Missed opportunities putting Diamondbacks in World Series hole vs. Rangers

Oct 30, 2023, 10:56 PM | Updated: 11:03 pm

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks had their chances to close out Game 1 and build momentum in Game 3 but trail the World Series against the Texas Rangers entering a critical fourth installment.

Arizona blowing Game 1 late to fall in extras loomed large when the Rangers recorded the final out of a 3-1 Game 3 victory on Monday.

The D-backs did not create many chances to score during the first World Series game at Chase Field since 2001 (then Bank One Ballpark), unlike Game 2’s 9-1 victory. But moments in the second and eighth innings brought the sellout crowd to a rouse only to fizzle out in different ways.

A trucked-through stop sign and fortunate bounce for Texas ended an opportunity for the D-backs to get rolling early and continue the offensive avalanche from the end of Saturday’s game.

Christian Walker doubled to lead off the second but was thrown out trying to score on a Tommy Pham single to right field.

Adolis Garcia has a 95th percentile throwing arm, and with no outs, he put a one-hopper 95 mph on the money.

Walker explained that he got a late read on the ball in the air and tried to make up the ground.

“I think I just got a little bit sped up trying to make up for that shuffle and had my head down trying to make a tight turn around third, really trying to get to the plate. The last time I looked at (third-base coach Tony Perezchica), he was waving and I never saw a stop sign. Just probably just trying to do too much there.”

The stop sign came late after Perezchica initially waved him in.

Alek Thomas chopped a ball up the middle but it ricocheted off pitcher Max Scherzer. Third baseman Josh Jung barehanded it and threw a strike to first to end the inning.

Manager Torey Lovullo called it a huge momentum swing. The D-backs could have had runners on the corners with no outs.

“I’m not going to lie, it hurt a little bit,” Lovullo said. “And they turned around and scored three runs. That was a big moment. We got flat there for a couple innings.”

Texas went up 3-0 the following half inning off D-backs starter Brandon Pfaadt, who kept the Rangers at three through 5.1 innings.

Pfaadt made his most costly mistake of the postseason trailing 1-0 with a runner on first base. His low-outside changeup landed middle-in, and Seager blasted it 421 feet to right field. Pfaadt knew Seager was going to be aggressive early given his tendencies. He got him to bounce out in the first inning on a first-pitch sinker on the outside edge. Pfaadt just missed.

Diamondbacks double play

Fast forward to the eighth inning, the score was still 3-0. Rangers reliever Jon Gray entered in the fourth after Scherzer left with back tightness, and he shut down the D-backs for three scoreless innings.

Lovullo and Rangers manager Bruce Bochy played a game of chicken, similar to Game 2.

Bochy left right-hander Josh Sborz in the game, and Lovullo countered with Pavin Smith as a pinch hitter for Evan Longoria. Bochy went to the bullpen to grab Aroldis Chapman, and Lovullo pulled Smith for Emmanuel Rivera.

Rivera went the other way on a sinker and drove a double to lead off the inning. The crowd, after not having much to cheer about, was back in and waving the rally towels, and shortstop Geraldo Perdomo kept it that way. He dropped a single into left field to score the run with the top of the order coming up.

Corbin Carroll saw five straight 100-101 mph heaters before Chapman placed an 89 mph slider in the zone for strike three.

“Just came out a different tunnel than some of the pitches before, kind of froze me,” Carroll said.

Ketel Marte saw a first-pitch sinker low in the zone and ripped a 114 mph grounder toward the middle. Seager slid to his left and on a knee made a backhanded flip to second baseman Marcus Semien to turn the double play. It was a bang-bang play at first base which the D-backs challenged but lost. If that ball gets through, the D-backs have runners on the corners with Gabriel Moreno and Walker due up.

Other than the Seager home run, the Marte double play was the hardest hit ball of the game. It was the hardest hit ball to be turned into a double play in the Statcast era (2015).

The defense on both sides all series has been stellar, and the Rangers went the extra mile in two of the most impactful moments of the game.

“You look at what those guys did tonight. (Garcia), what a throw he made at home. And, of course, Corey getting that big double play,” Bochy said. “Josh Jung, the ball that deflected off of Max. Just a great game defensively. And it shows you what defense can do. It can win a ball game for you. And it helped us win tonight.”

Diamondbacks turning the page

The two innings resulting in one run were devastating with the lack of activity outside it. The D-backs totaled two hits for the rest of the game.

“I think our offense is very capable against any type of pitching, whether it’s a reliever or starter,” Lovullo said. “We just got beat. We got out-executed. And we’ve got to figure that out.”

Arizona went down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning, albeit with the asterisk of a strike two call that had Moreno jumping on a would-be walk to lead off the frame. He grounded out instead.

That was out of the D-backs’ control, but what is surrounds how they respond.

“It kind of just is what it is, we didn’t put runs on the board today,” Carroll said. “You learn from it, reflect and take those lessons into tomorrow.”

“That’s the exciting part of the postseason is the long series, the opportunity to make an adjustment and learn from mistakes,” Walker said. “You’re gonna see the relievers a handful of times, you’re gonna see a couple of starters twice so even though it’s win at all costs, I think learn from mistakes from things you do well moving forward and how you can use that in this series.”

Looking at Game 4

The D-backs are 2-1 after losses this postseason and will turn to the bullpen game on Tuesday. Joe Mantiply will start against Rangers lefty Andrew Heaney.

Arizona was able to avoid using its high-leverage relievers, who will be rested for Game 4.

Texas, meanwhile, removed Garcia from the game late with a reported oblique injury — Bochy said postgame he was undergoing an MRI for left-side tightness — that could prove consequential for the rest of the World Series.

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Missed opportunities putting Diamondbacks in World Series hole vs. Rangers