The Arizona Diamondbacks have vowed not to accept defeat gracefully.
They believed that it would take more than just one stellar, clutch pitching performance to turn the tide. But on Thursday afternoon, they proved themselves right, as they secured a thrilling 2-1 walk-off win against the Philadelphia Phillies, courtesy of Ketel Marte’s heroics.
This victory marked the Diamondbacks’ first National League Championship Series win since 2001, the same year they clinched their only World Series championship. Suddenly, the D-backs find themselves alive in the NLCS, trailing the series 2-1, and they have confidence they can turn the tables.
In Game 4, the D-backs will turn to a bullpen game against Christopher Sanchez, and in Games 5 and 6, they’ll have their co-stars, Zack Gallen and Merrill Kelly, join the action.
The early showdown between Brandon Pfaadt and Ranger Suarez was a pitching duel to remember. The decision to turn to the bullpen was made, and a chess match ensued between D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and Phillies manager Rob Thomson.
Lovullo had prepared himself to lock horns with Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash indefinitely when he removed Pfaadt with just two outs in the sixth inning. It brought back memories of the 2020 World Series when Cash pulled out Blake Snell against the Los Angeles Dodgers, causing a big controversy.
The 25-year-old player was delivering his best performance of his career, allowing only two hits in his shutout innings when Lovullo decided to take him out.
The crowd of 47,075 erupted in applause, showing their wholehearted support for the D-backs, much like the 1949 Los Angeles Dodgers crowd that included Don Newcombe, who went down in history as the least experienced pitcher to dismiss at least nine batters after the season.
The Diamondbacks, trusting their fresh bullpen, watched the Phillies take the lead in the seventh inning when Andrew Saalfeld made Bryce Harper miss a pitch. It was Saalfeld’s second appearance against these three batters, taking the place of Ryan Thompson and welcoming Alek Bohm with an infield single.
Thompson induced a double-play grounder to first by Bryson Stott, but when it appeared that they might escape, he pushed a slider to the shortstop, allowing Harper to score the first run.
The D-backs, who were hitting just .083 when no one was on the plate except for Ketel Marte (5-for-11), responded to Phillies reliever Orion Kerkering when Tommy Fam got the first hit of the series. Pinch-runner Alek Thomas took his place and, using his speed, scored on a double by Ludres Gurriel in the left-field corner.
The D-backs had a golden opportunity to take the lead, with no outs in the first and third positions, but reliever Jose Alvarado came in and got three outs on three pitches, inducing a double-play ball and a bouncer to third and striking out Tim LoCastro.
While the Phillies’ sluggers made headlines, their pitching has been outstanding in the postseason, earning them a 1.39 ERA. Suarez matched Pfaadt with his impressive 5 ⅓ shutout innings, reducing his career ERA to 0.94, the lowest in playoff history, surpassing Sandy Koufax’s 0.95 ERA.
The Diamondbacks tied it up, but Josh Alvarado dodged the jam.
In the seventh inning, Arizona Diamondbacks’ Lourdes Guriel Jr.’s RBI doubled the score, tying the game at 1-1. Pavin Smith hit a single, but Gurriel was left on third, and Philadelphia Phillies’ lefty Josh Alvarado replaced Orion Kerkering.
With no outs, the Phillies pulled the infield in and Alvarado induced a 6-4-3 double play by Emmanuel Rivera, without scoring a runner on third. Geraldo Perdomo went out of the field to end the inning, and the Diamondbacks must have been frustrated not to score another run.
In the seventh inning, Philadelphia Phillies took a 1-0 lead on a wild pitch with two outs, scored by Bryce Harper, while J.T. Realmuto was at the plate.
Arizona Diamondbacks’ Andrew Saalfeld accused Harper of walking out of the game after he walked to start the inning.
He started strong, but both were out in the sixth.
Arizona Diamondbacks’ manager Torey Lovullo went to his bullpen with two outs in the sixth, putting the brakes on Brandon Pfaadt’s impressive performance against the NLCS Game 3 Philadelphia Phillies.
Pfaadt had faced the Phillies‘ lineup just twice so far. Rather than letting them face him for the third time, he went to the left-handed Andrew Saalfeld instead, comparing him to Philadelphia Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber. Saalfeld made Schwarber miss, but the fielder’s choice sent Trey Turner out of the field, matching the preference of the infielder.
The crowded chess field applauded this early move, which soon turned in Pfaadt’s favor when he stood up for Pfaadt, who quickly turned 18 out of 9 batters as he left Teale.
As for Suarez, he got into trouble in the sixth when Ketel Marte doubled with a lead. Then he included Corbin Carroll in a good first inning. As Bryson Stott fired a grounder for a catch, he got ahead of Harper, throwing Suarez to the forefront and throwing out Suarez from the side.