Pregame notes: Diamondbacks expect familiarity at Phillies to be benefit
Oct 23, 2023, 12:50 PM
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA — When Arizona Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly takes the mound at Citizens Bank Park on Monday for Game 6 of the NLCS, he won’t be walking into a new environment.
He was here less than a week ago, pitching in Game 2 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
“The fact that I know the dimensions, know the vantage point from the pitcher’s mound, that type of thing,” Kelly said on Saturday. “I think I can take just the whole in-game experience and … it won’t be fresh.”
The Phillies fed off their rowdy crowd, punching mistake pitches thrown their way in two wins to open the series. But the D-backs did their job at home to force a Game 6. The Diamondbacks got back to Philly on Sunday and headed straight to the ballpark to get work in and feel the cool air.
Manager Torey Lovullo said they even had a police escort.
“I know this team is excited to be back here in Philly,” Lovullo said on Sunday. “There was obviously a chance after losing the first two that we wouldn’t be making this trip back across the country. So, first of all, getting this workout in, getting sight lines here, getting reacquainted with everything was important.”
He said his club should be conditioned for the environment at this point, and many of the players after Game 2 said the crowd positively impacted the Phillies more than it negatively affected the D-backs.
For the first time this season, the D-backs face elimination. They got close at a point down the stretch but never stepped onto the precipice of the offseason until now.
Reliever Joe Mantiply said it doesn’t feel different, that a team doesn’t get this far without adversity.
Lovullo took it further:
“We didn’t come cross-country to get our asses kicked.”
Corbin Carroll turnaround coming?
This has not been Carroll’s series offensively, as he enters Monday 2-for-19 with a walk. But he said a mechanical adjustment before Game 5 has freed him up, and he responded with his hardest-hit single of the series and a near 400-foot fly ball to the deepest part of the park.
“I think when you feel a sense of freedom up there that can give you some confidence, and that, in turn, just everything kind of starts to fall into line,” Carroll said. “Again, just hoping to take that from then and keep that rolling today.”
He will lead off per usual against Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola.
The Phillies’ stars Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper and Trea Turner have all made significant impacts on this series, specifically Schwarber and his five home runs.
Arizona’s Ketel Marte had the walk-off hit in Game 3, while catcher Gabriel Moreno had the game-winner in Game 4.
Can Carroll drive home a win with a performance similar to what he showed in the wild card round and division series?
“I think Corbin is a feel guy,” Lovullo said. “Once he gets that feeling, it can be a great run for him. So we’ll see.”
Gabriel Moreno is good to go
Moreno is in the lineup and batting third after absorbing quite the collision at home plate in Game 5.
Lovullo said on Sunday that Moreno was evaluated by the team physician and was good to go with no need to enter the concussion protocol. He remained in the game after the contact and even singled the following half-inning.
How to stop Kyle Schwarber
Schwarber has homered in every game this series except Game 3. Five of his seven hits left the yard and another was a double of closer Paul Sewald in Game 4.
He had a very specific profile in the regular season: He hit .197 and struck out 30% of the time, but more than half his hits went for extra bases with 47 homers.
“It is unbelievable that every mistake that we make, it’s not a single or a roll-over or a weakly-hit ball, it’s going out of the ballpark,” Lovullo said. “We just can’t make mistakes to him right now. That’s what happens when a major league hitter gets locked in.
“We know there’s holes in there. Every hitter has a hole or two. We just can’t get it to the right spot at the right time.”
Schwarber said he’s not going up there trying to only hit home runs.
He homered off a Kelly changeup in Game 2.