PHILADELPHIA -- Before departing Citizens Bank Park late Wednesday night following a loss to the Phillies, D-backs left fielder David Peralta had a message for a reporter asking about how his team would respond the next day.
"We'll be ready," he said.
The D-backs were in fact ready from the get-go Thursday afternoon as they rode a three-run first inning and a strong pitching performance from Matt Koch to an 8-2 win over the Phillies.
With the win, the D-backs still have not lost consecutive games this year and they captured their eighth series to open the season. That is the most series wins to open a season by a National League team since the 1977 Dodgers won eight. The all-time NL record is held by the 1907 Cubs, who won their first 11 series, and the Mariners opened the 2001 season with nine.
"It's really fun to go into a town or be at home and win that first game and show up the second day with a chance to win the series," reliever Archie Bradley said. "We understand what it takes. We understand the situations. There's a moment in every game where we just understand getting to second or stealing that bag or whatever it is, that's kind of the moment that lets us take over the game."
The series wins have helped the D-backs get off to the best start in the NL at 17-7. Impressive, sure, but even more so when you consider that they are missing key pieces.
Outfielder Steven Souza Jr. has missed the whole year due to a right pectoral strain, third baseman Jake Lamb has played in just four games after spraining his left AC joint and Taijuan Walker has been lost for the season to Tommy John surgery.
"I was talking to Lamb last night through text messages and I was like, 'Dude, I just keep picturing a full lineup,'" Bradley said. "Nothing against the guys who are starting and playing now, but I think that's what everyone keeps saying. You look at the way we're winning, our starters, our bullpen, our defense.
"And, yeah, collectively we may not be hitting as a whole but we're hitting when we need to. With the way we've thrown the ball and the way we've played defense, it's exciting. If we're doing this with the guys now and we're missing two power hitters, what is the rest of the season going to play out to be?"
Jarrod Dyson and Chris Owings have filled in for Souza in right while Deven Marrero and Daniel Descalso have taken over for Lamb at third.
Koch has pitched in place of Walker twice and has a 1.93 ERA.
"We're missing Souza and Lamb, and those guys both hit 30 bombs [last year], so that's 60 bombs sitting on the DL right now," Dyson said. "Guys are just stepping up. You've got Deven stepping up, you've got Descalso stepping up, I've got to step up, C.O. doing his job. And that's all you can ask for."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Early blow: The D-backs struck first and they struck hard. After Peralta led off the game with a single off Ben Lively, Dyson smacked a homer over the wall in right, his second of the series, as the D-backs grabbed a quick 2-0 lead. It became 3-0 later in the frame and provided Koch with some early breathing room.
"We got off the mat from a tough loss last night," manager Torey Lovullo said. "We were prepared. We scored three runs. You jump ahead of a team like the Phillies and don't really let them catch their breath, and I thought we did a good job of that with Lively. I thought that was the difference in the game today."
Four runs seems to be the magic total for the D-backs these days. They are 15-1 dating back to Sept. 26, 2017, when they score four or more runs in a game.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Koch flashed some leather in the first inning when he snagged Odubel Herrera's smash up the middle. Koch reached behind his back with his glove and the ball found its way in there, and he was able to easily throw out Herrera at first.
HE SAID IT
"The guys come every day prepared, ready to win. So if you beat us, you beat us prepared. That's how we come in every day, and I love it so far because anybody can hurt you on any given day, and that's the fun part of this team." -- Dyson
The D-backs open a three-game series with the Nationals on Friday at 4:05 p.m. MT at Nationals Park. Zack Godley will get the start for the D-backs opposite righty Stephen Strasburg. Godley won his last start against the Padres when he allowed a pair of runs in 5 1/3 innings. He has pitched well at Nationals Park, going 2-0 and not allowing a run in three games (one start) over 10 1/3 innings.