FOX Sports MLB Analyst
PHILADELPHIA — Irrational belief is a powerful beast.
Three weeks ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks entered the playoffs with 84 wins, two reliable starting pitchers, a four-game losing streak, a rookie catcher and a distant dream. Turns out all they needed was a chance.
On Tuesday night, Arizona did the improbable, the outrageous, the unbelievable, beating the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 in Game 7 of the NLCS. They will fly to Dallas Wednesday morning to prepare for Friday’s World Series opener (8:03 p.m. on FOX and the FOX Sports app) against the Texas Rangers. This is a real sentence that you just read.
And although the finale was tense — Bryce Harper and Trea Turner both came to the plate to tip off the seventh — the result was definitive. The visitors dominated their hosts for the second consecutive evening. The weirdos at Citizens Bank Park turned up the volume. The Diamondbacks barely noticed.
Call it a fluke, a flash in the pan, this Arizona freight train doesn’t care. The D-backs have a National League championship trophy to show you. Do they know that the Brewers, Dodgers and Phillies – all defeated by the Snakes – were superior ballclubs this regular season? Certainly. But the playoffs are not an exercise in truth.
It’s a month of draws, moods, hot streaks, fear, momentum, frustration and confidence. A tournament meant to entertain and exhilarate. It’s rare that the best team wins. Any sign of doubt, the slightest hint of insult, becomes instant motivational fuel. Over the past three weeks, the 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks have fully understood this reality and manifested it in a World Series appearance.
“When you can prove some people wrong – and we’re all walking around with chips on our shoulders, and I guarantee everyone in this room has been told by someone that they couldn’t do something, and that led (us) on this path to being great,” skipper Torey Lovullo said in his pregame statement.
Arizona opened the scoring early in Game 7, thanks to two hits in the first inning from Corbin Carroll and Gabriel Moreno. After a magnificently good debut season in which he smashed 25 home runs and stole 54 bases, Carroll had been kept quiet the entire Series by Philadelphia’s pitchers. He exploded into life at the perfect time, blasting his way to three hits, two runs, two steals and an RBI sac fly.
D-backs’ Corbin Carroll and Gabriel Moreno hit back-to-back RBI singles
And even though the Phillies fought back with a game-tying homer from Alec Bohm in the second and an RBI double from Bryson Stott in the fourth, another Arizona rookie kept things close. Starter Brandon Pfaadt wasn’t as dominant as in Game 3, but delivered four two-run innings in a very good performance. With runners on the corners and an out after Stott’s hit in the fourth, Pfaadt stripped bare to escape the jam.
An inning later, the Heart D-backs regained the lead with back-to-back RBI singles from Carroll and Moreno. That would more or less be the end. After a sack by Carroll in the seventh made it 4-2, reliever Kevin Ginkel induced outs of Harper and Turner with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Philadelphia posed little threat otherwise.
Arizona’s suddenly immaculate bullpen locked things down again, with Joe Mantiply, Ryan Thompson, Andrew Saalfrank, Ginkel and closer Paul Sewald combining for five scoreless innings.
After being outplayed in the first two games in Philadelphia, these D-backs had no reason to believe they could go to Citizens Bank Park, the most hostile venue in baseball, and win back-to-back games against an undefeated club. at home in the playoffs. . The Phillies were an unstoppable October machine, the Diamondbacks an undermanned assortment of misfit toys. But for the latter, there are more games to play.
Jake Mintzthe stronger half of @CespedesBBQ is a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He played college baseball, poorly at first, then very well, very briefly. Jake lives in New York where he coaches Little League and rides his bike, sometimes at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Mintz.
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