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Diamondbacks reach World Series: Phillies stunned in NLCS as Arizona takes Game 7, wins NL pennant

For the first time since 2001 and the second time in franchise history, the Arizona Diamondbacks are champions of the National League. The D-backs outlasted the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 7 of the Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night (ARI 4, PHI 2). Arizona completed a shocking series comeback after falling behind 2-0 and 3-2 in the best-of-seven series and will take on the Texas Rangers in the World Series starting on Friday.

Right from the start, Game 7 had action and tense moments — the D-backs scored four batters into the game — and the Arizona bullpen kept the Phillies off the board for the final five innings. The D-backs got the big hit and made the big pitch, the Phillies did not. That’s really all it came down to. One team executed at a higher level than the other, and Arizona won its second elimination game on the road in as many days.

Here now are our takeaways from Game 7 and Arizona’s pennant-clinching win.

Carroll’s bat finally woke up

Through the first six games of the NLCS, likely NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll was 3 for 23 (.130) with no stolen bases. That’s after stealing 54 in 59 tries during the regular season. In Game 7, Carroll finally woke up offensively, and he took over the game. He went 3 for 4 with three singles against lefty Ranger Suárez, plus two stolen bases. Both steals led directly to runs too.

Most notably, Carroll stroked a two-out single to center to score Emmanuel Rivera and tie the game 2-2 in the fifth inning. He then stole second base and scored what proved to be the game-winning run on Gabriel Moreno’s single to right.

“A little mechanical thing that I cleaned up that I felt gave me some freedom up there and just some quickness,” Carroll said prior to Game 6 when asked why he expected a breakout game soon. “Hoping to roll that over into (Games 6 and 7).”

In the seventh inning, Carroll plated an insurance run with a sacrifice fly against José Alvarado. He swung through two 100 mph sinkers and was still able to get the run home in a two-strike count. Alvarado held hitters to a .108/.188/.137 line with 57.1% strikeout rate in two-strike counts during the regular season. He’s as tough as they come and Carroll still got the job done.

Carroll is the first player ever with three hits and two stolen bases in a Game 7, and he joins Yoenis Céspedes (2012), Jacoby Ellsbury (2007), Chuck Knoblauch (twice in 1991), and Pepper Martin (1931) as the only rookies to steal two bases in a postseason game. Carroll was excellent in the Wild Card Series and Division Series, and then again in Game 7 of the NLCS.

Phillies offense vanishes

At the end of the day, the Phillies simply did not get enough offense from players other than Bryce Harper, Brandon Marsh, and  Kyle Schwarber. Those three went 21 for 69 (.304) with five doubles, seven homers, and 11 RBI in the NLCS. The rest of the Phillies went 30 for 152 (.197) with six doubles, four homers, and 16 RBI. Three players can only do so much.

The Phillies had opportunities in Game 7. They left the bases loaded in the fourth inning after Brandon Pfaadt clearly pitched around Marsh — it was as intentional as unintentional walks get — to get to No. 9 hitter Johan Rojas with two outs. He struck Rojas out on four pitches, only one of which (the first one) was in the strike zone.

In the seventh inning D-backs lefty Andrew Saalfrank gifted the Phillies two one-out baserunners with walks to Cristian Pache and Schwarber, but Trea Turner and Harper flew out harmlessly. The Phillies went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and the one hit didn’t even score a run. J.T. Realmuto singled in the fourth inning and Bryson Stott could only advance to third.

The D-backs deserve credit. The Phillies scored 15 runs in Games 1-2, the D-backs made adjustments, and held Philadelphia to 15 runs in Games 3-7. Turner went 0 for 14 to close out the NLCS. Nick Castellanos went deep in his first NLCS at-bat and 0 for 23 the rest of the way. Alec Bohm and Stott went 13 for 40 (.260) in the series while hitting 4-5 behind Harper.

To be fair, Bohm (solo homer) and Stott (RBI double) did contribute in Game 7. They drove in their team’s two runs. For all intents and purposes though, it was too little and too late. Manager Rob Thomson wouldn’t change his lineup — “In the playoffs we’re 8-4, and we’re plus-31 run differential with this lineup,” he said prior to Game 7 — even though the offense needed a jolt.

Games 6 and 7 were only the seventh time the Phillies scored three or fewer total runs in back-to-back games at home in 2023. Through Game 2 of the NLCS, the Phillies were giving off team of destiny vibes. By the end of Game 7, their hitters were tight and coming out of their approach, and it cost them a trip to the pennant.

Marte extended his hitting streak

It took until his fourth at-bat, but Ketel Marte — the NLCS MVP — did indeed extend his postseason hitting streak to 16 games. It is the longest hitting streak to begin a postseason career in baseball history, breaking a tie with Marquis Grissom, and it is the fourth-longest hitting streak in postseason history overall. Here are the three players with longer postseason hitting streaks:

  • Hank Bauer: 17 games (1956-58)
  • Derek Jeter: 17 games (1998-99)
  • Manny Ramirez: 17 games (2003-04)

Marte went 12 for 31 (.387) with three doubles and a triple in the NLCS and he’s hit .358/.382/.605 in 12 postseason games overall. He and Yordan Alvarez have been the two best players in the game this October. Marte will now have a chance to extend his hitting streak to at least 20 games in the World Series. He’s a star, has been for years, and now he’s shining on the biggest stage.

The D-backs are going to the World Series

Arizona won 84 games during the regular season, the third fewest ever for a pennant-winner in a non-strike, non-pandemic season. Only the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals (83 wins) and 1973 New York Mets (82 wins) reached the World Series with fewer wins than this year’s D-backs. No matter, Arizona has nine wins in October, the number they needed to hit to clinch a trip to the Fall Classic. They’ll take on the Rangers when the World Series begins Friday at Globe Life Field.

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