2023 National League Championship Series

From BR Bullpen

2023 National League Championship Series
Arizona Diamondbacks logo
2023 National League Championship Series logo
Philadelphia Phillies logo
Arizona Diamondbacks
84 - 78 in the NL
4 - 3
Series Summary
Philadelphia Phillies
90 - 72 in the NL


The Teams[edit]




Carlos Torres was the reserve umpire for Game 1, moving into the rotation as home plate umpire in Game 2

Series results[edit]

Game Score Date Starters Time (ET)
1 Arizona Diamondbacks 3 Philadelphia Phillies 5 October 16 Zac Gallen (0-1) Zack Wheeler (1-0) 8:05 pm
2 Arizona Diamondbacks 0 Philadelphia Phillies 10 October 17 Merrill Kelly (0-1) Aaron Nola (1-0) 8:05 pm
3 Philadelphia Phillies 1 Arizona Diamondbacks 2 October 19 Ranger Suarez (0-0) Brandon Pfaadt (0-0) 5:05 pm
4 Philadelphia Phillies 5 Arizona Diamondbacks 6 October 20 Cristopher Sanchez (0-0) Joe Mantiply (0-0) 8:07 pm
5 Philadelphia Phillies 6 Arizona Diamondbacks 1 October 21 Zack Wheeler (2-0) Zac Gallen (0-2) 8:07 pm
6 Arizona Diamondbacks 5 Philadelphia Phillies 1 October 23 Merrill Kelly (1-1) Aaron Nola (1-1) 5:07 pm
7 Arizona Diamondbacks 4 Philadelphia Phillies 2 October 24 Brandon Pfaadt (0-0) Ranger Suarez (0-1) 8:03 pm


Game 1 @ Citizens Bank Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Diamondbacks 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 3 4 1
Phillies 2 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 x 5 9 1
WP: Zack Wheeler (1-0); LP: Zac Gallen (0-1); SV: Craig Kimbrel (1)
Home Runs: PHI - Kyle Schwarber (1), Bryce Harper (1), Nick Castellanos (1); ARI - Geraldo Perdomo (1)
  • Attendance: 45,396

Game 1 featured a battle of two aces names Zac(k), Zack Wheeler for the Phillies and Zac Gallen for the Diamondbacks, with the teams having gone a combined 10-1 so far this postseason. Something had to give and in the cauldron that was Citizens Bank Park, it was Gallen who faltered, giving up three long balls in the first two innings as Philadelphia took a commanding early lead and held on for a 5-3 win.

Corbin Carroll led off the game with a single for Arizona, but he did not advance further as Wheeler retired the next three batters in order. That set the tone for him, as he then rattled off 15 straight outs until the end of the 5th inning, by which time Philadelphia was fully in control of the game. Gallen was not so lucky: on his first pitch of the game, Kyle Schwarber, who was having a quiet postseason until then, hit a long homer to right for a quick 1-0 lead. Gallen retired Trea Turner on a line drive to right but Bryce Harper then took him deep as well, also on the first pitch of the at-bat, for a 2-0 score. In the 2nd, Philly was at it again, and this time it was Nick Castellanos who hit his fifth long ball in three games to make it 3-0. With one out in the 3rd, Turner hit the first non-home run hit for the Phils, a double to center and Harper followed with a single to make it 4-0. At this point, it looked like the game was a rout in the making, but Gallen managed to hang on, thanks to forcing J.T. Realmuto to hit into a double play to end that inning after he had loaded the bases by hitting Alec Bohm with a pitch and following that by a walk to Bryson Stott.

In the 4th, Brandon Marsh singled with one out and Johan Rojas followed with a double, but with the infield playing in, Schwarber hit the ball to 1B Christian Walker, who threw home to tag out Marsh. There were still two men on, but Turner then hit another grounder to end the inning as Philadelphia had now failed to capitalize on opportunities in two straight innings when it could have blown the game wide open. In the 5th, however, they made it 5-0 when Harper walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a single by Realmuto. At this point, Arizona had done nothing on offense since Carroll's lead-off single, but they would manage to take advantage of a tiring Wheeler to get back in the game. Evan Longoria led off the top of the 6th with a single and Geraldo Perdomo followed with a homer to right to cut the lead to 5-2. Kyle Nelson replaced Gallen in the bottom of the inning, the first of three second-tier D-Backs relievers to shut down the Phillies over their last three turns at bat. Meanwhile, Wheeler gave way to Seranthony Dominguez to start the 7th, but he gave the D-backs more hope when he walked Walker, then misplayed a comebacker by Gabriel Moreno, throwing the ball into centerfield, placing runners on the corners. Lourdes Gurriel then lined the ball to Stott at second base, who appeared to also have doubled off Moreno at first, but the Diamondbacks appealed and Moreno was called safe following the video review. Alek Thomas followed with a sacrifice fly to right, and the lead was cut further, to 5-3. With Pavin Smith announced into the game as a pinch-hitter for Longoria, Rob Thomson replied by calling on lefty José Alvarado to pitch, to which Bruce Bochy replied by replacing Smith with Emmanuel Rivera, who grounded out to end the inning. Alvarado stayed to pitch a scoreless 8th, setting the table for closer Craig Kimbrel for the 9th. Kimbrel allowed a one-out walk to Moreno, but then induced Gurriel to ground into a double play started by Bohm at third base, ending the game.

