ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks add Pavin Smith to starting lineup for Tommy Pham in Game 5 vs. Phillies

Oct 21, 2023, 2:27 PM

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks inserted Pavin Smith into the starting lineup and removed Tommy Pham for Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.

Smith — a left-handed batter — will slide into the five-hole as the designated hitter between righties Christian Walker and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. against Phillies right-handed ace Zack Wheeler.

Center fielder Alek Thomas also rejoined the lineup after his game-tying home run as a pinch hitter in Friday’s 6-5 win to even the series at 2-2. Evan Longoria moved back to third base, which put Emmanuel Rivera on the bench.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo removed Pham for Smith as a pinch hitter with a runner aboard and one out in the sixth inning of Game 4, and Smith delivered his third single in as many at-bats on a liner to right field.

He came up in a potential inflection point of the series with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, but his chopper to first ended the threat.

Still, Smith has reached base in four of five plate appearances this postseason after making the wild card round roster. He was optioned on Sept. 12 and spent the rest of the regular season in the minors.

Pham, meanwhile, is 1-for-17 over his last five playoff games with seven strikeouts. The veteran had a monster couple games in the NLDS against the Dodgers, including a four-hit night.

“It’s not a popularity contest for me, I have to make tough decisions,” Lovullo said in regards to pulling Pham for Smith in Game 4. “(Pham is) a competitor. Tommy wants to be out there from the first pitch until the last, and he never wants to come off the field. I respect that. I respect Tommy Pham, and I love him. I think at the end of the day, he understands that if it’s somebody else besides him for right now … he’s going to go out there and root on his teammates.

“I know he was upset about the decision we made, but like I said, at the end of the day, I have to do everything I can to win a game.”

Smith went 2-for-2 in Game 3, scoring the winning run from third base on Ketel Marte’s walk-off single to capture a 2-1 victory.

Saturday will be his first career postseason start.

“Trying to keep my heart rate down in big moments, try not to get too jumpy,” Smith said after Game 4. “Be focused on breathing, I think that’s big.”

Smith slashed .188/.317/.325 in 69 regular season games for the D-backs, proving to be a stubborn at-bat but struggling to barrel the baseball.

He is 1-for-9 in his career against Wheeler with a home run. Pham is 5-for-14 with a home run, although he went 0-for-3 off him in Game 1.

The Phillies, meanwhile, will run out the same lineup as the first four games on Saturday against D-backs starter Zac Gallen.

Gallen lasted five innings and 88 pitches with five earned runs — including three home runs — in Game 1 at Citizens Bank Park. The Diamondbacks won a bullpen game on Friday, but Lovullo said he did not expect any relievers to be unavailable despite the workload. Sunday is an off day, but the manager commented that he could ask Gallen for a bit extra if they are short back there.

“It’s going to be within reason, and I’ll be considerate of his up-downs and the amount of work he has had to do per inning to get to that point,” Lovullo said.

Lovullo does not expect a 115-pitch marathon from his ace.

First pitch is at 5:07 p.m. from Chase Field on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app. 

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