PHILADELPHIA -- After dropping the first two games of the National League Championship Series to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, the D-backs are headed home. But they can’t count on simply a change of venue to be a cure-all.
While they scrapped and battled in dropping Game 1 on Monday night, Tuesday was a different story as the D-backs played sloppy baseball in losing, 10-0.
“Look, we could be playing on the moon,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said afterward. “Everybody is talking about coming into this environment, and I don't care. We have to play better baseball. Everybody has to be better. You can start with the manager and then trickle all the way down through the entire team. We've got to play Diamondback baseball. What we watched out there was not anything that we have done for a long period of time. So we've got to regroup. We have to regroup the troops and find a way to get it done.”
Arizona starter Merrill Kelly did his best to keep the D-backs in the game, allowing a pair of solo homers in the first three innings.
But that two-run deficit felt like a lot more because the D-backs offense could not get going against Aaron Nola, who followed up Zack Wheeler’s strong outing in Game 1 with six shutout innings.
“They’re doing a really good job of executing,” D-backs first baseman Christian Walker said of the Phillies co-aces. “There’s two sides to everything. These are really high-level guys. When they execute, it makes our jobs hard. It’s not an excuse. We need to put ourselves in a position to execute better and make our own luck, if you will. Sometimes the other guy does their job, too.”
Kelly was chased during a four-run sixth inning that started with Kyle Schwarber hitting his second homer of the game and third of the series.
Things spun out of control after that as the Phillies scored another four runs in the seventh, an inning that featured an infield popup that fell when no one called for it and left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. appearing to forget that the ball he caught on the warning track -- a sacrifice fly by Nick Castellanos -- was not the third out of the inning.
Those are the types of fundamental mistakes that drive Lovullo crazy. Combine that with the lack of offensive output and it adds up to a blowout loss.
“Diamondback baseball is grinding out at-bats, having mature at-bats, driving up pitch counts, catching popups, picking up the baseball,” Lovullo said. “You know, the pitching and defense goes hand in hand, and we find a way to score five runs or more and win a baseball game by just being a really smart, stubborn baseball team in all areas.”
The D-backs return home where they expect to have sellout crowds for support, but history is not kind to teams that fall behind 0-2 in best-of-seven series.
Teams taking a 2-0 lead in all best-of-seven postseason series have gone on to win that series 75 of 89 times. Only two teams have rallied in that situation over the last 26 years -- the 2020 Dodgers against the Braves in the NLCS and the 2004 Red Sox against the Yankees in the ALCS.
“Gotta get the next one,” D-backs outfielder Corbin Carroll said. “You know, at this point, 0-2, it is what it is. Gotta focus on the next one. Excited to be in front of our fans. I said it during the Dodgers series when we got to Arizona and I’ll say it again, getting to play playoff baseball in front of our home crowd is special.”
The D-backs will need to find a way to win four of the next five games to beat a Phillies team that went to the World Series last year and is playing with a lot of confidence right now.
“I mean, you can't really draw it up any better than the last two games have gone for us,” Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto said. “We've pitched the ball really well. We've played phenomenal defense. We've hit the ball well also. With that being said, this series is a long ways from being over. That's a really good ballclub over there that we've got to go into their stadium and play now.”