DAN BICKLEY

D-backs staring adversity in the face after heartbreaking Game 1 loss

Oct 27, 2023, 10:07 PM | Updated: Oct 28, 2023, 12:25 am

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Diamondbacks have defied doubters, haters, critics, skeptics, and the brink of elimination.

Now our baseball team faces a new obstacle, and a painfully familiar World Series opponent:

Adversity.

Sickeningly, the Diamondbacks snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Game 1 on Friday night. They blew a two-run lead with two outs to go and lost 6-5 to the Rangers in 11 innings. Heartbreak doesn’t get any more profound on a baseball field, and it’s been a while since we’ve felt like this.

Hope you wore a chest protector.

“It’s frustrating,” Diamondbacks Manager Torey Lovullo said. “This is how the game goes sometimes. We have to find a way to be resilient, adaptable, and come out with a clean mind and do our best. And I have reason to believe we will.”

Snakebit? The Diamondbacks have played four road games in their World Series history. Three times, their closer has allowed a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Before Game 1, we all marveled at the overwhelming sense of destiny and the eerie comparisons to 2001. Just like he did 22 years ago, former President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch of the first road game. The All-Star Game was in Seattle in 2023, just like it was in 2001. And both seasons featured the absurdity of an ace pitcher killing a bird with a thrown baseball. Back then, it was Randy Johnson. This year, it was Zac Gallen.

The coincidences felt reassuring, like the stars were again aligning for the Diamondbacks. But on Friday night, the comparisons were a little too real.

Back then, it was Byung-Hyun Kim. On Friday, it was closer Paul Sewald, who been perfect in the postseason prior to Corey Seager’s 412-foot blast.

“It was a cool moment, for sure,” Seager said.

The Diamondbacks lost a lot of games like this in the regular season. But this is different. This loss was excruciating, and the lost opportunity will be tough to shake.

For most of Game 1, this felt like a collection of Arizona’s greatest hits: a rough but rugged outing from Gallen, who spotted his team a two-run deficit for the fourth time in five playoff outings; a resilient offense that prides itself on answering back; more basepath chaos from a team that has 12 stolen bases in the past three games; and a lockdown bullpen that seemed to be executing another seamless succession plan.

But the Diamondbacks were also atypically careless. Walks become runs in the postseason, and Arizona pitchers walked 10 batters in Game 1. And it was Sewald’s walk of a No. 9 hitter before facing Seager that did most of the damage.

“Those are some of the things we have to tighten up,” Lovullo said. “You cannot walk 10 batters in a World Series game.”

What a shame. The Diamondbacks seemed so sturdy on the big stage. They were underdogs for the 13th consecutive playoff game on Friday. They were on the brink of their seventh road win in nine tries. They were so close to muzzling media morons who didn’t think an 84-win team belonged in the World Series.

This will test our baseball team, and the Diamondbacks must be careful not to lose two games in one on Friday night.

Twenty-two years ago, the Diamondbacks shook off the ghosts of Yankee Stadium and a series of late-game haymakers to win one of the greatest World Series in history. Resilience in the face of disaster was their defining trait.

But this team is much younger. And we’re going to learn a lot about their heart and their chin in the coming days.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6-10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

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