By Field Level Media
October 25, 2023 – 5:05 AM UTC
PHILADELPHIA — The Arizona Diamondbacks won nine games during a six-week span from early July through mid-August.
On Tuesday night, the Diamondbacks won their ninth game of the 2023 postseason — and became one of the most unlikely World Series teams of all-time.
Corbin Carroll snapped out of his slump by collecting three hits and two RBIs as the Diamondbacks advanced to the World Series by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.
The Diamondbacks, who overcame two-games-to-none and three-games-to-two deficits in the NLCS, will visit the American League champion Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the World Series on Friday night. Arizona is seeking its second championship while Texas is looking to win it all for the first time.
“We just have a tremendous group of players that work really hard,” Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said on TBS following the win. “We’ve got some more work left to do. We’re going to go down to Texas and see what we can do there, too.”
Ketel Marte earned NLCS MVP honors after hitting .387 (12-for-31) and extending his postseason hitting streak to 16 games, tied for the fourth-longest streak in playoff history.
The Phillies, with five players on $100 million deals on their roster, fell one win shy of their second straight NL pennant. Philadelphia reached the World Series as the sixth seed in the Senior Circuit last year — just as Arizona this year.
“It is disappointing,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “It’s tough to get back to this position two years in a row. It is. But (our players) fought like hell to get here and we came up short. That’s baseball sometimes.”
Arizona, two years removed from going 52-110 and coming off a 74-88 performance in 2022, reached the World Series after going 84-78 in the regular season. That’s the third-worst record for a Fall Classic participant in a full season behind only the 1973 New York Mets (82-79) and the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals (83-78).
“Trust me when I say there were some real hardships — there were some very dark days in my career,” seventh-year Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “So for me to sit here and tell you that I wouldn’t trade that in — if you told me that I would be coming out the other side of it like this, I would understand why I was having to go through that.”
The Diamondbacks went 9-25 from July 2 through Aug. 13, the worst 34-game stretch ever for a team that made the playoffs. Arizona was 59-60 and 3 1/2 games out of the final NL wild-card spot on Aug. 14 but went 25-18 thereafter to leapfrog the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs and clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 30 — the penultimate day of the season.
“Some long nights for all of us, players and coaches,” Carroll said on TBS following the win. “Just wanted to find a way to get the job done. But we came out of it better, we really did.”
The Diamondbacks opened the playoffs with five straight wins over the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers before being outscored 15-3 by the Phillies in the first two games of the NLCS. But Arizona mounted comeback wins in Games 3 and 4 and bounced back from a 6-1 loss in Game 5 by trailing for just one half-inning in the final two games in Philadelphia.
Carroll, the lone Arizona player on a nine-figure deal and the likely NL Rookie of the Year, entered Tuesday hitting .130 (3-for-23) in the NLCS but scored in the first inning of Game 7. He singled with one out, took third on Gabriel Moreno’s single and came home when Christian Walker beat out a potential double-play grounder.
“Six games ago you would have said that I was the hottest hitter on the planet, right?” said Carroll, who batted .412 (7-for-17) with two homers in the sweeps of the Brewers and Dodgers. “I think it’s easy to get caught up in the day and get caught up in just the minute — but just realizing that that’s all it is. It’s just a little hitch of things not going your way. That was kind of my mindset.
“In the end, I think everything evens out eventually.”
Philadelphia’s Alec Bohm homered off Brandon Pfaadt — a rookie who posted a 5.72 ERA in the regular season — leading off the second for the Phillies, who took the lead when Bohm walked with one out in the fourth and scored on Bryson Stott’s double.
But Philadelphia left the bases loaded in the inning, symbolizing a robust offense gone cold at the most inopportune time. The Phillies scored 15 runs in the final five games.
“That’s the ebbs and flows of offense,” Thomson said, “People aren’t going to hit every single day of the season. It’s just not going to happen.”
The Diamondbacks immediately retook the lead in the fifth, when Emmanuel Rivera led off with a single against Ranger Suarez (1-1), moved to second on Geraldo Perdomo’s bunt and scored on Carroll’s two-out single. Carroll stole second base on the first pitch Jeff Hoffman threw and scored when Moreno singled two pitches later.
Kyle Schwarber greeted Joe Mantiply in the bottom half with a double — the only hit the Phillies recorded in five innings against five Diamondbacks relievers — but he was stranded on second. Ryan Thompson (1-0) retired all four batters he faced.
Arizona added an insurance run in the seventh, when Perdomo singled off reliever Jose Alvarado, raced to third on Marte’s double and scored on Carroll’s sacrifice fly.
Diamondbacks reliever Kevin Ginkel inherited a two-on, one-out jam in the bottom of the seventh and retired all five batters he faced. He struck out the side in the eighth before Paul Sewald notched the save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Sewald got pinch hitter Jake Cave to fly out to Carroll in right and set off a raucous on-field celebration at otherwise silent Citizens Bank Park. It was Sewald’s fifth save of the postseason.
“Better squeeze it,” Carroll said of his thoughts as the ball landed in his glove. “To be able to finally put it away and run towards that dog pile — man, just a hell of a feeling.”
–Field Level Media