Game 2 @ Citizens Bank Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Diamondbacks 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Phillies 1 0 1 0 0 4 4 0 x 10 11 1
WP: Aaron Nola (1-0); LP: Merrill Kelly (0-1)
Home Runs: PHI - Trea Turner (1), Kyle Schwarber 2 (3)
  • Attendance: 45,412

Once again, the Phillies brought out the long ball to defeat the Diamondbacks in Game 2. Through five innings, the Phillies had only two hits against Merrill Kelly, but they were both solo homers, by Trea Turner and Kyle Schwarber, while Arizona had stranded the few baserunners it had managed to scratch up against Aaron Nola. The roof caved in in the 6th and 7th innings, when Philadelphia scored 8 runs, with another solo homer by Schwarber off Kelly, and six runs against two relievers, Joe Mantiply and Ryne Nelson, making the final score a 10-0 blowout.

For the first few innings though, the game was close, only punctuated by the two Philadelphia long balls. Once again, the Diamondbacks managed to put their first batter of the game on base when Corbin Carroll reached on an error when Turner misplayed his ground ball after it had taken a bounce off the pitcher's mound. However, as had been the case in Game 1, Carroll did not attempt a steal and watched from first base as the next three batters made outs. And almost in a copy of Game 1, the Phillies got on the board quickly: Schwarber was retired on a ground ball, but the next batter, Turner, atoned for his error by blasting one of Kelly's pitches into the left-centerfield stands for a 1-0 lead. Bryce Harper then walked, but after a second out, he was caught stealing to end the inning, and Kelly settled down for a stretch. 11 straight batters for both teams made outs in the 2nd and 3rd inning - until Schwarber came up for the second time with two outs and hit a homer to right field to make it 2-0.

Ketel Marte finally got the D-Backs' first hit when he led off the 4th with a single, but he was forced out when 3B Alec Bohm made one of several outstanding defensive plays on a grounder by Tommy Pham. After a second out, Gabriel Moreno singled, advancing Pham to second, but Nola got Lourdes Gurriel to hit a grounder to short to end the threat. After Kelly retired the Phils in order in the 4th, both teams had two hits - but the Phillies were leading, 2-0, given their two had been homers, and Arizona's singles. That pattern held in the 5th as well when all six batters were retired in order, and Nola ended his night's work with a scoreless 6th inning as well, working around Marte's one-out double. The Phillies then broke the game open in the bottom of the 6th. Schwarber led off with a huge homer that travelled some 420 feet into the upper deck in right field to make it 3-0. Kelly then walked Turner, but got Harper on strikes and forced Bohm to pop up for the second out. Next up was left-handed hitter Bryson Stott, and Torey Lovullo decided to play the percentages, bringing in lefty Joe Mantiply to face him. Not only did Mantiply fail in his mission - Stott collected the Phillies' first hit that wasn't a homer, putting runners on the corners - but he then actively fanned the budding fire. Stott immediately stole second base, even if he was trying to draw a throw to give Turner a chance to steal home, and J.T. Realmuto followed with a double, scoring both runners. Lovullo then asked for an intentional walk to Nick Castellanos to bring up Bohm, another lefty, but Mantiply failed again, allowing another double, and bringing home Realmuto. Mantiply finally got Johan Rojas, the ninth batter of the inning, to ground out, but the damage was irreversible: the Phillies had scored four runs and now led 6-0.

Jeff Hoffman replaced Nola and pitched a perfect top of the 7th, getting a pair of strikeouts, and the Phils went to work again against Mantiply in the bottom of the inning. A leadoff walk to Schwarber brought in Ryne Nelson, but he was just as ineffective as Mantiply had been. After one out, Harper singled and Bohm doubled, accounting for two more runs, then Stott and Realmuto both singled, making it 9-0, and Castellanos hit a sacrifice fly that plated a tenth run. After a walk to Brandon Marsh, Slade Cecconi came in to record the final out, but by then, the books were closed. The final two innings were played because they needed to be played, not because they could have had any impact on the final result. Matt Strahm and Orion Kerkering pitched an inning each as Rob Thomson was able to rest his trio of front-line relievers who had all pitched in Game 1, and there was no more scoring. It was going to be tough for Arizona to bounce back from such a beating.

