Arizona Diamondbacks 6, Chicago Cubs 2: How Sweep it Is

Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Record: 79-72. Pace: 85-77. Change on 2022: +9.

The D-backs completed a sweep of the Cubs at Chase Field, a victory which allowed them to leap-from Chicago and claim sole ownership of the second wild-card spot in the National League.

Love or hate the expanded playoff format, it sure feels good watch meaningful baseball in mid-September! Coming into a game flexed to ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, the Diamondbacks had clawed back to 0.5 games behind the second wild card-holding Cubs by taking the first two games in the critical three game series with Chicago. Among seemingly endless post-season scenarios which involve Cincinnati, Miami, and the always pesky San Francisco Giants, the home team had the opportunity to take sole possession of the second wild card spot with a sweep of the baby bears. Conversely, Cincinnati had lost earlier in the day (yay) and were leapfrogged by Miami, who curb stomped the Braves (boo). As it stood, the good guys would either hold the second spot or be on the outside looking up to the Marlins at the end of the day.

Ryne Nelson got the nod for the Diamondbacks, facing the Cubs for the second time in ten days. In the first game he held Chicago to two hits in a wind-aided gem but struggled in his next start against the seemingly-indestructible-only-to-Arizona Mets, a series that should never be spoken of again. Rookie southpaw Jordan Wicks, whom the Diamondbacks had never faced, took the bump for the Cubs sporting a sub 2.00 ERA with 22.2 innings pitched.

Nelson saw fit to raise the collective blood pressure right away with a leadoff double to Ian Happ in the first inning but recovered nicely with strikeouts to Christopher Morel and Cody Bellinger, following a ground out to Nico Hoerner. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks would strike Wicks early, courtesy of a Ketel Marte walk and a Corbin Carroll single. They would load the bases after Tommy Pham grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Carroll beating the throw to second, and score the game’s first run on a Christian Walker hit to outfield. Unfortunately, Corbin Carroll was thrown out at third on the play, but Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who had a nice night at the plate and an even better one in the field, doubled to score Pham and advance Walker to third. Emmanuel Rivera got into the act with a sacrifice fly to score Walker, and the Diamondbacks found themselves up 3-0 at the end of the first inning.

The Cubs would strike back in the second, thanks to a Mike Tauchman single that scored Dansby Swanson after his leadoff double. Nelson was able to limit the damage in the inning to that single run, but in doing so ran his pitch count to 48. He would give up another run in the top of the third after giving up a single to Happ and walks to Hoerner and Morel, followed by a double play that scored Happ. Lourdes Gurriel made the first of two incredible catches to erase Cody Bellinger for the third out and preserve a 3-2 Diamondbacks lead after three. Nelson would give up no more runs, and last until two batters into the 4th, when he was replaced with Luis Frias.

Meanwhile Wicks had settled in a bit, scattering 4 hits, the three first inning runs, and striking out 5. He also seemed to benefit at times from an inconsistent strike zone. The Diamondbacks did not lack for opportunities against him but ended up leaving 11 men on base for the game. Thankfully this would not come back to haunt them. Jose Cues would relieve Wicks in the bottom of the 5th inning.

The fireworks began in the 6th inning with the score still 3-2. The much-maligned Miguel Castro replaced Frias and to his credit, he rose to the occasion and pitched a perfect 1-2-3 inning. The bottom of the inning would see a Jordan Lawler single, followed by Ketel Marte depositing a Cues fastball into the right field bleachers. Daniel Palencia would replace Cues and strike out Tommy Pham for the third out, but the Diamondbacks would leave the inning with a 5-2 lead.

Ryan Thompson replaced Castro for the top of the 7th. He would give up a single and nothing else. In the bottom of the inning another maligned Diamondback, Jace Peterson, would come up big and tack on an insurance run with a ground ball double to score Alek Tomas and enter the 8th inning with a 6-2 lead.

Bryce Jarvis would shut the door on the Cubs with two innings pitched, zero hits, zero runs and zero drama. Overall, it was an outstanding effort from the team in all phases. The speed was on full display, there were several acrobatic run-saving defensive plays in the field, and the bullpen performed its job perfectly. Torey Lovullo pushed all the right buttons with his substitutions and had his team ready to play. It was Diamondbacks baseball at its near best, augmented by a national audience broadcast. It isn’t often we can say the team didn’t lay an egg when on the biggest stage. Heck, it isn’t often our team is on the biggest stage period. But one thing we can say, the Diamondbacks are in sole possession of the second wild card and it is a sweet feeling!

We had a nice game day thread with 170 comments but nothing turned red. Therefore, I will invoke executive privilege and give COD to Michael McDermott for this observation:

I agree wholeheartedly with this. Torey had one of his finest moments when the lights were brightest, and that’s what good managers do.

Well, that’s it for me tonight. Thanks to Jim for allowing me to recap this gem of a game, and thanks to all of you for reading it. I had a blast doing it! As always, see you in the threads and go Dbacks!

Bells and whistles, by Jim

[Click to enlarge, at]
Grizzly: Ketel Marte, +17.5%
Polar: Luis Frias, +13.6%
Teddy: Jake McCarthy, -6.0%

The team will now get a much-needed day off, but battle will be rejoined on Tuesday with a two-game set at Chase Field against the Giants. Victory will clinch the season tie-breaker, but would probably end San Francisco's wild-card hopes anyway. Zac Gallen starts for the D-backs, with a 6:40 pm first pitch.