Ender Inciarte plated the Braves’ fifth run – one that’d prove the difference – Saturday night with a triple in extras. In the bottom of the 10th, Dansby Swanson fired a rocket to home plate that ended the game.
The Braves defeated the Diamondbacks, 5-4, in a postseason-worthy thriller Saturday. But that was a microcosm of the Braves’ superior victory. One that the Braves remain thankful for years later, while the Diamondbacks try to push it further from their minds.
In 2015, Arizona parted ways with Swanson and Inciarte in a trade that brought Shelby Miller to the desert. Miller has produced a 6.39 ERA over 28 games with Arizona, with poor performance even less relevant than his inability to stay healthy.
So as Inciarte and Swanson combined to deliver the dagger Saturday, the Diamondbacks got a glimpse of what might’ve been. Meanwhile, Miller continued his rehab, throwing off flat ground from 125 feet.
“(The trade) is going to be attached to both of us,” Swanson said. “Just to be able to make a play like that I’d be excited, with whoever we’re playing. But at times it can feel a little extra sweet.”
The Diamondbacks selected Swanson No. 1 overall. Typically a player taken so high would be an immovable pillar for the organization. He was not only a college product, but one from Vanderbilt, a school with a strong history of producing major leaguers who ascended the minors at a speedy pace.
Arizona traded him within a year. Swanson never got the chance to cement himself as part of their foundation. Former general manager Dave Stewart never exhibited an inch of patience. His trade has already gone down in history as the prime example of a GM acting foolishly in trying to convert undeveloped assets into win-now commodities.
The Diamondbacks have since been to the postseason once – last season, after Stewart and company were jettisoned – and they were swept away by the Dodgers. The Braves reaped the benefits of the previous regime’s irresponsibility.
“They’ve been a big part of the reason we are where we are,” manager Brian Snitker said. “Ender’s had a really good second half, played great. And Dansby, three weeks ago took a really good turn for the better offensively too.”
To its credit, Arizona is past the trade. There’s strong leadership throughout the organization, a powerful nucleus of talent, and the team might make the postseason for a second straight year.
But that deal isn’t forgotten. Swanson and Inciarte will make sure of it. And with the way the standings are trending, if the Diamondbacks and Braves win their respective divisions, that storyline will trickle into the postseason.
Though certainly not in the way either team expected when consummating that trade three years ago.
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