Game 3 @ Chase Field[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Phillies 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 0
Diamondbacks 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 9 0
WP: Paul Sewald (1-0); LP: Craig Kimbrel (0-1)
Home Runs: none
  • Attendance: 47,075

Game 3 was a tense low-scoring affair, with the Diamondbacks finally scoring the deciding run in the bottom of the 9th to win, 2-1, after wasting a number of opportunities in the previous innings. Both teams had their third starters going, Ranger Suarez for Philadelphia and Brandon Pfaadt for Arizona, and neither gave up a run. In fact, in the good old days, the two would probably have continued dueling deep into the game, but this being the 2020s, they were both removed early and with a low pitch count even if it was hard to imagine any relievers doing better than they had. For the Diamondbacks, it was a must-win after their two losses in Philadelphia, and their lack of hitting in the series was a concern, which this win did not entirely erase as their batters were more notable for their inability to take advantage of opportunities than for the nine hits they eventually compiled: they should have won this game handily but instead turned it into a nail-biter by wasting almost all of their chances.

The first few innings were dominated by the two starting pitchers, as there was little action on the bases. Trea Turner did hit a one-out single in the 1st, but he was immediately erased on a double play grounder by Bryce Harper, while Ketel Marte led off the bottom of the inning by crushing a pitch at 115 mph but straight at 3B Alec Bohm, who threw him out easily. The few hits during that span resulted in stranded baserunners and by the end of the 5th inning, the 0-0 score was perfectly justified. In the top of the 6th, after Pfaadt had easily disposed of the first two batters, he was replaced by manager Torey Lovullo before he could face the top of the line-up a third time. This was the type of spreadsheet-based decision that had become popular in postseason series in recent years (see Game 6 of the 2020 World Series) even if such a decision, taken without regards for how well that day's starting pitcher was doing, had repeatedly blown up in teams' faces. In this case, Andrew Saalfrank did get the third out of the inning after walking Kyle Schwarber, but it meant that Arizona was deliberately turning the game to a bullpen crew that had struggled badly of late. Of course, Philadelphia did exactly the same thing, removing Suarez after he had given a lead-off double to Marte, who had then advanced to third on a ground out by Corbin Carroll. Jeff Hoffman also prevented the D-backs from scoring, striking out Gabriel Moreno and getting Christian Walker on a ground ball, and after six innings the game was still scoreless.

Both teams scored one run in the 7th, although in a very different manner. Harper led off with a walk against Saalfrank and was replaced by Ryan Thompson, who gave up an infield single to Bohm. Thompson then induced Bryson Stott to ground into a double play, but Harper advanced to third and he then scored on a wild pitch by Thompson. Arizona replied immediately when Tommy Pham singled off rookie Orion Kerkering and was replaced by pinch-runner Alek Thomas, who raced around the bases when Lourdes Gurriel followed with a double. Pinch-hitter Pavin Smith followed with a single, putting runners on the corners, and that was it for Kerkering, replaced by Luis Alvarado. He needed two pitches to get out of the jam: on the first one, Emmanuel Rivera grounded into a double play with Gurriel not even feinting a dash home, and in the second, Geraldo Perdomo grounded back to the pitcher to end the inning. The Diamondbacks had tied the score, but had wasted a tremendous opportunity to take the lead for the second straight inning. In the 8th, Kevin Ginkel retired the Phillies in order, but the D-Backs had another wasted opportunity. This time, Moreno doubled with two outs and Walker received an intentional walk, but Thomas grounded out to end the inning. In the 9th, closer Paul Sewald retired the Phillies even if he issued a semi-intentional walk to Harper with two outs. Then the Phillies' closer, Craig Kimbrel, came out for the 9th, but was in trouble from the get-go: he walked Gurriel, who then stole both his shirt and second base, and Smith followed with another single to place runners on the corners, reproducing the situation from the 7th inning. And the D-Backs almost blew it once again, even after Smith took second base on defensive indifference. Rivera hit the ball to Turner at short, Gurriel broke for home, but was thrown out on a close play (he actually avoided J.T. Realmuto's initial tag, but was tagged when he tried to turn around and touch the plate). Worse, Smith had stayed at second base for some reason. Rivera had apparently struck out on the pitch before, but on appeal, the third base umpire had blown the call, calling it a checked swing, but even if Kimbrel had recorded the strikeout, the outcome of the next pitch was actually worse for Arizona. Kimbrel then walked Perdomo to load the bases, and Marte finally delivered the big hit that hadn't come in the previous three innings, a weak single to center that scored Smith and ended the game.

