Diamondbacks snapshots: Moments that led underdogs to World Series
Oct 27, 2023, 12:47 PM
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON — The Arizona Diamondbacks entered the 2023 season looking to be competitive with the pendulum swinging in their direction.
They took that a step further to reach the World Series for the first time in 22 years, which starts on Friday against the Texas Rangers
With an influx of young talent on the Opening Day roster like Corbin Carroll, key offseason pickups Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno and a reliable top of the rotation with Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, the D-backs started as one of MLB’s hottest teams through June.
But they fell off entirely in July and into August, as they went 16-34. That’s the worst 50-game span by an eventual pennant winner ever, so how did a Diamondbacks team that experience such highs and lows in a single season run through the National League?
Moments that led the Diamondbacks to the World Series:
March 11: Diamondbacks invest in Corbin Carroll
Starting with spring training, the D-backs locked in their top prospect before his rookie season, a show of trust in the 22-year-old Carroll’s makeup and ability.
Carroll rewarded the organization with a historic first season in which he hit 25 home runs and stole 54 bags.
April 9: D-backs take 3 of 4 from Dodgers
The D-backs faced a gauntlet scheduled to start the season with eight of the first 10 games against the defending NL West champion Dodgers. But Arizona worked a split in L.A. to open the season and came home to win three of four against its rivals. The D-backs scored 31 runs in four games. Could this be a new day for the D-backs in the NL West?
April 20: Madison Bumgarner designated for assignment
The D-backs made the decision to cut ties with their highest-paid player due to performance (10.26 ERA in four starts), a show of urgency with the club off to a promising start.
June 12: Diamondbacks beat Phillies in thriller for 11th win in 13 games
At this point, the D-backs climbed to first place in the NL West. By beating the Phillies at home, they reached 16 games over .500 at 41-25, the best they’d get to all season.
Carroll hit .418 with six home runs during this stretch of games and walked off the Rockies at Chase Field.
June 27: Kelly to IL
The D-backs didn’t have many injuries impact them to that point, but Kelly landed on the IL with a blood clot in his calf which knocked him out for a month. That out a strain on the rotation already short on experience behind Gallen.
July 6: Diamondbacks shut out, swept for first time against Mets
The rate at which the D-backs were winning started to level out, but this series started a sour July for Arizona, which it ended 8-16. The Diamondbacks were shut out 9-0 in the series finale against a Mets team far from contention.
July 18: D-backs take 16-13 win over Braves
The Diamondbacks were swept out of the All-Star break by the Blue Jays and had fallen out of first place. But this incredible game — one in which the lead changed five times — showed what the D-backs could still do — even while reeling — against the league’s best team on the right day. Christian Walker had five RBIs and Kevin Ginkel recorded his first save.
July 22: Brandon Pfaadt recalled
The D-backs called up top pitching prospect Brandon Pfaadt for a third time after the first two went awry. He came back with a tweaked approach on the rubber and became the solidified third guy in the rotation after Gallen and Kelly down the stretch and into the postseason.
July 23: Moreno lands on IL
Moreno had been battling shoulder trouble, and his playing time went down. The D-backs placed him on the injured list to get healthy for the final run.
He missed three weeks, contributing to the downturn of Arizona’s season at this point.
Aug. 1: Diamondbacks buy at trade deadline
The D-backs had a tough July, but they were still in the thick of a wild card race. The front office set the goal to buy at the deadline during spring training, and it came through with the additions of closer Paul Sewald, outfielder Tommy Pham and infielder Jace Peterson.
Aug. 11: D-backs lose ninth-straight game
Disaster struck, as the D-backs fell below .500 with a nine-game losing streak right after buying at the deadline. Sewald blew his first save opportunity against the Twins in Arizona’s sixth-straight loss.
Aug. 19: Diamondbacks sweep Padres doubleheader
The D-backs snapped the skid with series wins over the Padres and Rockies, and they had a doubleheader in San Diego after splitting the first two games of the series.
Arizona pulled through in Game 1 after a Tommy Pham home run against his former team. Arizona went into Game 2 with a bullpen game against San Diego’s Yu Darvish and won 8-1. Gabriel Moreno hit a grand slam in a crushing blow to the Padres’ season, as they fell to five games behind Arizona in the wild card race.
Aug. 27: D-backs select Ryan Thompson
The Diamondbacks found themselves a trusted bullpen arm in the late-season free agent market after Thompson was let go by the Tampa Bay Rays. He came up and recorded a save in his debut.
Arizona revamped its bullpen with Sewald closing, Ginkel in the eighth inning and Thompson in a high-leverage role. It also called up Andrew Saalfrank on Sept. 4, and the lefty became a go-to in the bullpen down the stretch.
Sept. 17: D-backs sweep Cubs
The D-backs found it again, as the offense had come around and the bullpen became a key strength. They won three of four at the Cubs before sweeping Chicago a week later in Phoenix. The Diamondbacks and Cubs flipped in the wild card standings.
Moreno hit a walk-off single on Sept. 16, the game when Evan Longoria past the tag for the win in the 13th inning.
Ultimately, the D-backs claimed the third and final spot despite finishing the year 3-6. Their performance against the Cubs and other contenders like the Reds and Giants over the final six weeks led to their playoff berth.
Oct. 4: Diamondbacks eliminate Brewers
“A connected team is a (expletive) dangerous team!”
The D-backs went on the road for most of the roster’s first playoff series and swept the Brewers in a two-game wild card round. Both wins came from behind, as the young corps looked comfortable on the big stage even while trailing.
Carroll, Marte, Moreno and Alek Thomas all homered in the series.
Oct. 7: Diamondbacks pounce on Dodgers in NLDS
The Diamondbacks went into Dodger Stadium against the team that has plagued them for years and dominated with an 11-2 Game 1 victory. They chased Clayton Kershaw in a six-run first inning and kept the pressure on.
The D-backs scored three first-inning runs in Game 2 in a 4-2 win. Game 3 was all about the long ball, as the D-backs became the first team to hit four in a single inning during the postseason (Perdomo, Marte, Walker and Moreno).
Arizona stars Carroll and Marte outproduced L.A.’s Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, and the D-backs allowed six runs in three games.
Oct. 24: Diamondbacks win the pennant
The D-backs lost the first two games of the NLCS at the Phillies, including a 10-0 Game 2 blowout.
But Arizona grinded out a 2-1 win on a walk-off hit by Marte in Game 3 and came back in Game 4 after a Thomas game-tying homer off Craig Kimbrel.
The Phillies led the series 3-2 going back home, but the D-backs jumped ahead in Game 6 on back-to-back jacks by Pham and Gurriel. Kelly threw five innings with one earned run in a 5-1 victory to set up Game 7.
The D-backs took Game 7, 4-2, after a three-hit night from Carroll and five shutout frames by the bullpen to capture their first pennant since 2001.
“I think us coming out of that rough stretch, giving ourselves enough time to play the baseball that we knew we were capable of,” Gallen said Thursday. “I don’t know that there was one turning point, but right around that nine-game losing streak in August I think was where everything shifted.”
Game 1 of the World Series from Globe Life Field in Arlington begins at 5:03 p.m. on Friday.