. Unfortunately, we didn't execute and take advantage of a situation where we could have saved a run."

Part of the confusion was that Vogelbach had veered wide during his turn of third so he was not in the traditional baseline.

Ahmed had watched Vogelbach touch third and assumed he was well on his way to scoring when he turned his attention to the other two runners, one of whom was heading into third and the other rounding first.

"Weird stuff happens all the time in this game," Ahmed said. "And I've played it long enough to know now there's something new you're going to see maybe every day and you try to be ready for everything and prepare the best you can and that's what I do each and every day. But I've never once taken a cut and relay and practiced for the guy pulling his hammy and being 30 feet outside the baseline. It's just never happened. So I'm just going to laugh about it. There's nothing I could have done differently."

Ahmed and Rojas could not hear anyone yelling because the crowd was roaring at that time after seeing Vogelbach pull up lame.

"The crowd just got pretty loud," Varsho said. "Everybody was trying to scream and it was just a miscommunication. That's what it comes down to and it sucked that it kind of hurt us a little bit and gave them a little momentum."

The D-backs had snapped a 17-game losing streak Monday and have now lost 18 of their last 19 games and 32 of 35.

"I can't explain it," Lovullo said of this stretch of games.

What happened during the sixth inning Tuesday certainly fell into that category as well.