Game 4 @ Chase Field[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Phillies 0 0 0 1 1 2 1 0 0 5 8 1
Diamondbacks 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 3 x 6 9 1
WP: Kevin Ginkel (1-0); LP: Craig Kimbrel (0-2); SV: Paul Sewald (1)
Home Runs: PHI - Kyle Schwarber (4); ARI - Alek Thomas (1)
  • Attendance: 47,806

When the probable pitchers were announced for Game 4, it was clear that this was going to be a game with a lot of pitching changes, and for the most part, the constant churning on the mound dictated the flow of the game. Short reliever Joe Mantiply was designated as the opener for the Diamondbacks, while Cristopher Sanchez, the Phillies' starter, was a starting pitcher by trade, but it had been so long since he had last pitched that it was unlikely he would go more than three innings. To add to the complexity of the scenario, the D-Backs had also decided that they wanted to maximize the use of their three available lefties - Mantiply, Kyle Nelson and Andrew Saalfrank - by having them face the Phils two most dangerous lefties, Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper, as often as possible. This is the sort of thing that can be drawn up on paper before the game, but, as these things usually do, these plans hit some serious snags when hit with the unpredictability of a baseball game played, thankfully, by human beings and not algorithms. Thus, a total of 16 pitchers took the mound in this game, but in the end, it was decided when, for the second straight game, Craig Kimbrel gave up some late runs and allowed the D-backs to pull victory from the jaws of defeat in dramatic fashion.

As mentioned, Mantiply was only there to throw the 1st inning and hopefully to dispose of Schwarber and Harper without harm, which he did by striking out Schwarber, picking Trea Turner off first base after a single and getting Harper to ground out. Sanchez did not give up anything in the 1st either, and Luis Frias came on to pitch the 2nd inning for Arizona, as planned all along. He retired all three batters he faced, the last on a very nice catch by Lourdes Gurriel in left field. The D-Backs then scored the first run on a lead-off walk to Christian Walker in the bottom of that inning followed after one out by a mental blunder by Sanchez: Gurriel hit a comebacker straight back to him and he had all the time in the world to start a double play, but he forgot that there was only one out and took his time to throw Gurriel out at first base, only realizing his mistake when he started jogging towards the dugout and his teammates pointed out that the inning was not over. Given a reprieve, Arizona cashed in its runner as Evan Longoria drew a walk and Emmanuel Rivera singled to center. After one out in the 3rd, with Frias having retired all four batters he had faced, Torey Lovullo replaced him with Nelson to face the lefty Brandon Marsh. He got the next two outs but would meet trouble in the 4th. Before that, though, the D-Backs doubled their lead with another run in the 3rd as Ketel Marte singled, took second on a wild pitch by Sanchez, and third on a ground out. That was it for Sanchez as well, who gave way to Jeff Hoffman, but the first man he faced, Gabriel Moreno, singled to right to drive in Marte.

As the 4th inning got under way, the Diamondbacks' plan was working perfectly, as they had a 2-0 lead and lefty Nelson about to face the top of the Phils order featuring its two big lefty bats. But the best laid plans and so on - Schwarber homered to right field, already his fourth long ball of the series, and the lead was cut to 2-1. Nelson did not even stay long enough to face Harper: he was immediately replaced by Miguel Castro who retired the next three batters. Arizona was still ahead, but like an old-timey gas guzzler, was burning through one pitcher per inning. Meanwhile, the Phillies' relievers did the job as they went down in order against Hoffman in the 4th. In the 5th, Castro gave up a one-out single to J.T. Realmuto, who moved to second on a ground out. Next up was Marsh, so, reflexively, Lovullo called on his third and final lefty, Saalfrank, to face him. And Robert Burns once again came into play as Marsh ignored the percentages, hitting a double over CF Corbin Carroll's head to tie the game. Johan Rojas was up next and crushed the first pitch down the third base line, but, thankfully for Saalfrank, right at Rivera who made the catch. Matt Strahm pitched the bottom of the 5th for Philly, getting three up and three down, and Saalfrank came back for the 6th even though he really had not given any indication that he was up to the task. He walked Schwarber, uncorked a wild pitch, then walked Turner as well, but still Lovullo left him in to face Harper - because lefty on lefty of course. Harper walked as well, loading the bases and leaving a fine mess for Ryan Thompson to sort out. With the infield playing in, Alec Bohm hit a high bouncer to third base. Rivera fielded it with a nice play, but his throw home bounced in front of Moreno and headed towards the backstop, and both Schwarber and Turner scored. The D-Backs caught a break when Bohm was too greedy, trying to advance to second and being thrown out. The play was ruled a hit and a throwing error, but really a decent throw by Rivera would have nailed the lead runner at home and given Arizona a change to escape with only minimal damage. The inning continued with a walk of Bryson Stott, who stole second base, but Thompson struck out Realmuto and got Nick Castellanos to ground out to escape any more runs. It was now 4-2 for Philadelphia, but it could have been a lot worse, and all thanks to Arizona's insistence on getting a favorable match-up against the lefties - no matter how badly their man was pitching.

