Untimely Ryan Braun plunking backfires against Diamondbacks
The Unwritten Rules blew up in the Diamondbacks' faces on Tuesday night in grand fashion.
Quite simply, Arizona picked a particularly poor time to Make A Statement about what's acceptable on the diamond. In the seventh inning of their game against the Brewers, the Diamondbacks were clinging to a 4-3 lead with runners on second and third and one out. Reliever Evan Marshall then proceeded to hit Ryan Braun with a pitch that was almost certainly intentional.
Determining intent isn't easy, of course, but the Diamondbacks were worked up -- perhaps understandably so -- over Brewers starter Kyle Lohse hitting both Didi Gregorious and Chris Owings earlier in the game. They might have gotten away with retaliation had it been more subtle, but Marshall first threw behind Braun, then plunked him in the left hip with his next pitch, whereupon he was tossed by home plate umpire Ted Barrett. That beaning loaded the bases, and Marshall departed to a standing ovation, one that included a rather gleeful Kirk Gibson, who fist-bumped his ejected reliever (h/t to ChadMoriyama for yet another clutch GIF):
Gibson has been particularly critical of Braun in the past due to his belief that the Brewers' 2011 division series victory over his Diamondbacks was fueled by the slugger's as-yet-undetected use of performance-enhancing drugs. Braun's positive test, the one whose result was overturned by an arbitrator in early 2012 because his sample was improperly handled, came after Game 1 of that matchup.
Alas, choosing to load the bases in the late innings of a one-run game is a dumb time to try to exact revenge, whether it was Marshall acting alone in an effort to curry favor with his manager and teammates -- in which case, mission accomplished -- or following Gibson's ill-considered orders in a high-leverage spot. Reliever Brad Ziegler came on in relief of Marshall, and on his first pitch, he served up a grand slam to Jonathan Lucroy, who had hit a solo homer in his previous bat as well:
[mlbvideo id="33814769" width="600" height="336" /]the arrival of Tony La Russa