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Snake Bytes, 7/23: Win or Go Home

The D-backs need victory today in Philadelphia to keep their season alive.

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MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Team news

With the ALCS going to a seventh game, the D-backs will remain the early contest of tomorrow's Championship Series double-header. First pitch is 2:07 pm, Arizona time.

[SI] D-backs Will Rely On Merrill Kelly to Stave Off Elimination - Kelly expects the familiar setting to make things a bit easier for him this second go around. He hadn't pitched in this stadium since 2019 and of course never in a playoff atmosphere. Things should be more familiar for him in this game. "I think just the overall experience. First playoff game there, first experience in that stadium. So I think walking in, even just the visual from the mound, just little stuff like that...... the fact that I know the dimensions, know the vantage point from the pitcher's mound, that type of thing. I think I can take just the whole in-game experience and it won't be fresh"

[The Athletic] Diamondbacks, on brink of elimination, need their best to produce in Philadelphia - Lovullo said the Diamondbacks have to be creative to get that back into their game because it’s who they are, how they got here. Just because it hasn’t factored into the NLCS so far, doesn’t mean it won’t surface in Game 6 or possibly a potential Game 7. Same goes for Arizona’s hitting. “I don’t want to sound like it’s sour grapes, but we haven’t played our best baseball through the course of this series,” Lovullo said. “We’ve had some good innings, we’ve had some good moments, but I don’t think we’ve pieced together a full nine-inning game where I can say I’m very satisfied. That’s our goal right now.”

[AZ Central] Old-school Torey Lovullo doesn’t care what anybody says about his player substitutions - Lovullo, for his part, stands on every move, regardless of what anyone else has to say about it, and the Diamondbacks are headed back to Philadelphia two wins away from the club's first World Series appearance in a generation; so he must be doing something right. “I want everybody to know … that we have a strategy,” he said. “I have a strategy for everything that's done. Everything that's done has been well-talked about.” The approach feels decidedly new-school, which might come as a surprise from a baseball lifer such as Lovullo.

[SI] Corbin Carroll Has Yet to Make His Impact in NLCS - With a ground ball hit one step to his right, Carroll retreated and ultimately was unable to score when the ball got through the infield. It would have cut the Phillies 2-0 lead in half and perhaps changed the momentum of the game. Instead Philadelphia cruised to a 6-1 win in which the D-backs never were really in it. Lovullo talked about that play last night: "I can't fault him in that situation. He ended up getting to third base, which is very critical, but I think when you are talking about elite base running and elite instincts, Corbin is in that category, a guy that can maybe make a better read if he knew where that shortstop was."

[] Kelly brings global experience into crucial G6 start - Kelly is no longer an unknown commodity. He pitched for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic and started multiple playoff games. The D-backs not only picked up both contract options, but they also extended him through 2024 with a two-year deal worth $18 million. It includes a team option for 2025. “Durable and consistent in a time when our rotation has not been that at all,” Hazen said of Kelly. “It's been exactly what we needed every step of the way. He's been every bit as good as Gallen this year, and the two of them together have carried us.”

[Arizona Sports] Torey Lovullo deservingly getting his flowers this Diamondbacks playoff run - Lovullo has given this team some sandpaper and some old school. No manager is immune to hindsight in October, but he’s mostly rolling hot in the postseason, including the iconic Alek Thomas pinch-hit appearance on Friday night. Lovullo still has his critics, and I don’t know why. He absorbed a massive teardown in Arizona. He has happily captained a small-budget dinghy in a division full of runaway spenders. He’s lived on a series of short-term commitments, never allowing his contract or questionable status to impact his vibe. After seven years on the job, his regular season record is 42 games under .500. And yet he’s never lost himself or his swagger.

[AZ Central] DBacks’ Corbin Carroll, teammates ignore doubters, confident NLCS isn’t over - Diamondbacks outfielder Alek Thomas, who’s hit four home runs this postseason, including longballs in both Games 4 and 5, said he and his teammates maintain “all the confidence in the world.” “I think we’ve always believed in ourselves since Day 1, so this isn’t new to us,” Thomas said. “We’ve been in a situation where we’ve been down before, in the regular season, and I know it’s going to be a tough atmosphere in Philly, but I believe in these guys and we’re never going to give up.”

[] From college to the NLCS, Thompson makes presence felt - “This year, I think especially the first half of the year, there were a lot of times where I got punched in the face a little bit,” said Thompson, who posted a 6.11 ERA over 18 appearances with the Rays before his release. “That helped me get better. Coming over here, something that I thought was really special about this team was how many different coaches that we have.” Since joining the D-backs, Thompson has been an integral part of the team’s improved bullpen. The right-hander ranked second among Arizona relievers with 12 innings in September, allowing one run on six hits and striking out eight.

And, elsewhere...

[ESPN] Eovaldi remains perfect, Rangers slug their way to 9-2 win over Astros to force Game 7 in ALCS - The Astros, who are 5-0 on the road this postseason, won three in a row in Arlington wearing their orange jerseys to move within a win of reaching their third consecutive World Series. But those orange tops didn’t help them carry their road magic home as they fell to 1-4 in Houston this postseason after posting a 39-42 mark at Minute Maid Park in the regular season. No team with a losing record at home has ever reached the World Series. This series joins the 2019 World Series, which Houston lost to Washington in seven games, as the only best-of-seven series in postseason history in which the road team won the first six games.

As noted on Reddit, "According to Take Me Out to the Ballgame, all six games of the ALCS thus far have been a shame."

[MLB Trade Rumors] Padres Permit Bob Melvin To Interview For Giants’ Managerial Position - By this point, it would seem like an upset if Melvin doesn’t end up as San Francisco’s next manager. While the official interview has yet to take place, Melvin and Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi are quite familiar with each other — Melvin was the Athletics’ manager when Zaidi began his baseball career in Oakland’s front office over a decade ago. Lin and Baggarly note that it could create an even more awkward situation between Melvin and Preller if Melvin didn’t end up getting the Giants job, so perhaps regardless of what happens with the San Francisco interview, Melvin might not be back as the Padres’ skipper in 2024.

[] Technology, toughness fuel Arizona baseball’s new pitching program - John DeRouin, Arizona baseball’s new director of player development, recently posted a thread on social media that outlined the coaching staff’s plan for left-hander Bradon Zastrow. It included terms such as “trunk stack” and “seam orientation” that sound more like band names than pitching terms. It also featured charts and graphs that broke down every aspect of Zastrow’s arsenal. But DeRouin made sure to introduce the thread with something simple. “The overarching goal of pitching development here ... starts with a question,” DeRouin posted. “What does the best version of you look like?”