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Diamondbacks Defeat Philadelphia Phillies On Ketel Marte’s Walk-off In Must-Win NLCS Game 3


The Arizona Diamondbacks promised themselves they would not lose easily.

They thought it would just take one significant hit, one outstanding outing by a pitcher, and one lucky break.

Then, on Thursday afternoon, the D-backs went out and demonstrated their superiority, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies’ closer Craig Kimbrel 2-1 thanks to a walk-off single by Ketel Marte that sparked an exuberant celebration at Chase Field.

The Diamondbacks have not won a World Series since 2001, when they last won one in the National League Championship Series.

The D-backs, who are already behind two games to one in the NLCS, are suddenly competitive and full of belief that they can pull off the upset.

The D-backs will start with a bullpen in Game 4 on Friday against Cristopher Sanchez, and in Games 5 and 6, they will start with co-aces Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen.

Starters Brandon Pfaadt and Ranger Suárez engaged in a fantastic pitching duel that ultimately came down to the bullpen and a chess play between D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and Phillies manager Rob Thomson.

When Lovullo removed Pfaadt from the game in the sixth inning with two outs, he set himself up to be forever associated with Kevin Cash, the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. It brought back flashbacks of Cash pulling pitcher Blake Snell against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 World Series, a move that ultimately backfired.

When Lovullo withdrew the 25-year-old from the game, he was pitching the best game of his career, allowing only two hits and striking out nine in his shutout stint.

After watching Pfaadt absolutely demolish the Phillies and become the only rookie in playoff history to strike out at least nine batters without a walk (with Don Newcombe of the 1949 Los Angeles Dodgers), the sellout crowd of 47,075 vehemently criticized the decision.

Relying on a young bullpen, the Diamondbacks saw the Phillies take advantage in the seventh inning when left-hander Andrew Saalfrank walked Bryce Harper, his second walk in three at-bats. Alec Bohm welcomed Ryan Thompson with an infield single before he was replaced.

Just as it appeared like Thompson might get away with it, he pulled a slider past catcher Gabriel Moreno to the backstop, allowing Harper to score the opening run. Thompson had forced a double-play grounder by Bryson Stott.

Tommy Pham got the first hit of the series off Phillies reliever Orion Kerkerig, but the D-backs, who were hitting.083 when anyone other than Ketel Marte (5-for-11) was at bat, answered right back. Alek Thomas, a pinch runner, took his place and scored on Lourdes Gurriel’s double in the left-field corner using his quickness.

With runners on first and third and no outs, the D-backs had a prime opportunity to grab the lead. However, reliever Jose Alvarado entered the game and recorded three outs on three pitches via a double-play ball and a bouncer to the mound.

The Phillies’ pitching has been excellent this postseason, yielding a 1.39 ERA, even if their sluggers get all the attention. With his five-and-a-half shutout innings, Suárez tied Pfaadt and dropped his lifetime ERA to 0.94 in eight postseason starts—the lowest of any pitcher in playoff history—beating out Sandy Koufax’s 0.95 ERA.

The Phillies’ response in the following two games at Chase Field will be interesting to see.

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