Resilient D-backs bounce Crew, set up NLDS showdown with Dodgers

October 5th, 2023

MILWAUKEE -- As he paced in the visitor’s dugout at American Family Field late in Wednesday night’s game against the Brewers, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo couldn’t help but think back to two years ago.

It was 2021 and Arizona was en route to a 110-loss season. Lovullo just watched his team butcher a play in the field so badly, he couldn’t take it anymore. So when they returned to the dugout at the end of the inning, Lovullo did something he had never done before. He called them together at one end of the dugout and screamed at them at the top of his lungs.

“I just lost my mind,” Lovullo said. “It wasn’t a proud moment.”

On Wednesday night, Lovullo screamed once again -- but this time, it was in the clubhouse. Instead of chastising his team, he was singing its praises following a 5-2 victory to sweep the Brewers in the best-of-three NL Wild Card Series.

“It’s come full circle,” Lovullo said.

It was the D-backs’ first postseason series win since 2007, when they swept the Cubs in the NL Division Series before being swept by the Rockies in the NL Championship Series.

The D-backs are in the postseason for the first time since 2017, when they won a Wild Card Game against the Rockies before being swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS.

Now, the D-backs will square off against the Dodgers in the NLDS once again. The best-of-five series starts Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

By sweeping the Brewers, the D-backs get two days off before opening the NLDS -- and there will be plenty of time to think about the Dodgers. Wednesday night was for celebrating what, according to the seeding, was an upset.

The Brewers won 92 games during the regular season and easily took the NL Central crown. Meanwhile, the D-backs had to scrape and claw to capture the third and final NL Wild Card slot with an 84-78 record. They dropped their final four games of the regular season and certainly didn’t have any momentum coming into the series.

“I think a lot of people counted us out coming into the series,” outfielder Corbin Carroll said. “So it felt good to get the job done, especially in two. We’re going to enjoy this one and then take care of business in L.A.”

It looked early like the Brewers might push this to a third and decisive game when they scored a pair of runs off Arizona ace in the first inning.

But Gallen found his footing after that 32-pitch opening frame and managed to shut the Brewers down for the next five innings.

Meanwhile, the D-backs were held hitless by Freddy Peralta until ’ two-out homer in the fifth. 

Arizona then put together a four-run sixth, thanks in part to a two-run single by , to go ahead, 5-2.

Once again, the D-backs’ bullpen came up big. Rookie Andrew Saalfrank came on in a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the eighth inning and got out of it with no one scoring.

In the two games, Arizona relievers threw 9 1/3 innings and did not allow a run.

“I think the bullpen has been our MVP the last month or so,” Gallen said. “I think it’s the part of our team that’s kept us in a lot of games. I mean, it’s not a secret that they had their struggles in the middle of the year. When you watch these teams that go deep in the postseason, the bullpen is usually the one that kind of prevails a lot. That’s what keeps you in games, so it’s been awesome to watch.

“It’s been awesome as a starter knowing, ‘All right, get through six [and] seven, eight, nine is going to be a lockdown.’ Sure enough, tonight, they did their job again. It’s amazing.”