The Diamondbacks had a chance to reply in the bottom of the 6th against Seranthony Dominguez as Moreno drew a lead-off walk and after one out, Pavin Smith, pinch-hitting for the ineffective Tommy Pham, singled to right. However, Dominguez retired the next two batters and the Phils added a fifth run in the 7th, on a triple by Rojas and a sacrifice fly by Turner. Things were looking really bleak for Arizona at this point, but they finally stirred in the bottom of the inning. After one out, Gregory Soto replaced Dominguez and gave up a single to Geraldo Perdomo and a walk to Marte. Carroll hit into a force out, and Rob Thomson changed pitchers again, bringing in youngster Orion Kerkering. He walked Moreno to load the bases and walked Walker as well to force in a run, making it 5-3, before getting Smith to ground out to first. The run was nice, but it felt like a missed opportunity to do more serious damage. Kevin Ginkel came on to pitch the 8th and gave up a lead-off single to Bohm, but got the next three batters to make outs. Thomson then made the fateful decision to call on his closer, Kimbrel, to pitch the 8th, even though he had struggled badly the night before. It was likely a ploy to have someone else, namely José Alvarado, handle the more important - in his mind - 9th inning, but it failed badly. Gurriel led off with a double and after a line out by Longoria, Alek Thomas was brought in as a pinch-hitter for Rivera. He hit a dramatic homer to center field, tying the score at 5-5. Kimbrel then struck out Perdomo but Marte singled and Carroll was hit by a pitch. That's when Alvarado came in, but he gave up a single to Moreno, and the D-Backs had the lead, 6-5. There were still three outs to be recorded, and closer Paul Sewald got the call from Lovullo. He struck out Marsh, then also Jake Cave, pinch-hitting for Rojas. Schwarber hit a double and gave way to a pinch-runner, putting the tying run in scoring position. However, Turner struck out swinging, ending the game. Arizona had come back from the dead to tie the series, and both teams headed into Game 5 hoping for a long outing from their starter, as both bullpens were now exhausted.

Game 5 @ Chase Field[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Phillies 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 6 9 0
Diamondbacks 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 8 2
WP: Zack Wheeler (2-0); LP: Zac Gallen (0-2)
Home Runs: PHI - Kyle Schwarber (5), Bryce Harper (2), J.T. Realmuto (1); ARI - Alek Thomas (2)
  • Attendance: 47,897

Both teams headed into Game 5 hoping to get a long outing from their starting pitcher after the previous day's parade of pitchers, and both did to some extent, as Zack Wheeler gave the Phils seven innings and Zac Gallen was on the mound for six. However, the difference was that Wheeler allowed just one run in his outing and did not show obvious signs of tiring as had been the case in his two previous postseason starts, while Gallen was touched for two flukish runs in the 1st, and then allowed two more when the Phils' big bats thundered in the 6th. That was the difference, as the Phillies never trailed and ended up rather comfortable winners by a 6-1 score. There were no changes to the Phillies' line-up, but Torey Lovullo inserted Alek Thomas, the pinch-hitting hero of Game 4, in the starting line-up in place of Tommy Pham, and Evan Longoria at third base in place of Emmanuel Rivera, opening up the DH spot for Pavin Smith.

The 1st inning was key to the game. Kyle Schwarber, one of the hardest hitters in the majors, barely grazed a ball with the tip of his bat, with an exit velocity recorded at 30 mph, but it was perfectly placed down the third base line and Longoria had no play. After a first out, Bryce Harper hit a more conventional single, moving Schwarber to second, but Alec Bohm popped up for out number two. Up came Bryson Stott, in a bit of a slump since his grand slam in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series, but this time he came through with a key hit, a single to right that scored Schwarber and advanced Harper to third. He then pulled off a daring play, starting a double steal to draw a throw from C Gabriel Moreno, at which point Harper broke for home; 2B Ketel Marte took the throw and relayed back immediately to Moreno, but his throw was wild as Harper crashed into the catcher who was lunging for the ball. When the dust settled, Harper had scored the second run, Stott was at third, and Moreno was uninjured although it had looked bad at first glance. Gallen then got J.T. Realmuto to ground out to end the inning, but the damage was done: Arizona would never be able to erase that early two-run deficit. The main reason for that was that Wheeler was outstanding after walking the first batter of the game, Corbin Carroll. Carroll advanced to second on a ground out by Marte, but when Moreno followed with a single to left, he initially returned to second base, thinking that SS Trea Turner would field the ball, and when it got past him, he had to stop at third base. From there, neither Christian Walker, who struck out, nor Smith, who grounded out to first, were able to drive him in.

