D-backs win 5-1
We'll be back here tomorrow night for Game 7. Winner takes the NL pennant.
The Arizona Diamondbacks went into Philadelphia and won NLCS Game 6 over the Phillies on Monday evening. Arizona's 5-1 victory forces a Game 7, which will come Tuesday night. The winner takes the pennant and will face either the Rangers or Astros in the 2023 World Series. The D-backs never trailed in this one, taking a lead in the second inning and holding it the rest of the way.
The best-of-seven NLCS is now tied, 3-3, with the D-backs having won three of the last four games. The Game 6 loss for the Phillies was their first defeat at Citizens Bank Park in these playoffs and marked their first home loss against an NL opponent in the playoffs since 2011.
Here's how it went down in Game 6.
The Phillies have trailed twice at home during the playoffs, but both deficits were just one run and lasted less than an inning. The Diamondbacks led nearly all game in this one, pouncing on Phillies starter Aaron Nola with a three-run second inning.
It started with Tommy Pham and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homering, going back-to-back to start the frame:
Pham was removed from Game 4 and then didn't even play in Game 5, so that had to feel good. It was his fifth career postseason home run and his second this season. It was Gurriel's second career postseason homer.
The Diamondbacks would tack on further in the inning, as Alek Thomas walked and then Evan Longoria drove him home with a double. The Diamondbacks had a multi-run lead for the rest of the game.
Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly pitched five innings and allowed one run on three hits and three walks. It was a bit of a surprise when he was removed after five innings, however, and he even walked away from his manager and coaching staff when informed of the decision. He had just retired seven straight, including four strikeouts. He struck out Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper with a harmless Trea Turner flyout wedged in between in a quick fifth inning.
Overall, it was a good outing from Kelly, but it was especially impressive once he buckled down after allowing some traffic in the third inning. An argument could be made that Kelly was pulled too early, but the D-backs bullpen threw well and held the lead, so I'd say it's an "all's well that ends well" situation in that clubhouse right now.
Should the Diamondbacks win Game 7 and take the series, it looks like Ketel Marte will win NLCS MVP. He had an RBI triple in the fifth inning ...
... and then an RBI single in the seventh to open up a 5-1 Diamondbacks lead. He's now 11 for 26 (.423) with three doubles, a triple, three RBI and two runs in the NLCS. For the entire postseason, he's hitting .383/.408/.638.
Nola, the Phillies starter, was not great for much of the 2023 season. He had a 4.62 ERA through his first 30 starts before looking better in his last two. He then locked in during the playoffs and looked like the ace version of himself, pitching to a 0.96 ERA in his three playoff starts with 19 strikeouts against two walks in 18 2/3 innings.
Monday for Game 6, we saw the bad version of Nola again, starting with the second inning. He struck out three in the first inning and then gave up homers on the first two batters of the second before a walk and RBI double. Just like that, the Phillies were in their first multi-run hole at home in the playoffs.
The final line for Nola: 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
That's just not good enough. Then again, the offense didn't do anything either. It was a complete team loss.
The last time we saw two LCS Games 7s in a full season was 2004, when the Astros-Cardinals series was a classic and, well, we all remember what went down in the Yankees-Red Sox series. There's no way we can match that kind of drama here, but it's a Game 7 nonetheless.
The Diamondbacks will start rookie righty Brandon Pfaadt. He was excellent in Game 3 in Arizona, allowing only two hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts.
The Phillies will go with lefty Ranger Suárez, who has been brilliant this postseason, just like last year. In 28 2/3 playoff innings in his career, he has a 0.94 ERA and 0.84 WHIP with 26 strikeouts.
Also, expect an All Hands On Deck approach from both dugouts, given that it's Game 7. That means we could well see Game 5 starters Zack Wheeler and/or Zac Gallen in relief at some point.
The Phillies are looking for their second instance of back-to-back pennants as the repeat NL champs. They also pulled it off in 2008 and 2009. The Diamondbacks are looking for their second-ever pennant (they won the NL and the World Series in 2001).
I'll leave you with the fun fact of the day: The Phillies have never played in a Game 7. That will change Tuesday night.
We'll be back here tomorrow night for Game 7. Winner takes the NL pennant.
Castellanos strikes out. Two down.
Realmuto flys out. One down.
As the meme goes: it's time for Paul Sewald to pitch.
Phillies need four to keep it rolling.
Runner on third, one out.
Remains 5-1 Arizona.
Phillies have six outs to go. Turner, Harper, Bohm due up.
And the Phillies do his Welcome to the Jungle closer's entrance. Kimbrel had a hand in coughing up Games 3 and 4 in Arizona, and an already-on edge Philly crowd peppered him with a few boos as he took the mound. Nothing too bad, but this is the most anxious the crowd has been at CBP in the playoffs by a large margin.
Schwarber getting thrown out trying to take second on a pitch that got away from the catcher down 5-1 is, as a certain former Phillies manager would say, not what you want.
Moreno has taken a beating this postseason. Just took a Trea Turner backswing to the side of the head.
Saalfrank wins the battle for Mr. Hoosier.
Saalfrank vs. Schwarber with top Hoosier bragging rights on the line.
D-backs going to the pen
Kimbrel is warming 😬
Impressive job by Thomas of cutting that ball off in the gap.
The Diamondbacks only stole one game in the first five games of this series. They were second in the majors in steals in the regular season. They are finally running again, having now stolen three bases in this one.
Can't count out the Phillies' lineup, but a Game 7 is pretty likely at this point.
It took five games plus six innings, but Corbin Carroll finally stole a base in the NLCS. He then scored on Ketel Marte's single. Marte stole second base as well. Manager Torey Lovullo said they planned to be more aggressive before the game and they have three steals tonight. They had one steal total in Games 1-5.
Marte is up to .383/.408/.638 in the postseason. If not for Yordan Alvarez, there would be a very strong argument Marte has been the best player in the entire postseason. I was surprised the Phillies didn't intentionally walk him with first base open there.
The D-backs are up 5-1 and are nine outs away from forcing Game 7.
The D-backs are nine outs away from forcing Game 7. They're up 4-1.
Kelly is indeed out. Thompson is in.
Phillies have 12 outs to get three runs.
Appeared that Lovullo shook his hand as if to say his night was over.
He's through five innings on 90 pitches. Still just the three hits, three walks and one run allowed. He's struck out eight.
The Phillies' top three hitters have all faced Merrill Kelly three times tonight. They are 0 for 6 with four strikeouts and three walks.
Kelly stayed in to face, Schwarber, Turner, and Harper a third time and went strikeout, fly out, strikeout. It's 4-1 Snakes through five. I would guess they're already in Thompson-Ginkel-Sewald territory. No need to play around with Miguel Castro or a left. Kelly has thrown 90 pitches.
Is going fine so far. Retired both Schwarber and Turner. Let's see what happens with Harper.
Arizona added a run and they lead 4-1 in the fifth, but those were two pretty huge outs. The game is still reasonably close and the Phillies can put points on the board in a hurry. Lorenzen's escape job may wind up being one of those "remember that inning" moments.
Lorenzen did keep the runner at third with a grounder to short. Not a strikeout, but works just as well.