Diamondbacks outmatch 100-win Dodgers in NLDS sweep, continue perfect postseason
Oct 12, 2023, 12:52 AM | Updated: 7:52 am
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks haven’t let the moment get too big under the postseason lights, sweeping their way through two experienced division winners to the National League Championship Series.
On Wednesday, the D-backs finished off the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS at Chase Field with a 4-2 victory. The series was one-sided, as the D-backs — who entered as underdogs against a division foe that won 16 more games in the regular season — never trailed.
It was rare to see them without a multi-run lead, going up 6-0 in the first inning of Game 1, 3-0 in the opening frame of Game 2 and 4-0 in the third inning of Game 3.
Outfielder Corbin Carroll said the Diamondbacks are playing their best baseball, and it couldn’t come at the more perfect time for a chase toward the pennant. Arizona beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the wild card round and are 5-0 this postseason.
“We talked about it all year. I think a lot of people will say it, all you’ve got to do is get in,” Carroll said. “We got in and just some truly magical things have happened so far.”
D-backs starting pitchers gave them 16 innings with two earned runs, while their offense chased all three Dodgers starters before the end of the third inning (14 total outs).
Brandon Pfaadt provided 4.1 scoreless innings in his second postseason start on Wednesday, and the bullpen held on until Paul Sewald recorded his fourth save of the playoffs.
The Diamondbacks hit four home runs across six hitters in the third inning off Dodgers starter Lance Lynn, started by shortstop Geraldo Perdomo’s solo shot for his first long ball since Aug. 13.
“It feels amazing” Perdomo said. “We didn’t expect we would hit four homers. I just tried to make really good swings, tried to get on base.”
Second baseman Ketel Marte leaned back and watched his no-doubter fly over the right-field wall, and with two outs, first baseman Christian Walker followed suit.
Catcher Gabriel Moreno rounded the bases twice in one at-bat. He initially sent an opposite-field shot into the bullpen in right field, which had the sold-out Chase Field crowd in a frenzy. It was reviewed after he crossed home plate and ruled foul, but he remained aggressive. Lynn threw Moreno a middle-middle slider, and the catcher launched it 420 feet.
— MLB (@MLB) October 12, 2023
The Diamondbacks lead all postseason clubs with 13 home runs in five games, as eight of their nine starters in the lineup have gone yard.
The Dodgers chipped away in the seventh inning with two runs off Ryan Thompson, but rookie lefty Andrew Saalfrank recorded the final out to bridge to Kevin Ginkel and Sewald.
Ginkel walked pinch hitter Kolten Wong to lead off the eighth inning for the top of the order, but he swift punched out Dodgers stars Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman en route to a shutout inning. Sewald allowed a hit and a 407-foot flyout caught by Alek Thomas in center field before inducing a pop fly to end the series.
— MLB (@MLB) October 12, 2023
Betts and Freeman were neutralized by the D-backs’ pitching staff. Among position players, they finished Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, in MLB in fWAR this season and yet finished the NLDS with one combined hit. Freeman had an infield single in Game 2 when he beat D-backs starter Zac Gallen to the bag. That’s it. Betts went hitless and the duo finished 1-for-21.
“You can’t duplicate pitches, you got to change locations, you got change speeds, you got to start on the chalk lines and work your way in and just get a feel for what they’re doing with their at-bats,” Lovullo said. “It was a well executed plan. And maybe we just taught them at the right time. They’re unbelievable players and unbelievable hitters.”
The Dodgers have capable bats to support them, but the advantage they held entering the postseason given their pitching woes was the two-headed monster atop the order. The Dodgers tallied six runs in three games, which the D-backs matched in the first inning of the series against Clayton Kershaw.
The D-backs became the sixth club to ever win a playoff series against an opponent that won 16 or more games.
They jumped back in the Chase Field pool after popping champagne in the clubhouse, as they did when they clinched a playoff spot.
Diamondbacks in the NLCS
Going forward, Arizona will face either the Atlanta Braves or the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS. Game 4 between the NL East rivals in Thursday with the Phillies leading 2-1. Game 5 would be Saturday if the Braves even the series.
The D-backs entered the postseason as the lowest seed, so they will go on the road first for two games. Arizona lost its season series against the Phillies 4-3 and drew against Atlanta 3-3.
The D-backs had reached the NLCS twice in franchise history entering Wednesday. In 2007, they lost in a sweep to the Colorado Rockies. In 2001, they beat the Braves and won the World Series against the New York Yankees.
They only won 84 games in the regular season, but teams have won the title with fewer. The St. Louis Cardinals did so with 83 wins in 2006.
The D-backs’ execution with offense, defense and pitching all in sync has made them a tough out. Despite their youth, a theme throughout this run is how battle tested the group feels given the playoff race it endured in the regular season.
“I think we took a collective exhale when we got into playoffs,” Lovullo said. “This team was young and acting a little bit nervous and playing a little bit nervous. But once we got in, I felt like they were capable of connecting the way they have.”
Chase Field atmosphere
The stands at Chase Field were packed with fans in Sedona red and black. In regular season games against the Dodgers, there is typically a large presence of blue, but that didn’t appear to be the case on Wednesday.
And it was loud, especially in the third inning when baseballs were flying. It was a new atmosphere for many D-backs players participating in their first home playoff game.
“This crowd was electric tonight. It felt like a different ballpark,” Pfaadt said.
“Nobody’s sitting down in that (third) inning,” Evan Longoria said. “Just a crazy, crazy vibe. We got more coming. Can’t wait to be back here and play in front of this crowd again.”
Gabriel Moreno status
Moreno left the game after getting hit in the right hand by a fouled off bunt attempt from Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor in the fifth inning. Lovullo said his X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day.
Arizona will not play another game until Monday, giving him time to heal.