Diamondbacks playing without fear as they ready for Dodgers
Oct 5, 2023, 6:03 PM | Updated: 6:05 pm
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
October baseball goes deep. The Diamondbacks can go deeper.
They are the Cinderella story in the National League playoffs. They are the dark horse in a field of thoroughbreds. They are playing with house money and without expectations.
They have so much to gain, from growing their fan base to playoff experience to precious leverage in the search for a permanent home in Arizona.
At this altitude, they have nothing to lose.
You have heard how Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen built this team while losing his wife to brain cancer, how this vintage athletic triumph carries notes of sadness and grief. On the flipside, this is also a baseball team fueled by young players who are growing up together.
Manager Torey Lovullo conducted another oversized playoff celebration Wednesday in Milwaukee and that was, essentially, his point:
This team might be immature and inexperienced in places. But this team is deeply connected. And that’s why Lovullo called them bleeping dangerous, a soundbite that will surely be presented to Dodgers players in the next 24 hours.
But it’s true. The Diamondbacks are dangerous. After two games, Lovullo is pushing all the right buttons. A team that wilted under tremendous pressure to reach the postseason has turned into the hunter, liberated from any and all anxiety.
And like a proud parent, Lovullo is filling them with love and hugs and approbation, a sense that anything is within their grasp.
The Dodgers are heavy favorites for many reasons. But the Diamondbacks have turned their fortunes around on a dime. They entered the postseason having scored three runs in a four-game losing streak and responded with two nights of crisp, aggressive, lockdown, winning baseball in October.
They even kicked Guns N’ Roses out of Chase Field on Wednesday night.
Welcome to the jungle.
In the glow of unexpected triumph, the 2023 Diamondbacks feel like a young team finding its stride and its ceiling. And the short nature of the National League Division Series might benefit the underdogs, allowing the Diamondbacks to pitch Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen four times in five games and not wear out its stellar bullpen.
It’s also premature for such lofty projections. The Dodgers have the pedigree and the star power. They have Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman atop their lineup. They have a distinct home-field advantage, where even the game(s) at Chase Field will feel like bipartisan affairs.
But young talent comes with audacity. The Diamondbacks flashed plenty in Milwaukee, sweeping a two-game series on the road with remarkable poise, efficiency and nerve.
Probably not. But a rollercoaster season has suddenly become a party train.
Reach Dan Bickley at email@example.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta mornings from 6-10 a.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7.