Newcomers push D-backs to 6th straight win, second NL Wild Card spot

August 26th, 2023

PHOENIX --   and didn’t have the best introduction when they arrived in Arizona after being acquired at the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline. But in Friday night’s 10-8 victory over the Reds at Chase Field, both players showed why the D-backs invested in them to help them with the playoff chase.

After Alek Thomas tied the game in the fourth inning with an RBI single, Peterson stepped up to the plate with men on first and second. He swung on the first pitch he saw from Hunter Greene for a two-run triple to put the D-backs up 3-1. A couple of batters later, Pham stepped up with the bases loaded and ripped a slider for a single to bring in a pair of runs, extending the D-backs’ lead.

The D-backs survived a wild game, extending their win streak to six games and staking a claim to the second National League Wild Card spot, a half-game ahead of the Cubs. Cincinnati and San Francisco both trail the Cubs by one game.

After starting August with a nine-game losing streak, Arizona has won 11 of its last 13 games. 

“It was a really good day for our offense,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “It was an all-field approach. It was patience and it equaled 10 runs and we're in a good spot offensively. I want that to continue.”

Everyone in the D-backs’ clubhouse knows the importance of this series, especially after the Reds swept the D-backs in July. But Arizona can’t let up because Cincinnati needs just one win in this pivotal four-game set to secure the season-series tiebreaker advantage.

“Tomorrow is Game 3 against a very good Reds team,” Lovullo said “And I want us to enjoy this. We earned this one. It was hard fought. But we’ve got to turn the page and be ready.”

In his first six games with the D-backs following his trade from the Mets, Pham was hitting .143. But after going 1-for-4 on Friday, he extended his hitting streak to 15 games, the longest active streak in the Majors.

In the seventh inning, it seemed like Pham added a home run to his tally, but it was overturned as a young fan in the stands reached over and pulled the ball out of outfielder Spencer Steer’s glove.

Peterson, acquired from the A’s at the Trade Deadline, struggled in his first 17 games with Arizona, compiling a slash line of .143/.286/.143 with just two RBIs. But Peterson has left his mark in this series. On Thursday, he hit a pinch-hit RBI single that gave the D-backs their first run of the game and on Friday he went 2-for-4 with two triples and three RBIs.

“It's been a long time coming. He's been working his butt off for that,” Lovullo. “… It's just a balanced approach that he's been searching for. Its hands through the baseball. And it was nice to see him get some results because I know how hard he's been working.”

Rookie pitcher Brandon Pfaadt allowed two runs on three hits and struck out five in 5 1/3 innings to earn his first big league win. Through July 29, Pfaadt had an 8.20 ERA, but the right-hander has improved in  August, posting a 3.03 ERA in five starts.

Pfaadt, with the help of pitching coach Brent Strom, changed his delivery to the first-base side, which complements his lower arm motion. 

“As a professional player, I think you’re always going to have that confidence, or else you're kind of down in the dumps,” Pfaadt said. “I always have that confidence to keep going. That's kind of how I was raised, and that's how I try to live life, always keeping that confidence no matter what and keep rolling.”

Pfaadt finding his groove was crucial for the D-backs because they need reliable pitching beyond Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. 

“This past month, he's been really good,” Lovullo said. “ I can just see the train moving. He gets out there and he's executing pitches. And one pitch, one mistake, one miss isn't throwing him off track. He's right back at it.”