Diamondbacks vs. Phillies score, highlights: Alek Thomas' home run fuels stunning late comeback to tie NLCS

Getty Images

The Arizona Diamondbacks shocked the Philadelphia Phillies to take Game 4 of the NLCS and even up the best-of-seven series at 2-2 on Friday night. It looked like the Phillies would be one win away from winning back-to-back NL pennants. And yet, the final score says 6-5 Diamondbacks. 

Here's how it went down. 

Diamondbacks storm back in 8th

The Phillies had a 5-3 lead heading to the bottom of the eighth. Craig Kimbrel and José Alvarado were left in their bullpen and, at least as far they were concerned, that should've meant a victory. The Diamondbacks had other ideas. 

Kimbrel was in to start the eighth and allowed a double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. before getting an out. He then gave up a game-tying home run to pinch hitter Alek Thomas

Thomas becomes the youngest player to ever have a pinch-hit, game-tying homer in the eighth inning or later in a playoff game. 

The Diamondbacks' work wasn't done, nor was Kimbrel's. After a strikeout, leadoff man Ketel Marte singled and then Corbin Carroll was hit by a pitch. Alvarado appeared to just get back up in the bullpen right before Carroll stepped in the box. It seems malpractice that Alvarado wasn't ready to face to Carroll, given the lefty-lefty matchup it would've set up, not to mention Kimbrel's issues in the inning. 

Kimbrel stayed, though, and hit Carroll with a pitch. 

Alvarado then entered the game. He fell behind 3-0. After a strike, 23-year-old catcher Gabriel Moreno came through with what would prove to be the game-winning hit. 

This was a failure by Kimbrel and Phillies manager Rob Thomson, but also an incredible effort by the D-backs offense. Credit the winners. 

Phillies break through, but not enough

The Phillies appeared to take control of this game in the sixth inning with two runs for their first lead. They took advantage of the D-backs handing them every opportunity to score, though it wasn't quite enough advantage as it would turn out. 

Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Saalfrank walked Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and Bryce Harper to load the bases before he was removed from the game. Setup man Ryan Thompson was summoned from the bullpen and coaxed a grounder off the bat of Alec Bohm, but it was in a bad spot compared to where the Diamondbacks' defenders were positioned. It would end up being ruled an infield single, correctly, but the throw home got away and allowed Turner, the speedster, to fly around third and score himself. 

After that, Bryson Stott walked. It could have been so much worse. It looked like the proverbial wheels were gonna fall off for the home team. Rewind back to the play where Turner scored on a throwing error. Well, Bohm attempted to reach second and was thrown out. And then JT Realmuto struck out and Nick Castellanos grounded out to end the threat. 

All things considered, that was a big inning for the Phillies but it ended up not being quite the disaster it was shaping up to be for Arizona. It could also be argued the D-backs handed the Phillies this inning before buckling down and preventing it from becoming worse. 

Whatever the case, it ended up being a net positive for the D-backs after Turner crossed the plate. The Phillies could have won had they tacked on more and taken better advantage of the gifts. 

Marte, Moreno leading D-backs

Marte in the leadoff spot went 2 for 4 and scored twice. Moreno in the three hole was 2 for 3 with two walks and two RBI. Moreno drove Marte home twice in this one. 

There's been a lot of focus on the star power the Phillies have, so any big-time Diamondbacks performances have been a bit overshadowed -- that'll happen when one team jumps out to a 2-0 lead -- but let's not overlook this duo. 

Through nine playoff games, Marte is hitting .385/.415/.641 with four doubles, two homers, five RBI and six runs. He's the established star of the ballclub, as a former All-Star and the highest-paid remaining player (believe it or not, their actual highest paid player is Madison Bumgarner). 

The budding young star of the D-backs is Carroll, but Moreno isn't far behind. He put up a 4.3 WAR season in only 111 games in 2023. Through the first nine playoff games of his career, he's hitting .267/.353/.600 with a double, three homers and eight RBI. 

The game winner was, fittingly, Moreno driving home Marte. 

Schwarber moving up record books

Kyle Schwarber hit another LCS home run to get the Phillies on the board: 

Most left-handed home runs in playoff history: 

19 - Kyle Schwarber
18 - Reggie Jackson

Most home runs in LCS history

13 - Manny Ramirez
11 - Kyle Schwarber

Most home runs in playoff history

29 - Manny Ramirez
26 - Jose Altuve
22 - Bernie Williams
20 - Derek Jeter
19 - Albert Pujols, George Springer, Kyle Schwarber

Not too shabby, huh? 


The Diamondbacks didn't hide the fact that this was a bullpen game for them. No opener with a "length" guy behind. No starter with a quick leash. No, it was a bullpen game. Former All-Star reliever Joe Mantiply started and got three outs with 14 pitches before being removed and they were off. 

On the Phillies' side, Christopher Sánchez was the starter and he took 18 starts in the regular season, sometimes working deep into the game, but he hadn't done so since Sept. 24 and hadn't thrown a pitch in game action since Sept. 30, when he threw just nine pitches. He lasted 2 1/3 innings before he was pulled. 