There were few scoring opportunities after that as both pitchers settled down. Gallen recorded 11 straight outs after forcing Brandon Marsh to ground into a double play in the 2nd, and Wheeler only gave the Diamondbacks crumbs, with Carroll hitting a single in the 3rd but not advancing past first base, Lourdes Gurriel doing the same in the 4th and Geraldo Perdomo repeating in the 5th. But the 6th inning really put the game away. Schwarber led off with what was a much more typical hit for him, a monster home run that travelled 460 feet to right-center field, and after one out, Harper followed with an equally majestic blast, this one measured at 444 feet. It was now 4-0 and the Phillies were firmly in the driver's seat. Gallen then gave up a walk and a single, but was rescued from further hurt when Realmuto ended the inning by grounding into a double play. This was the point at which Wheeler had started to tire in his previous two starts, so there was some concern that it could happen again, especially after Walker hit a double with one out. A wild pitch advanced him to third, but as had been the case in the 1st, the D-Backs failed to cash in a runner from third base with less than two outs as Smith struck out and Gurriel flied out to center.

Miguel Castro replaced Gallen in the 7th and gave up a single to Brandon Marsh, who then stole second base, but he was stranded when Johan Rojas struck out, Schwarber was intentionally walked, and Turner hit a grounder back to the pitcher. Wheeler gave up his only run of the night when Thomas led off the bottom of the 7th with his second homer in two days. At 4-1, there was still hope for Arizona, but the homer had just been a blip: Wheeler finished his day's work by retiring the next three batters in order, leaving only six outs for his tired bullpen to get. The Phillies then made the relievers' work that much easier when they added two insurance runs in the top of the 8th,. Against yesterday's starting pitcher, Joe Mantiply, Harper reached on an error by Marte and with two outs, Realmuto greeted Luis Frias with a homer to left. The two runs were unearned for the team (although the second one was earned for Frias according to the peculiarities of the rule regarding earned runs), but they still counted, and made it almost impossible for the D-Backs to come back. Jeff Hoffman, pitching in his third straight game, gave up a lead-off single to Marte, but then retired the next three batters to take care of the 8th. In the 9th, Seranthony Dominguez got two quick outs before walking Longoria and allowing a single to Perdomo. That was the cue for Rob Thomson to call on lefty Matt Strahm to face Carroll, whom he struck out. The Phillies were headed back home with a three games to two lead and a return to the World Series in their sights.

Game 6 @ Citizens Bank Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Diamondbacks 0 3 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 5 10 0
Phillies 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 1
WP: Merrill Kelly (1-1); LP: Aaron Nola (1-1)
Home Runs: ARI - Tommy Pham (1), Lourdes Gurriel (1)
  • Attendance: 45,473

Game 6 was re-match of Game 2 on the mound, but this time, the Phillies were unable to hit any long balls against Merrill Kelly, while Austin Nola had his first rough start of the postseason, and the end result was a 5-1 win for Arizona, tying up the series and forcing a Game 7. Tommy Pham was back in the starting line-up for the D-Backs, after sitting out the previous game, while the Phillies kept their standard line-up unchanged. Nola had a straightforward 1st inning, only allowing a two-out single to Gabriel Moreno, but it was a lot tougher for Kelly. He walked the first batter he faced, Kyle Schwarber, then after getting Trea Turner on a fly out, walked Bryce Harper as well as he was clearly being careful with the two big lefty boppers who had been Philadelphia's most dangerous hitters to this point. He then struck out Alec Bohm and got Bryson Stott to pop up, escaping without giving up a run, but also using a lot of pitches.

