Diamondbacks’ Torey Lovullo: ‘Anything is possible’ in a Game 7

Oct 24, 2023, 3:28 PM | Updated: 3:54 pm

PHILADELPHIA — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said the vibes in his clubhouse hours before Game 7 of the NLCS at the Philadelphia Phillies were normal. He saw players on their phones, having conversations at their lockers, playing games while they were eating cheesesteaks.

He called it business as usual but not without an understanding of what is at stake at Citizens Bank Park: a trip to the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

Lovullo said “anything is possible” in Game 7s, and there are few greater examples of that than the only one in Diamondbacks history. They rallied for two runs against New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the ninth to capture the 2001 World Series.

“It’s one play. It’s one pitch. It’s an unexpected hero. It’s everybody in an all-for-one state of mind,” Lovullo described. “There is a certain competitive focus that you have got to maintain and just make sure that you’re ready for anything that may or may not go your way. How are you going to capitalize on it if it does? How are you going to stop the wave of momentum if it does not?

“One critical play can mean the difference between advancing to the World Series or not.”

He said the feeling walking to the ballpark was the same as Game 6, when the D-backs were against the wall and won 5-1 to force another game.

Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo said the approach does not change on the field with it being Game 7. He reiterated how the D-backs have felt counted out this postseason and making it to the doorstep of the World Series proved they were ready for the moment. Playing in Dominican Winter League playoff games gave him some exposure to this atmosphere, and he said that was more intense for him since the fans were cheering and heckling in his native language.

Closer Paul Sewald said being the underdog doesn’t necessarily mean there is less pressure on the D-backs with both teams playing for their seasons.

“We know it’s Game 7 in the NLCS, the winner gets to go to the World Series, but when you start to put too much pressure on a result rather than a process, that’s when you start to get out of your process and start to not perform the way you can,” Sewald said.

For Lovullo, hearing the outside noise that comes with the postseason can be entertaining, and he pointed out radio personality Christopher “Mad Dog” Russo saying he’d retire if the D-backs won the pennant.

Arizona won 84 games during the regular season, and Lovullo said he did not want to disparage the division winners with 16, 20 more wins. But he felt the best teams go to the playoffs at which point anything can happen, and his team has earned its keep.

“I just know that there’s an underriding theme here that we, A, don’t deserve to be here, B, that we’re going to get our butts kicked and, C, there’s bullies all over the National League that can manhandle us,” Lovullo said. “It really excites me to know that we’re playing in Game 7, and we’re right on the verge of doing something that’s unbelievable and we love proving naysayers wrong.”

Keep it as normal as possible, leave it all out there and go prove the haters wrong; simple mindset for the Diamondbacks with a chance to win their first pennant in 22 years.

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

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