The Phillies would end up using eight pitchers. The D-backs matched them with eight arms of their own. 

It is often discussed that the more relievers a team uses, the higher the chances are that at least one of those relievers has a meltdown inning that spurs the other team to victory. Both teams used a lot of bullpen arms in this one, and it proved to be true with the middle-inning guys for Arizona and, more extremely, the Phillies' late-inning guys. 

Next up: Game 5 Saturday

Chase Field will once again host an NLCS game, with Game 5 taking place at 8:07 p.m. ET on Saturday. It'll be a rematch of Game 1 aces on the mound, with Zac Gallen starting for the D-backs and Zack Wheeler getting the ball for the Phillies. 

Things will feel different due to atmosphere, obviously, for the two teams, but performance could be totally different as well. Gallen gave up five runs on eight hits in his five Game 1 innings in Philly, but this regular season he had a 2.47 ERA at home vs. 4.42 on the road. He's a totally different pitcher in Chase Field. 

For anyone wondering if Wheeler is far worse away from home, like Gallen, though, he's actually been better on the road this season. He had a 4.13 home ERA and 3.16 ERA in his 17 road starts. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the mighty Braves' offense in Atlanta in Game 2 of the NLDS. 

Whatever team wins this game takes control of the series before it heads back to Philadelphia on Monday night for Game 6. It looked like the Phillies would have a chance to clinch the NL in Arizona, but thanks to the late comeback, the Diamondbacks could close things down before even facing elimination. That's how quickly things can turn in playoff baseball. 

See New Posts
Link copied

NLCS Game 4 final score: Diamondbacks 6, Phillies 5

The Diamondbacks mounted a furious eighth-inning comeback to take Game 4 of the National League Championship Series and even the series at 2-2. Down 5-2 going into the bottom of the eighth, the big blow for Arizona came on a game-tying pinch-hit homer from Alek Thomas. They pushed across the eventual winning run soon after. Game 5 will be on Saturday back at Chase Field. 

October 21, 2023, 3:36 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 11:36 pm EDT
Link copied

Two-out double for Schwarber

And here comes Trea Turner. Pinch runner Edmundo Sosa to second. Nail-biting time again. 

October 21, 2023, 3:34 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 11:34 pm EDT
Link copied

D-backs take lead on Moreno single

The D-backs entered the bottom of the eighth down 5-2, and they left it up 6-5. The go-ahead run was plated on Gabriel Moreno's two-out RBI single off José Alvarado. Here's a look: 

That's a 6-5 lead, and that's an 87% chance of evening the series. 

October 21, 2023, 3:28 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 11:28 pm EDT
Link copied

Alek Thomas ties it up

Down 5-3 with one out and one on in the eighth, D-backs pinch-hitter Alek Thomas changed everything in Game 4 with this blast off Craig Kimbrel: 

That one left the bat at 104.2 mph and went 412 feet. It would've been a home run in 29 of 30 MLB ballparks. That was the fourth straight fastball that Kimbrel threw to Thomas, but that last one was the first that wasn't inside on him. Thomas, suffice it to say, took advantage of that new location. It's a 5-5 ballgame. 

October 21, 2023, 3:18 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 11:18 pm EDT
Link copied

Longoria put a charge in one, but Marsh was able to run it down on the track.

October 21, 2023, 3:11 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 11:11 pm EDT
Link copied

D-backs have the tying run at the plate with no outs versus Kimbrel.

October 21, 2023, 3:09 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 11:09 pm EDT
Link copied

Philly's 5-3 lead comes to an 87% chance of winning Game 4, but it doesn't feel quite that secure. 

October 21, 2023, 2:58 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 10:58 pm EDT
Link copied

Grounder to first ends the threat

Phillies lead, 5-3. D-backs leave the bases loaded. What an inning.

October 21, 2023, 2:56 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 10:56 pm EDT
Link copied

Kerkering has only faced two batters, so he has to stay in for at least one more.

October 21, 2023, 2:55 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 10:55 pm EDT
Link copied

Bases loaded walk cuts the Philly lead to 5-3.

October 21, 2023, 2:54 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 10:54 pm EDT
Link copied

It is dicey. Christian Walker with the bases loaded against a rookie. He could change the entire series with one swing.

October 21, 2023, 2:52 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 10:52 pm EDT
Link copied

D-backs have something brewing in the seventh with two on and one out. 

October 21, 2023, 2:46 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 10:46 pm EDT
Link copied

Phillies now up three

Triple plus a sac fly makes it 5-2 Phillies in seventh.

October 21, 2023, 2:34 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 10:34 pm EDT
Link copied

Wasn't a smooth ride in the top of the sixth, but the Phillies maintain their two-run lead. They now have a 75.8% chance of winning Game 4.