The 2nd inning was key to the game's outcome. Nola was surprised by a homer by Pham, who hit it on a line drive to left, and before he had time to collect his thoughts, Lourdes Gurriel went deep as well, to a very similar spot, doubling the lead. The D-Backs then continued to pound as Alek Thomas drew a walk and Evan Longoria hit a double to left center, allowing Thomas to circle the bases for a third run. Nola was in deep trouble, but he managed to get the next three outs without allowing Longoria to score as well, even though he advanced to third on a fly out by Geraldo Perdomo. Longoria did not move when Corbin Carroll hit a grounder to first base, and Ketel Marte flied out as well. Giving up a three-spot was bad, but the Phillies could turn that into just a blip were they to quickly score a couple of their own. They got to work on Kelly when J.T. Realmuto hit a lead-off double, then after a first out, Brandon Marsh singled to drive him in, then took second when Carroll missed the cut-off man on his throw back from the outfield. Marsh advanced to third on a ground out by Johan Rojas, but like Longoria in the top half of the inning, he was stuck there as after a walk to Schwarber, Turner struck out. Both pitchers then settled down after that tough inning, giving up next to nothing in the 3rd and 4th innings.

The Diamondbacks scored an important insurance run in the 5th on a single by Carroll followed by a ball hit to the right field corner by Marte that took an unusual bounce and rolled along the fence out of Nick Castellanos' reach for a triple. But again, Arizona failed to cash in a runner from third with less than two outs: Michael Lorenzen took over for Nola and got Moreno to ground out to short, then after a walk to Christian Walker, who then stole second, struck out Pham. Lorenzen was quite impressive and it left one to wonder why he hadn't seen more use in the series. For his part, Kelly looked better than ever in retiring the Phillies in order in the bottom of the 5th and would have liked to continue, but Torey Lovullo decided that it was time for the bullpen to go to work. The strategy worked as Ryan Thompson got the next four outs, followed by two by Andrew Saalfrank, who seemed unaffected from his previous shaky outing. Meanwhile, the D-Backs added a fifth run by playing some small ball against Orion Kerkering in the 7th as Perdomo singled, stole second when Carroll struck out, and scored on another single by Marte. Marte in turn stole a base but Walker lined out to end the inning. Still, with a 5-1 lead, Arizona was clearly in command. Rob Thomson brought out Craig Kimbrel to pitch the 8th, wanting to show his closer some confidence after his two losses in the desert, and it worked as he only allowed a walk. Kevin Ginkel handled the 8th for Arizona, and closer Paul Sewald the 9th. By the time Sewald came out, the Phillies were already thinking about the next day and he made quick work of the three batters he faced, striking out Castellanos and Marsh to end the game. There would indeed be a Game 7.

Game 7 @ Citizens Bank Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Diamondbacks 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 4 11 0
Phillies 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 0
WP: Ryan Thompson (1-0); LP: Ranger Suarez (0-1); SV: Paul Sewald (2)
Home Runs: PHI - Alec Bohm (1)
  • Attendance: 45,397

The Diamondbacks continued their Cinderella story unabated, completing their upset of the Phillies with a 4-2 win in hostile territory in Game 7, in a game in which they played excellent fundamental baseball and hardly ever let their opponents build anything on offense. The key to the game was the performance of their bullpen, which limited the powerful Phillies' bats to just one hit over the final five innings, after another solid performance by rookie starter Brandon Pfaadt, who once again was allowed only two turns through the Phillies' line-up but kept the game close. His opponent was Ranger Suarez, whose postseason record over the last two years had been almost spotless, but this time the Diamondbacks were able to generate just enough offense against him to take a lead in the 5th, and nurse it until the end. After having pounded their opponents to a pulp with the long ball in their home ballpark in the first two rounds of the postseason, and in the first two games of this series, the Phillies were again unable to generate much excitement today, apart from a solo blast by Alec Bohm.

The Diamondbacks started the game on the right foot when Corbin Carroll hit a one-out single off Suarez in the 1st, advanced to third on a single by Gabriel Moreno because he got a running start on the play, and scored on a force out by Christian Walker. This was a good sign given how they had had difficulty cashing in runners in scoring position with less than two outs in previous games. Pfaadt then passed the dreaded test of the 1st inning by retiring the Phils in order, including striking out both Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper. In the 2nd, Lourdes Gurriel hit a lead-off single and stole second with one out, the first of four steals for Arizona on the night, continuing a return to their brand of baseball after they been stationary during the first five games. Suarez managed to strand Gurriel in place, and Bohm replied by hitting Pfaadt's first pitch of the bottom of the inning into the left field stands to tie the game at 1, but Pfaadt wasn't rocked, as he retired the next three men he faced. The next inning was scoreless although the D-Backs once again stranded a runner in scoring position in the 3rd - Carroll who had singled and stolen second just like Gurriel the inning before - while the Phillies got Brandon Marsh to second on a single and a sacrifice bunt by Johan Rojas, but he too was stranded. After Arizona had gone down in order in the top of the 4th, the Phillies had their best shot at putting up a crooked number when Bohm walked with one out in the 4th and Bryson Stott followed with a double that allowed him to score the go-ahead run. J.T. Realmuto followed with a single to left, but Gurriel charged the ball and threw quickly to third, forcing Stott to stay there. Pfaadt then struck out Nick Castellanos, who was hitless and had been visibly over-swinging since hitting a homer in his first at-bat of Game 1, then semi-intentionally walked Marsh to face Rojas, the weakest link in Philadelphia's line-up, with the bases loaded. With Joe Mantiply ready to enter the game, Rob Thomson faced the choice of having Rojas face Pfaadt, or a left-handed pinch-hitter like Jake Cave go up against the lefty Mantiply. He chose the first option, but Pfaadt completed his outing by striking out Rojas. The Phillies were up, 2-1, at this point.

