When the virtual Diamondbacks set out for Chase Field on Sunday, they found themselves in a tight spot. On Saturday night, the Diamondbacks were unable to punch their ticket to the postseason, dropping the second game of a three-game series against Colorado, 3-2. The loss had the team still holding a magic number of one to reach the National League Wild Card play-in game. In order to play October baseball, the Diamondbacks either needed to beat the Rockies in the final game of the season, or they needed the San Diego Padres to lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Given those particular match-ups, the Diamondbacks had to like their chances of heading to the postseason. However, the season proved both at the beginning and at the end that this team could take nothing for granted. As such, the Diamondbacks passed on having Zac Eflin start the final game of the season in an attempt to get their rotation stacked properly. Instead, they turned to right-hander Corbin Martin. The Rockies countered with Kyle Freeland.
The first inning was a taxing one for Martin. While the Diamondbacks’ starter pitched a clean frame, it took him 23 pitches to retire the first three Colorado hitter. The second inning went a bit better. Martin allowed a one-out single, but followed that up two pitches later with a routine double play ball to Nick Ahmed at short. The frame only took 14 pitches. In the third inning, Martin walked Billy Hamilton with two outs. Trevor Story was next. He stroked a double through the gap in right center, scoring the speedy Hamilton. Ryan McMahon popped out to Carson Kelly in foul ground on the next pitch. Martin only allowed one more hit after that, a one-out single by Brendan Rodgers in the fifth inning. Martin’s night was through after he finished the sixth inning, having allowed only the one run on a walk and three hits while striking out five.
For the Diamondbacks, the early game was uneventful. The Diamondbacks drew a first inning walk, but managed nothing else against Freeman until the fourth inning. In the fourth, Ketel Marte hit a one-out double and then took third on a groundout to the right side. Unfortunately, the Diamondbacks were unable to bring him home and the inning ended with him stranded on third. In the fifth inning, the Diamondbacks loaded the bases, courtesy of two walks sandwiching a single. Again, they were unable to push a runner across. In the bottom of the sixth, the Diamondbacks finally managed to score when Carson Kelly went yard with a solo-shot to left.
The Arizona bullpen once again stepped up as a force to be reckoned with. Other than a two-out walk issued by Andrew Chafin in the sixth, no other Colorado player reached base in the game. Will Smith and Archie Bradley took care of business in the eighth and ninth innings, recording five strikeouts in the process.
After the stretch, Nick Ahmed drew a walk and then took third on a double by pinch-hitter, Michael A. Taylor. A slow grounder on the infield scored Ahmed and allowed Taylor to take third. David Peralta brought Taylor home with a sacrifice fly to right. That put the Diamondbacks up 3-1, which was the eventual final score.
After the completion of the game, a peek at the out of town scoreboard revealed the Padres also lost to the Dodgers, meaning the Diamondbacks were in, even if they had not managed to win their way in outright. Even though it looks the same in the record books, it is always nicer to win one’s way in rather than backing into the postseason due to someone else faltering.
Final Season Record: 85-77, 2nd NL West, 2nd Wild Card
The Wild Card play-in game will be played in St. Louis, where the Diamondbacks will take on Paul Goldschmidt and the St. Louis Cardinals.
Here are the rest of the match-ups for postseason play:
Milwaukee Brewers vs Los Angeles Dodgers
Wild Card Winner vs Atlanta Braves
AL Wild Card
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim vs Tampa Bay Rays
Minnesota Twins vs New York Yankees
Wild Card Winner vs Houston Astros