Diamondbacks’ young bats and stellar defense complete Game 1 comeback vs. Brewers
Oct 3, 2023, 10:15 PM | Updated: Oct 4, 2023, 5:29 am
MILWAUKEE — The Arizona Diamondbacks faced an early 3-0 deficit as the road underdog against Milwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes in Game 1 of the National League Wild Card Series on Tuesday.
The D-backs were 0-for-8 at one point with runners in scoring position and only got 2.2 innings out of starter Brandon Pfaadt.
Yet the Diamondbacks through slug, another terrific effort out of the bullpen and perhaps the play of their season by veteran third baseman Evan Longoria scored six unanswered runs to capture the series opener, 6-3.
It was their largest postseason comeback in franchise history, according to MLB researcher Sarah Langs, and they did it against Milwaukee’s No. 1 starter with their own best pitchers, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, lined up for the next two games of the three-game set. Arizona in franchise history was 0-14 in the playoffs when trailing by three or more runs.
“It feels good, but we got to do right and take nothing for granted,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “Stay humble and come here tomorrow playing our finest game to try and close them out.”
How the D-backs pieced together a comeback vs. Brewers to take Game 1 of wild card
The comeback took form in the top of the third inning when shortstop Geraldo Perdomo worked a walk to flip the lineup.
Corbin Carroll crushed a changeup 444 feet in what manager Torey Lovullo called a game-altering moment for the D-backs’ dugout. Carroll became the youngest Diamondbacks player to homer in the postseason, another first on a list of many in his standout rookie campaign.
Ketel Marte hit a 108.2 mph line drive over the right-field wall on the very next pitch to tie the game.
America, meet the Answerbacks. pic.twitter.com/FvoA2jqPxe
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) October 4, 2023
“He is a really good pitcher,” Carroll said of Burnes. “We wanted to get him out of there. I thought we took really patient at-bats and got rewarded.”
The power trip continued in the fourth inning when catcher Gabriel Moreno sent a high slider deep into left-center field for the go-ahead shot, flipping his bat after contact.
He would have been the youngest player in franchise history to homer in the playoffs at 23 years old had Carroll not gone yard. Carroll is less than 200 days younger.
— MLB (@MLB) October 4, 2023
In front of a sellout crowd and in their first postseason experience, the young bats got it done and chased Burnes with no outs in the fifth inning.
“You’re always concerned about reading the room, watching what’s going on, making sure the youngsters — who have never played a playoff game, several of who are rookies and are cycling through their first go-round at the big-league level — you always have small concerns. We had several step up today in a really, really big way,” Lovullo said.
Evan Longoria robs Brewers
Then it was the veterans’ turn.
The Diamondbacks stranded the bases loaded in the fifth inning, and Milwaukee loaded them up in the bottom half with nobody out. Arizona pieced together a bullpen game after Pfaadt was pulled in the third inning, but reliever Ryne Nelson allowed three straight hits. He managed a critical strikeout after a game-tying hit-by-pitch was overturned after replay review.
Lovullo called to Ryan Thompson, and Brewers outfielder Tyrone Taylor — who homered off Pfaadt in the second inning — lined a ball to the left side. Longoria said he just jumped and threw his glove up, snagging the ball and throwing to second to pick off shortstop Willy Adames for the inning-ending double play.
“Sometimes those plays, I think it’s just a reaction,” Longoria said.
“Sometimes I don’t even jump for those. In that moment, we were trying to kind of just leave it all out on the field and I threw my glove up there. I felt it hit my glove. I couldn’t actually believe I caught it. Then just looking around the infield, seeing if anybody had gotten too far off.”
Evan Longoria, are you kidding? 🤯
— MLB (@MLB) October 4, 2023
Longoria continued to impact the game defensively in the sixth. With one on and no outs, catcher William Contreras tapped a ball to the left side. Longoria cut it off but couldn’t secure it, as the ball popped up into his mitt.
Christian Yelich, the runner on first, overran second base anticipating a throw, and Longoria essentially back-picked him. Yelich was called safe, but Lovullo’s challenges proved a difference-maker as the call was overturned.
The Diamondbacks at that point had struggled to come through with runners on to build the lead, but the defense and pitching preserved the lead. Some fortune was certainly involved but that’s needed to win in the postseason.
Bullpen steps up
Arizona’s bullpen entered the playoffs pitching the best it has all year with a 1.69 ERA over the last 13 games.
Joe Mantiply, Miguel Castro, Nelson, Thompson and Kevin Ginkel bridged the gap to the ninth inning, with Thompson recording five outs and Ginkel locking down two innings. Ginkel struck out four hitters and gave the hammer on the way out.
The D-backs set another franchise record for relief innings in a postseason win, according to MLB Network.
“Our bullpen was the reason why we won this game,” Lovullo said. “We had a gassed-up bullpen knowing that Zac is going tomorrow with Merrill on the backside of that. We could maneuver a little bit to keep this game close. It was one after the other who came in executing and did a really good job.”
D-backs get to Devin Williams
The Brewers aimed to keep the deficit where it was by bringing in All-Star closer Devin Williams for the ninth inning.
Perdomo worked another consequential walk, working from an 0-2 count and seeing eight pitches. Williams walked three batters in the inning, although Perdomo was thrown out on a double steal attempt — Arizona finished 2-for-4 on stolen bases.
Christian Walker delivered a double with two on and two outs, scoring both runners on his third hit of the game. Williams was removed at 31 pitches, a potential carryover effect into Game 2.
D-backs closer Paul Sewald earned the save, and the D-backs won their first postseason contest since the 2017 NL Wild Card Game.
D-backs vs. Brewers Game 2
The Brewers announced that right-hander Freddy Peralta (3.86 ERA) will start in Game 2 with righty Brandon Woodruff out (2.28 ERA).
Gallen gets the ball for his first postseason start and a chance to propel the D-backs into the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
First pitch for Game 2 of Diamondbacks-Brewers is at 4:08 p.m. MST on 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.