Winners and losers of NL Wild Card Game

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley after the NL Wild Card Game

We now know all eight LDS teams. The Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Colorado Rockies in the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday to advance to the NLDS to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

What looked like a blowout in the early innings turned in to a wild, back-and-forth affair between two division rivals. Picking winners and losers was from this one was not easy but in the end, we’ve done just that.

It was a game that featured four home runs but interestingly enough, none of the home run hitters are our winners. Interestingly enough, a pitcher who allowed two runs over 1.1 innings is one of our winners. Wednesday’s game was just that weird and did not follow conventional logic.

These are the biggest winners and losers from the NL Wild Card Game.

Winner: Archie Bradley

After the Diamondbacks jumped out to a 6-0 lead, the Rockies clawed back into the game, making it 6-5. Then Bradley, a relief pitcher, provided arguably the game’s biggest moment — as a hitter. With two on, Bradley set the baseball world on fire with a two-out, two-run triple. It was a truly stunning moment.

Bradley struggled in the top of the eighth, allowing consecutive Colorado home runs. But he knuckled down and got the final outs of the inning, getting Arizona to its half of the eighth with the lead. From there, the offense added some insurance runs and effectively ended the game.

Wednesday’s game was absolutely wild and had many heroes. But when when we think about this game in the future, Bradley will be the first man we think of.

That makes him the NL Wild Card Game’s No. 1 winner.

Loser: Bud Black

What made New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi so effective in the American League Game is that he recognized that his starter didn’t have it. There wasn’t enough time to do anything about the 3-0 lead that the Minnesota Twins jumped out to, but he didn’t let it compound. Luis Severino was gone after one-third of an inning.

Black couldn’t have done much to get Jon Gray out before Paul Goldschmidt’s first inning home run. But he should have gotten his starter shortly thereafter. That didn’t happen. Gray was left in the game and not taken out until allowing another run in the second.

These games are unlike essentially any baseball games. Managers have to be incredibly aggressive or the game will go south in a hurry.

To be fair, Colorado’s bullpen certainly didn’t dominate the game. So, Black going to the relievers earlier may not have yielded a different result. But it was obvious that his starter didn’t have it. Black had to take that chance.

Winner: David Peralta and Ketel Marte

Goldschmidt might seem like a more natural winner, but he actually missed on a few good RBI opportunities. With the help of the two men ahead of him in the lineup, he delivered on a big opportunity, early.

If you want to know where this game was won, look to the top of the order. Arizona’s first two hitters combined to go 6-for-10 with three runs scored.

When you’re facing a lineup as good as the Diamondbacks’, it’s awfully hard to win when you let the top two hitters repeatedly set the table. Peralta and Marte did that against the Rockies.

Their combined effort was one of the biggest reasons that this game went Arizona’s way.

Loser: Charlie Blackmon

Blackmon finished the day 0-for-4 with a strikeout, and he stranded four runners. Blackmon did drive in a run, but even that felt like a minor victory for the Diamondbacks. Trailing 6-4 with a man on third and one out, Blackmon dropped a bunt down.

To be fair, the play at first was very close and he was only out because the Arizona defense made a great play. But let’s think about this. Blackmon led the National League in hitting with a .331 average. He drove in 104 runs and hit 37 home runs.

If we had offered that very result to the Diamondbacks before the play, they would have had a hard time turning it down.

All in all, it was a rough game for the National League’s possible MVP.

Winner: Jake Lamb

The top of the Arizona order wasn’t the only part that made noise. Of Arizona’s 11 runs, only four were driven in by the top four hitters. The rest of the RBI all came from the five through nine spots in the Diamondbacks order. Lamb deserves the lion’s share of the credit for that.

Arizona’s fifth hitter set the table for the bottom part of the order. He was a thorn in the side of Colorado pitchers all game, going 4-for-5 with three runs scored. He scored on Bradley’s triple and previously on another one of the game’s biggest hits.

Lamb’s effort, combined with that of Peralta and Marte, had the Rockies’ pitchers working through traffic all night. That’s a hard strategy to beat, even when your offense puts up eight runs of its own.

Loser: Greg Holland

Immediately after Bradley’s dramatic triple, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story responded with home runs, cutting Arizona’s lead to one in the eighth. With a shut down inning, the Rockies would have had a good chance to at least tie it in the ninth.

But those chances went down in flames when Holland allowed two runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. That opened up a four-run lead and effectively ended the game.

It’s harsh, but the closer has to shut things down at that point. Holland, a veteran closer, is no stranger to the postseason, either.

But like so many Rockies pitchers on Wednesday, Holland had a tough game, leaving his team with no real chance to win the game in the ninth — even after scoring a run that would have been the tying run had Holland thrown a shutdown inning.

Winner: Baseball fans

We know that Joe Girardi wants these Wild Card Games to turn into a best-of-three series. And while we understand where he’s coming from, we’re not buying what he’s selling.

Baseball fans were just treated to two intense, back-and-forth, must-win games on consecutive nights. It’s a great way to whet our appetites for the rest of what’s to come in October.

Bud Selig had made some questionable moves during his tenure as commissioner. But giving credit where it’s due, the Wild Card Games have turned into absolute gems. They reward teams for winning their divisions and give the fans some real drama to look forward to during the first two games of the playoffs.

While the final scores won’t show it, we got two great ones in 2017. Realistically, as fans, we can’t ask for anything more than that.