On Thursday, the Diamondbacks won, 2-1. They did so because of the player who remains among their stars. And now, a National League Championship Series that could have been as good as over instead has a new breath of life. In Game 4 on Friday, the Diamondbacks — down two games to one — will have a chance to draw even with the Phillies.
Game 3, and the first in Arizona. A matchup between Ranger Suárez, who has been lights out this postseason, and Brandon Pfaadt, a rookie who has struggled in his first campaign. The matchup favored the Phillies. But strange things happen in October, as we draw towards All Hallow’s Eve. Such as, for instance, the mysterious vanishing of an entire offense.
The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 3 of the NLCS to move the series to 2-1 Philly. In the win, the story was Diamondbacks rookie Brandon Pfaadt, who made history on the mound.
My gut and your gut don’t matter much when you stare at the stone-cold stats, and they tell you that Third Time Through the Order stuff is pretty freaking real when it comes to Pfaadt.
To win the postseason, sometimes it requires a player you didn’t expect to contribute much to provide that spark. In the Diamondbacks walk-off win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 3, that spark came from Pavin Smith. With a chance to take their first series lead against rookie right-hander Orion Kerkering in the 7th inning, manager Torey Lovullo sent Smith up to the plate. Twice he batted with a runner and scoring position and delivered a hit, advancing the go-ahead runner to third with no outs. While it did not result in a run in the 7th, it set up the situation for Ketel Marte to walk it off in the 9th.
“Right man, right spot,” said Pfaadt after the victory.
On the second pitch from Kimbrel, Marte smashed a high-heater into center field to win it. It was Marte’s third hit of the night — the same amount of hits the entire fearsome Phillies lineup collected in Game 3 — and the third walk-off in D-backs postseason history. Like the two before him, Marte ended things with a single to center field.
Jose Altuve became the seventh player in baseball history to play in 100 career postseason games Thursday night, a product of additional rounds but also, mostly, an indication of the Houston Astros’ prolonged success. His biggest lesson from that time?
“That in the playoffs, a lot of things can happen,” Altuve said.
Houston is scoring nine runs per game this year at the home ballpark of its in-state rival. It is more than double the Astros’ average in eight home games against the Rangers. On Thursday, before Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, Texas manager Bruce Bochy was asked about the discrepancy.
The American League Championship Series continues Friday afternoon at Globe Life Field in Arlington for what will be a pivotal Game 5. After the Rangers won the first two games of the series in Houston, the Astros struck back to take two in Arlington in convincing fashion. The ALCS is now tied 2-2 and will go back to Houston for at least Game 6 in this best-of-seven series.