Suarez was still in the game for Philadelphia as the 5th inning got under way, but he gave up a lead-off single to Emmanuel Rivera and Geraldo Perdomo followed with a textbook sacrifice bunt, moving him into scoring position with one out. Ketel Marte was up next and he struck out - one of four times he would do so in the game, but that would not prevent him from being named the winner of the NLCS MVP Award based on his other contributions. The next at-bat, by Carroll, was a key one, as the D-Backs had wasted countless opportunities to drive in runners from second and third base in previous games, but this time he came through, singling up the middle to tie the game. After Jeff Hoffman replaced Suarez on the mound, Carroll immediately stole second and scored on a single to right by Moreno. Seeing that there was a chance of a play at the plate, Moreno deliberately took a wide turn at first base, prompting the cut-off man to focus on him. He was caught between first and second for the third out, but not before the move had allowed Carroll to cross the plate unchallenged. Arizona was up, 3-2, with none of the runs having benefited from a hit longer than a single. Mantiply came out to start the 5th, with the top of the Phillies' line-up due up, and he immediately surrendered a double to Schwarber. But while it looked like Arizona's lead would be short-lived, this would in fact be the only hit against five D-Backs relievers over the final five innings: Trea Turner hit a grounder to Rivera at third, forcing Schwarber to stay put, Harper flied out to left, and against Ryan Thompson, Bohm popped up to end the inning with Schwarber still stuck on third base.

This was now a bullpen battle, with Hoffman handling the top of the 6th for Philly and allowing just a two-out single to Gurriel before striking out Evan Longoria, and Thompson getting the Phillies in order in the bottom of the frame. In the 7th, it was Jose Alvarado's turn to take the mound after a first out, but he gave up a single to Perdomo, followed by a key double by Marte, his fourth of the series. Carroll then drove a pitch to deep right field, caught by Castellanos but on which Perdomo scored easily to make the score 4-2. Not able to afford giving up any other runs at this point, Thomson turned to his best available pitcher, starter Zack Wheeler who made the first relief appearance of his career to strike out Moreno to end the inning. Young Andrew Saalfrank took the mound for Arizona in the 7th, and his see-saw string of performances continued, as the minimum three batters he faced resulted in a strikeout of Marsh, a walk to pinch-hitter Cristian Pache and another walk to Schwarber. This was Torey Lovullo's cue to bring in one of his top bullpen weapons, Kevin Ginkel, and he was outstanding: he faced five batters over the 7th and 8th innings and got two routine fly balls to center, followed by three strikeouts. Wheeler only gave up a walk and a stolen base in the top of the 8th, but the Phillies were now running out of time. In the 9th, Matt Strahm got the final two outs after Wheeler recorded the first, then closer Paul Sewald came out. It was another masterful performance, as all three batters he faced hit routine fly balls, including pinch-hitter Jake Cave who hit the ball to Carroll in right field to end the game. The Diamondbacks were moving on to the World Series for only the second time in their history, having completed a huge upset: it is fair to say that before the season started, no one not deluded by the desert heat would have predicted that they would make it to the Fall Classic.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Paul Casella: "Marte sets hit-streak record, named NLCS MVP", mlb.com, October 25, 2023. [1]
  • Anthony DiComo: "They were teammates 36 years ago. Now they’re NLCS foes: Nearly 40 years after playing together at Class A Lakeland, managers face off on NLCS stage", mlb.com, October 15, 2023. [2]
  • Anthony DiComo: "D-backs silence doubters, advance to World Series", mlb.com, October 25, 2023. [3]
  • Mike Petriello: "D-backs-Phillies position-by-position breakdown", mlb.com, October 13, 2023. [4]
  • Juan Toribio: "How D-backs' post-Deadline bullpen paved road to World Series: Sewald's acquisition helps put plan in action: 'Everyone has fit into their roles'", mlb.com, October 25, 2023. [5]

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