D-backs defuse Phillies' home-field edge, force decisive Game 7

October 24th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- Sleep is not going to come easy for Corbin Carroll on Monday night, and the D-backs outfielder wouldn’t have it any other way. It won’t be nerves that keep him up, but instead, the excitement that comes with knowing Tuesday night he and his teammates will be playing in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

The D-backs extended their season by beating the Phillies, 5-1, in Game 6 on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park. It was the D-backs' first elimination-game win on the road (previously 0-4) in franchise history.

“Tomorrow is it,” Carroll said. “It’s win or go home. I think everyone in here is just obviously incredibly excited.”

With a win, the D-backs would advance to the second World Series in franchise history. That World Series also marked the last time the D-backs played in a Game 7; it ended with Luis Gonzalez’s walk-off hit against Mariano Rivera.

That was at Chase Field. This Game 7 will be at Citizens Bank Park, which is a little less intimidating for the D-backs after they became the first team to beat the Phillies in their home ballpark this postseason.

Philadelphia was 6-0 at home this postseason and had won 11 straight postseason home games against NL opponents. The Phillies had also been 5-0 in potential postseason clinchers under manager Rob Thomson.

The D-backs will have a good chance to finish off the series upset if they repeat the formula that worked so well for them in Game 6.

That included getting an outstanding pitching performance from starter , an early lead and showcasing their usual aggression on the basepaths.

The early lead helped quiet a sellout crowd that had come hoping to see the Phillies clinch their second straight trip to the World Series.

“It was considerably more quiet for those middle innings when I think things can get really ramped up here,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “I just feel like those early runs let us exhale a little bit. It's an elimination game for us. We know what's at stake. We knew what we had to do, and we were in the middle of doing it. I think we just started to relax a little bit, and we just continued to capitalize throughout the course of the day.”

The D-backs finally got going on the bases, matching the club record for stolen bases in a postseason game with four. This came after making only one stolen-base attempt in Games 1-5.

“We were able to get the relievers in the game well earlier today, and I thought that helped us get some stuff going on the basepaths especially,” Carroll said.

The D-backs got back-to-back homers from and as part of a three-run second inning off Phillies starter Aaron Nola. It was the third time this postseason the D-backs had hit back-to-back homers, tying the 2007 Red Sox for the most in a single postseason.

While they got an early lead, Kelly was pitching a gem, allowing one run on three hits over five innings before he was removed by Lovullo.

In all best-of-seven postseason series, teams that have won Game 6 to force a Game 7 have come out on top in that winner-take-all contest 34 of 60 times (57%). Teams playing in their home ballparks are only 62-64 all time in winner-take-all postseason games, including 30-28 in best-of-seven series.

With this D-backs team, though, you can throw out the numbers and conventional wisdom. Heck, who expected them to be playing in a Game 7 for the right to go to the World Series?

Did Carroll when Spring Training started?

“I did not,” he said with a smile.

And after dropping the first two games of the series in Philadelphia, it didn’t seem like they would be back for a Game 6, much less win one.

“It speaks a lot about the guys in that clubhouse, especially against this team,” Pham said. “It's just sometimes when you count a team out from the get-go and when that team easily falls behind 0-2, you get that perception. But we always felt like if we got some good pitching, played great defense and we played our game, that we could win this.”

They are one sleepless night away from doing so.