June 22nd, 2024

Diamondbacks stun Phillies 4-2 in Game 7 of NLCS to reach first World Series in 22 years

By Dan Gelston, The Associated Press on October 24, 2023.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Corbin Carroll went 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and the Arizona Diamondbacks advanced to the World Series for the first time in 22 years Tuesday night by stunning the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series.

Arizona will play the Texas Rangers in an all-wild card World Series no one saw coming, with Game 1 set for Friday night at Globe Life Field.

In their only other trip to the Fall Classic, the Diamondbacks won a seven-game thriller against the New York Yankees in 2001.

The young Diamondbacks, who at 84-78 squeezed into the playoffs as the final NL wild card, completed their comeback from an 0-2 hole in the NLCS. They won Games 6 and 7 in Philadelphia, where the defending National League champions had been 12-2 over the past two postseasons – including 11-0 in NL playoff games.

“I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again: A connected team is a very dangerous team,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “No matter what happened in those times of crisis, these guys stuck together.”

Brandon Pfaadt struck out seven in four innings and five relievers combined to pitch their way out of late-inning jams for the surprising NL pennant winners.

Bryce Harper and the rest of the Phillies are forced to ponder this offseason how they let a second straight World Series trip slip away. Philadelphia returned home one win from another pennant but couldn’t close it out, falling behind early in Game 6 and then losing the first Game 7 in the 141-year history of the franchise.

Kevin Ginkel, the fourth reliever for Arizona, showed his mettle with an absolutely gutsy performance in the seventh. After left-hander Andrew Saalfrank walked consecutive batters with one out, Ginkel entered and retired Trea Turner and Harper on flyouts to center field.

Ginkel then struck out all three batters in the eighth, and Paul Sewald pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save this postseason.

With that, Arizona’s bullpen slammed the door on Philadelphia’s powerful lineup – and shushed Phillies fans who were left weeping on their own.

“We just, we did it! That’s all I can say,” said Carroll, the frontrunner for NL Rookie of the Year. “Just believe in each other, believe in our guys. We know what we have in that clubhouse, and it’s special. We’ve known it all year.”

Again, the Diamondbacks struck first when Christian Walker grounded into a fielder’s choice against Phillies starter Ranger Suárez in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. It may have seemed like a rather innocuous run. But Arizona was already 5-0 this postseason when it scored first and the run – much as the Diamondbacks did with a three-run second in Game 6 – deflated a boisterous crowd that came prepped for a clinch.

Well, Phillies fans did see one.

Just not the pennant winner they paid to watch at Citizens Bank Park.

Pfaadt, who struck out nine in Game 3, allowed Alec Bohm’s tying solo homer in the second that put a jolt in the crowd a needed one into the offense. Bohm pointed to his ring finger – symbolizing the World Series bling he wanted to win.

Bohm was at it again in the fourth when he walked and scored on Bryson Stott’s double for a 2-1 lead.

But the free-swinging Phillies let prime opportunities go to waste. With runners on the corners, Nick Castellanos struck out – at that point, 0 for 21 with 11 strikeouts since a Game 1 homer – and, after a walk to Brandon Marsh, Johan Rojas struck out to end the fourth.

Manager Rob Thomson had few pinch-hitting options for Rojas, so he let the light-hitting center fielder take his cuts and promptly fall to 3 for 22 in the NLCS.

Pfaadt’s strikeout let the Diamondbacks exhale.

Suárez struck out Ketel Marte for the third straight time in the fifth to make it two outs and a runner on second. Carroll – just 3 for 23 in the first six games of the series – grounded an RBI single up the middle for his third hit of Game 7. Suárez was replaced by Jeff Hoffman, and Carroll stole second before 23-year-old catcher Gabriel Moreno made it 3-2 with another single.

Pfaadt had done his part and the rookie righty who went just 3-9 this year kept Arizona – which swept the division champion Brewers and Dodgers to reach the NLCS – in position for one of its biggest wins in team history.

“He knows when he is the center of the moment,” Lovullo said ahead of Game 7. “I think he’s used to that.”

Carroll tacked on a sacrifice fly in the seventh for a 4-2 lead, and the Diamondbacks never looked back.

By the time the Phillies broke the in-case-of-emergency on ace Zack Wheeler in the seventh, it was too late. The Phillies team that bashed homers at a record pace against Miami and Atlanta never cashed in on the big hits back home.

FEELING LOOSE

Lovullo said he saw a loose Diamondbacks team in the clubhouse before the game that came ready to win.

“They’re on their phones, checking what they want to check,” Lovullo said. “There’s different conversations, groups of two or three. They’re in the food room eating their Philly cheesesteaks. A couple guys are playing games. So it’s very typical.”

HOME COOKED

After winning their first six home postseason games this year, the Phillies dropped the last two and fell to 28-13 in the postseason at Citizens Bank Park.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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