Exorcising the demons
It's appropriate this series started the weekend that The Exorcist reboot came out, because the D-backs have gone full Father Damien Karras on the sewage-leaking, vermin infested house of horrors which is Dodger Stadium. Beginning August 31st, 2018 through the end of this regular season - so, a period spanning more than five years - Arizona had played 41 games in Los Angeles, and gone 7-34. They had won consecutive games just once since April 2018, on September 20-21st, 2022. The 15 runs scored by the D-backs over these two games, is more than the tally from all their 2023 regular season games in the park, combined (12). But it's safe to say, these two games also count for considerably more than all their 2023 regular season games in the park, combined.
Winning the big moments
Again, the Diamondbacks did sterling work of doing it when it mattered most. Of the biggest plays, which impacted Win Probability by more than ten percent, four out of the five benefited Arizona. In ascending order of importance, these were:
- #5. Btm 8, 2-4, Chris Taylor double-play, +10%
- #4. Btm 6, 2-4. James Outman strikeout, +12%
- #3. Btm 6, 2-4. Kolten Wong ground-out, +12%
- #2. Btm 6, 1-4. Enrique Hernandez RBI infield single, -12%
- #1. Btm 7, 2-4. Freddie Freeman double-play, +12%
Bullpen bends, doesn't break
I was... well, roughly 50/50 concerned and impressed that Andrew Saalfrank was used, in close to the biggest situation of the postseason so fat. I mean, here is a pitcher with barely ten innings of major-league experience, who began the year playing for the Amarillo Sod Poodles. It looked like it was all going pear-shaped, but that strikeout of Outman (remember when he was supposed to be Carroll's biggest rival for Rookie of the Year, LOL?) has to be a huge confidence boost for the rookie. Then there's Ryan Thompson. Tommy Pham and Paul Sewald may get the headlines, but Thompson has arguably been almost as important a mid-season acquisition.
Paul the Wall blocks the Dodgers' path
The final nail in the Los Angeles coffin came courtesy of Paul Sewald, who delivered a pristine full-inning save for the first time as a Diamondback. Over his thirteen regular season and two post-season saves for Arizona, the only one without a base-runner was his one out save at Wrigley Field on September 7. I'm pretty sure we were all expecting something similar last night, and Sewald having to retire at least Mookie Betts (who feels overdue for a post-season breakout game), and perhaps Freddie Freeman, as the tying and winning runs respectively. But the Arizona bullpen faced the minimum over the final 3.2 innings to prevent that from happening, with Sewald closing it out. The deeper we go into the playoffs, the more the trade with Seattle feels important.
Shoeless Joe's hometown
Among the notable people of Greenville, where we are this week visiting the Snakepitette, is Shoeless Joe Jackson of 1919 Black Sox infamy. The house he lived in after returning to Greenville at the end of his career is now a museum dedicated to the man. On the side was a large photo of Jackson, along with his quote, "God knows I gave my best in baseball at all times and no man on earth can truthfully judge me otherwise," so it's clear where they stand. Unfortunately, it was only open on Saturday afternoons, so we weren't able to get inside, but there was still a sense of the ghosts of baseball past hovering around. The house, amusingly, had actually been picked up in its entirety and relocated, not once, but twice, before arriving at its present location.
Lance Lynn versus Brandon Pfaadt looks to be the pitching match-up tomorrow. A win would clinch the series and it would be Arizona’s turn to sit and wait, for the NLCS does not start until Monday 16th. It would give them the full option to arrange their rotation however they want: Zac Gallen or Merrill Kelly could start Game #1. A loss would then lead to Kelly in Game #4 on Thursday, likely against Clayton Kershaw. A win there would still mean Gallen and Kelly starting the first two games of the Championship Series. I'd rather Arizona end it quickly. I think we can have the long break without blaming it for the subsequent results. Though credit to Eric over at True Blue LA, who said, "The long layoff isn’t beating the Dodgers, but the Diamondbacks sure are."
World Series odds
D-backs down to +650.