PHOENIX -- In Games 1 and 2 of the NL Division Series between the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks, intentional walks -- whether real or proposed -- factored prominently into both Milwaukee wins.
The trend continued as the series shifted to Arizona for Game 3 Tuesday, but roles were reversed as an intentional pass swung things in the Diamondbacks' favor and they avoided a sweep with an 8-1 win.
With Milwaukee down 3-1 and runners on first and third in the fifth inning, Shaun Marcum put Arizona catcher Miguel Montero on first base. Considering Montero was 2-for-2 with two RBIs already, the move seemed wise.
Four pitches later, it was a whole new ballgame. Rookie first baseman Paul Goldschmidt launched a 1-2 cutter over the right field wall for the first grand slam in Diamondbacks postseason history and the first in baseball by a rookie in 13 years.
Suddenly, the intentional walk could be scrutinized. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke knew it so he opened up his postgame press conference with the first question: "Before Goldschmidt went deep today, did you guys think that was the wrong move or the right move?"
"That's the dilemma that a manager has, and you (reporters) that have been with me know I don't like walking people," Roenicke said. "Here we go again.
"I think that was the right move. I still do. Do I like it? No."
Of course, had the Brewers chose to pitch to Montero, who was 0-for-8 in the first two games of the series, he just as easily could have doubled or tripled to cushion the Diamondbacks' lead. But just like Arizona manager Kirk Gibson's decision not to walk Fielder in the seventh inning of Game 1 that led to a two-run home run, the intentional walk comes into question.
"Pitching around people is difficult," Roenicke said. "Everybody thinks it's easy to do."
Roenicke has used the intentional walk sparingly this season. Brewers pitchers tied with the Diamondbacks' for the fewest intentional walks in the NL at 16, 25 fewer than any other team.
Clearly neither manager likes to give opponents a free base, but both have been bitten when using it in this series. In Game 2, Gibson decided to walk pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay to load the bases in the sixth inning. The Brewers would score four runs after the walk, all with two outs, to total five runs in the inning and an eventual 9-4 win.
"For both managers who dont like to do it and how it's hurt both of us, I'm surprised its come out like it has," Roencike said. "Again, sometimes you think you make the right moves and sometimes it doesn't work out."
Marcum said after the game he would have preferred to pitch to Montero, feeling confident he would have been able to make the hitter chase pitches out of the strike zone. But Brewers pitching coach Rick Kranitz came to the mound to deliver the decision.
"It wasn't my decision," Marcum said. "They came out and said we're going to put him on so that's pretty much what we did and it backfired on us a little bit."
As for Goldschmidt, who has just two months of major league service under his belt after an Aug. 1 debut, Marcum again felt confident as he typically does no matter who's standing in the batter's box.
"I was trying to make a pitch in and missed out over the plate," Marcum said. "That was a mistake pitch and that's what hitters are supposed to do with mistake pitches."
Said Roenicke of Goldschmidt: "I know the kid's got big hits, but Montero scares me. Montero's a really good hitter. There's not a lot of places you can go with him. Even when you make good pitches, he's got a chance to get a hit. That's not to say Goldschmidt isn't a good hitter, too. I think what he's doing so well is he's not missing mistakes."
The rout was certainly hard to take, but the Brewers remain confident given their 2-1 lead in the series. Consider that all 19 NL teams that have gone up 2-0 in a NLDS under the current playoff format implemented in 1995 have advanced and they have plenty of reason to be.
"It's not a do or die game Wednesday," Roenicke said. "We need to come out and play a solid game, but certainly not do or die."
In the clubhouse, more than one player still had a smile on his face. The atmosphere was quiet, but not glum and the Brewers deferred to their often-used line about forgetting losses quickly.
"We're a confident unit here," Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan said. "We just got beat tonight. It's just one of those things where we took a butt-whooping there, but we'll come back tomorrow and we'll be ready to go."