D-backs seal 1st trip to postseason since 2017

Arizona is 3rd team in MLB history to go from 110+ loss season to playoff berth within 3 years

October 1st, 2023

PHOENIX -- Two years after losing 110 games, the Arizona Diamondbacks are headed to the postseason for the first time since 2017.

Early on it seemed that Saturday night was going to be a good one for the D-backs, as all they needed was either to beat the Astros or have the Reds lose to the Cardinals. When the D-backs took the field at the start of their game, the Cardinals were already beating the Reds, 5-0, and by the time the first inning was over, the St. Louis lead was up to 10-0.

The Reds mounted a bit of a comeback, but it would not be enough, as they fell 15-6 just as D-backs first baseman Christian Walker drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the eighth inning.

The D-backs dugout erupted, and the clubhouse staff immediately started covering up the lockers with plastic to protect against the coming celebration.

That the D-backs would fall, 1-0, to the Astros, which allowed Houston to clinch a postseason spot as well, was of secondary concern.

D-backs right-hander Zac Gallen, who will get the ball in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series, was in the dugout when the Reds score went final on the scoreboard.

“I think, when I saw the game went final in St. Louis, I just zoned out of the game for a second,” Gallen said. “It just kind of hit me that we'd been through some things here. We've grinded and everybody had their own struggles and triumphs and whatnot, but I think it just makes it that much sweeter.”

That the D-backs are in the postseason is assured. That they will be the visiting team for all of the games in the best-of-three series is also assured. Who they will play, though, remains to be seen.

The D-backs are currently a half-game behind the Marlins for the No. 2 Wild Card spot. If they finish in the No. 3 spot, they would have to travel to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers. If they are able to pass the Marlins, they would travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies.

That the D-backs are the third team in MLB history to go from a 110+ loss season to a playoff berth in a three-season span, joining this year’s Orioles and the 2013-15 Astros, made the celebration Saturday night more meaningful.

“I think it makes it a little bit more special,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “Considering where we were and where we came from -- 110 losses two years ago -- we just punched a ticket into the postseason. You know, we're one of the top teams in the National League. That didn’t happen by luck, it happened because we’re a trustworthy group and we are ready to compete every single night.”

The season was far from a smooth ride for the D-backs. They started out well, and at the All-Star break, they were 52-39, tied with the Dodgers for the NL West lead.

The D-backs, though, stumbled badly out of the gate following the break, and by Aug. 11, they were 57-59. The postseason at that point seemed like a long way off.

“A lot of people didn't think we would be here,” D-backs right-hander Merrill Kelly said. “It looked like we might have given it away there towards the middle part of the season. So yeah, I'm just excited. Obviously, it'll be my first time in the playoffs in the big leagues so I'm obviously looking forward to the energy. I don’t know if it’s going to be Milwaukee or Philly but either way, I know it’s going to be loud.”

The only two players still on the roster from the 2017 D-backs are second baseman Ketel Marte and Walker. Both have seen the highs and lows during their time in Arizona.

“We kept working,” Marte said. “We never gave up. We kept on working on the little things and put ourselves in a position to win. We’re going to keep winning ballgames, we’re going to be okay.”

It will be the seventh trip to the postseason for the D-backs in their 26-year history, which includes the World Series title in 2001.