D-backs slug way to victory vs. Crew's best in Game 1

October 4th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- Known more for their speed than their power, the D-backs showed they can slug too as they hit three homers to beat the Brewers, 6-3, in Game 1 of the National League Wild Card Series on Tuesday night at American Family Field.

The win puts the D-backs in great position in the best-of-three series. While the Brewers had their ace, Corbin Burnes, going in Game 1, Arizona now has its top two pitchers, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly, lined up to pitch Game 2 and, if necessary, Game 3.

In the history of the best-of-three Wild Card Series, which includes 2020 and ’22, Game 1 winners have gone on to win the series 10 of 12 times (83 percent). However, both teams that have rallied from a Game 1 loss did so as the home team. Of the eight teams to win Game 1 on the road, six won the series, including five via sweep.

“We know we’ve got our hands full right now,” Brewers third baseman Josh Donaldson said.

The D-backs, though, are not making plans for the NL Division Series yet.

“You win Game 1, it feels good,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We have to do it right and take nothing for granted and stay humble and come here tomorrow and play our finest game and try to close them out. They’re going to come with everything they have. That’s for sure.”

Things didn’t look promising for the D-backs early on as the Brewers handed Burnes a 3-0 lead, scoring once in the first and twice in the second off Arizona starter .

But in the third, got the D-backs’ offense going with a two-run homer off Burnes, and followed with a blast of his own on the very next pitch to tie the game. also took Burnes deep in the fourth inning.

“That was the spark,” first baseman Christian Walker said of Carroll’s homer. “It just kind of let everybody know, hey, we’re in this. The confidence to see somebody turn around a good pitch, it was like, ‘Hey, stay locked in, he’s going to make mistakes.’ But that was the spark. It kind of took the edge off.”

At 23 years and 43 days old, Carroll became the youngest D-backs player to hit a home run in a playoff game.

The D-backs finished the regular season on a four-game losing streak, with the offense struggling to score runs. Lovullo said at that time that the team’s younger hitters needed to have more “mature at-bats” in terms of not making early-count outs.

The first time through the order, Burnes handled the D-backs, but they did put some good at-bats on him and made him throw a bunch of pitches before exploding for the three runs in the third.

“They were more waiting it out,” Burnes said. “They weren’t super aggressive. They did a good job of not chasing a ton of pitches and when I left the ball up, they didn’t miss.”

Once the D-backs got the lead, the bullpen took over, with Joe Mantiply, Miguel Castro, Ryne Nelson, Ryan Thompson, Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald combining to toss 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

Lovullo felt OK about using his bullpen so heavily because he knew he had Gallen and Kelly set to start, both of whom have a history of pitching deep into games.

“I just think the resilience that each guy showed and the way the game was pieced together from a managerial perspective, it was all incredibly impressive,” Carroll said.

Gallen was one of the final players to depart the clubhouse Tuesday night, his laptop in his bag so he can spend tomorrow doing his gameday prep work.

There’s no one the D-backs would rather have on the mound than Gallen in a big game, though Kelly would be a close second. Still, while they’re one win away from advancing to face the Dodgers, they also know they are one loss away from the series being even.

“I think we feel pretty good,” third baseman said. “But you shouldn't take anything for granted in the playoffs. You know, we still have to go out there and perform. [Brewers Tuesday starter] Freddy Peralta has been really good all year. We're going to have our hands full again and in a game like tomorrow for them, it's going to be all hands on deck.”