Diamondbacks suffer rare blown save in Game 1 at Rangers, summon Byung-hyun Kim parallels

Oct 28, 2023, 12:12 AM | Updated: 10:42 am

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Arizona Diamondbacks blew their first late lead of the postseason, as a game-tying home run by Texas star Corey Seager off closer Paul Sewald in the ninth inning set in motion a Rangers win in extra innings during Game 1 of the World Series.

The game last 11 innings until Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia sent an opposite-field homer to the right-field seats against D-backs reliever Miguel Castro. The Rangers won 6-5 and took a 1-0 series lead.

It was Arizona’s first blown save since Sept. 25.

From the World Series dates being the same, former President George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch and an ace pitcher hitting a bird in spring training, the parallels from 2001 to 2023 for the Diamondbacks were uncanny.

But another common thread was pulled in Game 1 with a Diamondbacks closer allowing a game-tying two-run shot on the road, leading to an extra-inning loss.

The D-backs have only played four road World Series games in franchise history, yet this has happened in three of them.

In Game 4 of the 2001 World Series, D-backs closer Byung-hyun Kim surrendered the game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium to New York’s Tino Martinez. The Yankees won on a Derek Jeter walk-off homer in the 10th inning, also hit off Kim.

Game 5 went a similar way, with Scott Brosius providing the game-tying, two-run shot in the ninth off Kim before the Yankees won in 12 innings.

But the past is the past even if fans don’t forget, as manager Torey Lovullo highlighted.

“Nothing there for me, I don’t think any of these players were old enough to possibly remember what was going on at that time,” Lovullo said postgame on Friday. “I know we have some really big baseball fans; they probably remember. But I don’t think anybody is connecting those dots.”

The D-backs entered Texas 9-3 in the playoffs with three losses in which they never held a lead. Sewald was a perfect 6-for-6 in save opportunities and had yet to allow a run.

This was the first time the D-backs’ most trusted relievers had a difficult night in tandem.

Kevin Ginkel allowed a single and a walk and dealt with multiple deep counts that ran his pitch count up. The Rangers getting two runners aboard allowed the top of the order to come back up for a fifth time in the ballgame in the ninth inning.

Sewald dug himself a hole by walking nine-hole hitter Leody Taveras to lead off the frame.

Arizona’s bullpen walked six batters and allowed five hits on Friday in 5.1 innings.

Sewald struck out Marcus Semien, but Seager leapt at a first-pitch fastball up in the zone and crushed it 418 feet, a no-doubter to right.

“I haven’t taken a look at that (pitch), there’s no reason to look at it right now,” Sewald said postgame. ‘The guys told me that it was not a bad pitch. He just hit it. But like I said, it’s the walk that will frustrate me more than anything.”

“Those guys are good, you never want to just give them a strike,” Seager said. You never know if the one you’re supposed to (hit) is the first one, so you’re just kind of always ready.”

Sewald added he wants to get the ball again on Saturday and help the D-backs take Game 2.

He threw 22 pitches on Friday, Ginkel tossed 28 and Ryan Thompson 17.

Arizona walked 10 hitters on Friday overall, three of whom scored, including two against starter Zac Gallen (four walks in five innings).

“You can’t walk 10 batters in a World Series game and expect to hold them in the situation that we held them in,” Lovullo said. “It was a matter of time before something happened. And it did.”

Garcia’s homer off Castro came on a 3-1 sinker that caught too much of the plate. The slugger has now homered in five straight games, the second longest such streak in postseason history.

Garcia set the record for most RBI in a single postseason with his walk-off homer at 22. He’s driven in a run in seven straight games.

The Diamondbacks trailed the Phillies 2-0 in the NLCS and came back, but more than four out of five teams that take a 2-0 lead win seven-game series historically.

“Disappointing way to start the series but we lost the first two in Philly and managed to win that one and we’ll have to answer back as we have all season,” Sewald said.

Arizona will turn to Merrill Kelly to continue his success from Game 6 of the NLCS in which he allowed one run in five innings.


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