December 7, 2022

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'It was a clunker': Lovullo wants to copy Cards' game plan

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ST. LOUIS — Fresh off taking two of three from the Dodgers at home, the D-backs arrived at Busch Stadium on Thursday feeling pretty good about themselves.

Two innings in, they were down five runs and they trailed by eight after six frames.

“It was a clunker,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We didn’t come out and do what I wanted us to do, nor I’m sure what anybody in that clubhouse expected us to do.”

The D-backs did manage to get the tying run to the on-deck circle in the ninth and make the final score a bit more respectable at 8-3, but it was not a game they were going to want to hang onto.

“Try not to think about it moving forward,” first baseman Pavin Smith said. “Just like individual guys need to flush their performances I think we need to do that as a whole.”

One thing they will want to remember is how the Cardinals played, because it’s the style of baseball that Lovullo wants to see from his own squad — aggressive heads-up baserunning and solid fundamentals.

“The Cardinals came out and made a statement,” Lovullo said. “They ran the bases very aggressively, and I think we got sucker punched and it took us four or five innings to get into the flow of this game. So hopefully that will be a catalyst for a good response and we make sure that we’re ready to go and play some baseball.”

From the first inning, the Cardinals showed they would be aggressive, and it was a familiar face that set the tone.

Former D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was on first when Nolan Arenado hit a ball to the hole at short. Nick Ahmed made a nice play to field the ball, but when he tried to make an off-balance throw to first, Goldschmidt alertly rounded second and made it to third while Arenado beat the throw at first.

Goldschmidt then scored on a sacrifice fly.

“I think Nick’s trying to make a play and Goldy with his head down made a great baserunning move,” Lovullo said. “I’ve seen him do that 1,000 times.”

Even Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, not known for his speed, managed to catch the D-backs napping a bit as he got an aggressive lead and stole second in the sixth inning.

The Cardinals managed 15 hits, all of them singles, but they made the most of them by moving runners along, stealing a pair of bases and doing a nice job of situational hitting.

“We knew exactly what their game plan was going to be and they still did it,” Lovullo said. “I think the thing that stood out to me more than anything was the way they ran the bases on some infield base hits while the ball was in play. That to me made a statement in the first couple of innings, and I felt that. But we were very well aware of what their manager likes to do, what he’s been talking to them about and what he believes in. And we just couldn’t [stop it].”

Maybe not, but they could imitate it going forward.

“I think it’s a carbon copy of what we want to do,” Lovullo said. “It’s tough to watch when somebody’s doing it to you. We’ll get the worm to turn tomorrow.”

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