NL: How the Game 5s were forced

If a team hits four home runs in the middle of the night, does anyone see them? The Diamondbacks did just that Wednesday night and beat the Brewers 10-6 in a game that didn’t end till nearly 1 a.m. Eastern time Thursday; their series was the last of three to need a Game 5.

All of a sudden, the Brewers’ decision to start homegrown Yovani Gallardo in Game 1 instead of 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, imported from Kansas City, has real consequences. Their season depends on it.

The D’backs are one of the year’s most interesting stories. They turned over their entire infield from 2010, three-quarters of it after 2011 had started.

  • Paul Goldschmidt, in Class AA in July, took over first base from Xavier Nady and Juan Miranda, and knocked in 26 runs in 156 at-bats. In the postseason he’s knocked in 6 and homered twice.
  • The D’backs jettisoned second baseman Kelly Johnson almost five months into the season and dealt him for Aaron Hill, who was having an even worse season. Hill batted .315 in the last five weeks for the D’backs, and is at .357 in the postseason.
  • Shortstop Stephen Drew was lost to injury midway through the season; utility man Willie Bloomquist replaced him and hit .266 and stole 20 bases. If you know Bloomquist, it could have been worse.
  • Third baseman Ryan Roberts became a regular for the first time at age 31 and hit almost as many home runs as he has tattoos. Nineteen of Roberts’ 29 career home runs were hit this year.

Inertia was never the D’backs problem. Pitching was, and the key man to fixing it was Edwin Jackson. He accompanied Game 5 starter Ian Kennedy to Arizona in the three-way deal with the Yankees and Detroit, then was dealt to the White Sox for Daniel Hudson, the D’backs’ No. 2.

Eventually Jackson made his way to St. Louis, where he was Wednesday’s Game 4 winner. Jackson has been with 6 big-league teams, 7 if you count Toronto acquiring him only to flip him, but he’s helped none so much as the D’backs, and that by leaving.

There’s nothing fluky about the D’backs forcing a Game 5: they won just two fewer games than the Brewers in the regular season, their run differential was +69 to the Brewers’ +83 and they had a winning road record (Milwaukee did not). A Game 5 loss for the D’backs wouldn’t be calamitous because most of their key players — Justin Upton, Goldschmidt, Kennedy, Hudson, Drew, Chris Young, Miguel Montero — are young and not free to leave.

But a Game 5 loss would be crushing to the Brewers, who have invested so much in 2011 because they stand to lose much (Prince Fielder) when it ends.

In other games:

Cardinals vs. Phillies: The 102-win Phillies were pushed to a Game 5 because the Cardinals’ home-grown David Freese, doubled, homered and knocked in four runs; the Phillies’ St. Louis-born Ryan Howard was 0-for-4 with 3 strikeouts and 3 runners left on. This continues a disturbing trend for Howard and the Phillies: since his Game 1 home run, he’s 1-for-12 with 6 strikeouts and 11 runners left on. Howard won’t get an at-bat Friday vs. anything other than a lefty in the late innings, and he’s 0-6 with 4 strikeouts vs. them.

The Phillies have scored but 10 runs in the three games since they splurged for 11 in Game 1. Roy Halladay may not need many, and he isn’t likely to get them, either, since the off day allows Cardinals’ ace Chris Carpenter to start.

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