October 21, 2023, 2:28 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 10:28 pm EDT
Link copied

Phillies take charge in sixth

The risk of the bullpen game is that you may run into one or more relievers who simply don't have in that day, and the more relievers you use the more likely it is that happens. So it goes with Andrew Saalfrank, who allowed the RBI double to Brandon Marsh in the fifth, and then in the sixth he walked the bases loaded. At that point, he was lifted for Ryan Thompson, but Alec Bohm came through with a single that set things in motion: 

The single plated Schwarber, and some heads-up base-running by Trea Turner allowed him to score on the Emmanuel Rivera throwing error. Shortly thereafter Bohm was cut down trying to take second. It was a chaotic sequence, but the end result was a 4-2 Phillies lead. 

October 21, 2023, 2:18 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 10:18 pm EDT
Link copied

Saalfrank walks the bases loaded

The Diamondbacks rookie lefty walks Schwarber, Turner and Harper to start the sixth. Bases loaded with no outs as Alec Bohm comes to the plate to face Ryan Thompson.

Link copied

Again: The D-backs have to leave Saalfrank in if they want a lefty facing Bryce Harper.

October 21, 2023, 1:58 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:58 pm EDT
Link copied

Casty working the leather again: 

October 21, 2023, 1:57 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:57 pm EDT
Link copied

Marsh ties it up

With two outs in the fifth, 'Zona manager Torey Lovullo called upon Andrew Saalfrank, his last lefty in the bullpen, to face Brandon Marsh. It didn't work, as you're about to see: 

That's a 387-foot ringing double, and that's a game-tying RBI that plates J.T. Realmuto and makes it 2-2. As well, Lovullo is now out of lefty arms with which to counter the likes of Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber in the later innings. That's a situation worth monitoring. 

October 21, 2023, 1:46 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:46 pm EDT
Link copied

And here comes Saalfrank

This could be a big deal. Saalfrank is the Diamondbacks' last lefty and he doesn't usually get more than a few outs. Torey Lovullo is using him to get lefty Brandon Marsh here. Remember, the Phillies also have lefties named Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper (and Bryson Stott). Will they all get righties the rest of the game? They will once Saalfrank departs. 

October 21, 2023, 1:39 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:39 pm EDT
Link copied

Oh hey a pitching change.

October 21, 2023, 1:38 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:38 pm EDT
Link copied

JT Realmuto with a bloop single

Two things. First, putting the ball in play is good. Second, better to be lucky than good sometimes. Can the Phillies build off this?

October 21, 2023, 1:35 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:35 pm EDT
Link copied

Arizona relievers

They have four late-inning guys in Andrew Saalfrank, Kevin Ginkel, Ryan Thompson and Paul Sewald. If they can get there with a lead they'd surely be ecstatic. 

October 21, 2023, 1:33 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:33 pm EDT
Link copied

Schwarber homers, Phillies cut lead to 2-1

You've heard this one plenty of times before: It's a playoff game and Kyle Schwarber hit a home run: 

That cuts the Diamondbacks lead to 2-1 here in the top of the fourth inning. 

It was also the 19th home run in Schwarber's playoff career, which started in 2015 with the Cubs, continued in 2021 with the Red Sox and persists with the Phillies. He surpasses Reggie Jackson in career playoff home runs, giving Schwarber the most postseason homers ever by a left-handed hitter. Jackson, known as "Mr. October," hit his 18 playoff homers in 77 games. This is Schwarber's 62nd playoff game. 

Also, Schwarber now has 11 career LCS home runs, trailing only Manny Ramirez (13) on the all-time LCS HR list. 

October 21, 2023, 1:16 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:16 pm EDT
Link copied

Snakes extend lead

In the bottom of the third, the underrated Ketel Marte got things started with a lead-off single, which gave him a 13-game playoff hit streak. Marte advanced to second on a Corbin Carroll ground-out, and that put Gabriel Moreno in position to pick up the RBI. Because we otherwise wouldn't be talking about it, he did just that: 

Moreno had been just 2 for 11 in the NLCS, so that makes that a timely change in fortunes. That pushed the D-backs lead to 2-0 and gave them roughly a 75% chance of winning Game 4 and evening the series. 

October 21, 2023, 1:11 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:11 pm EDT
Link copied
October 21, 2023, 1:04 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 9:04 pm EDT
Link copied

Sánchez done after seven outs

Cristopher Sánchez is out of the game after 2 1/3 innings. Rob Thomson is going to his bullpen with one out in the third and Marte on third base. Jeff Hoffman will enter.

Link copied

Active playoff hitting streak leaderboard

1. Trea Turner: 14 games
2. Ketel Marte: 13 games

Both players have singles tonight and it's only the third inning.

Link copied

I certainly get it from a tactical standpoint, but a postseason bullpen game is aesthetically displeasing. 

October 21, 2023, 12:56 AM
Oct. 20, 2023, 8:56 pm EDT
Link copied

D-backs bite first

The Phillies made two errors in the second inning. One actual error from third baseman Alec Bohm let the leadoff man aboard. Sánchez made a mental error by forgetting how many outs there were when he could've turned an inning-ending double play. Emmanuel Rivera made them pay with an RBI single to make it 1-0.

See More