D-backs to face Brewers in NL Wild Card Series: 'A clean slate'

October 3rd, 2023

PHOENIX -- It wasn’t the ending the D-backs wanted for their 2023 season, as Arizona lost 8-1 to the Astros on Sunday at Chase Field in the last game of the regular season.

The D-backs only scored two runs in the series sweep.

“These three games, I feel like offensively, we had some little spurts, we had moments of those mature at-bats that I was talking about,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “But, when you look at the full body of work and you only scored a couple of runs for the past 27 innings, I feel like we got to lock it down.

“Those will be the discussions that we have. Hitting coaches will continue to get their messages out and make sure that their hitters are as ready as they can possibly be.”

Even with getting swept to finish the regular season, the D-backs are heading to the postseason, as they clinched on Saturday night, popped champagne in the clubhouse and dove into the right-field pool at Chase Field. 

Now, they’ll be hopping on a flight to Milwaukee and play the Brewers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. The D-backs finished 4-2 against the National League Central champions, with their last encounter coming on June 21.

At the time, the D-backs were 15 games over .500 and led the NL West. They finished 16 games behind the Dodgers, who won the division. The Brewers were 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central. Milwaukee finished the season with a nine-game cushion.

“We have all of our data points,” Lovullo said. “We have all of our information that we collected, and I expect every coach had been doing the same thing that they've been doing all year long, and they wrote down some of their key points. 

“The Brewers are a different team than they were at that point in time. So we've had our scouts sitting on them, and we're gonna sit down as a group tomorrow and as a staff tomorrow, maybe the next day and be as prepared as we can possibly be.”

Sunday’s lackluster offense can be linked with six of the D-backs' starters out of the lineup, but the offensive woes were on display through the first two games.

Arizona finished 1-for-20 with runners in scoring position, leaving 20 runners on base this series. This came in a playoff atmosphere, as the Astros -- the reigning World Series champions -- were fighting for not only a playoff spot but also winning the AL West.

“This is a playoff team,” Tommy Pham said of the Astros. “This is a great test for us. You saw the first two games, great pitching matchups. The only guy we missed is [Framber] Valdez, and he’s really good over there.

“In the postseason, it’s [about] pitching and defense. In our first two games, we saw great pitching from us. We saw great defense. We were just missing the big hit. I got up a couple of times and I didn't deliver.”

In the first two games, starters Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly combined for three runs in 13 1/3 innings, and the bullpen delivered 4 2/3 shutout innings.

With the playoffs beginning on Tuesday, it presents an opportunity for Arizona to reset its offense and display the brand of baseball that got the club into the postseason. And the D-backs are confident they can perform on the bright stage.

“I think it's a clean slate,” Alek Thomas said. “We just got to throw all that away this past series. It’s whatever but definitely a clean slate and get to go in here with an open and clear mind. It's going to be fun.

“They’re a good team, but I feel like we played well against [the Brewers]. So it’s going to be a good series.”