AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

Diamondbacks outlast Rockies 11-8, advance to NLDS

3 Comments

The Diamondbacks managed to stay just ahead of the Rockies throughout Wednesday night’s National League Wild Card game, eventually securing an 11-8 victory to advance to the National League Division Series.

First baseman Paul Goldschmidt staked the D-Backs to a 3-0 lead with a three-run home run off of starter Jon Gray in the first inning. Ketel Marte tacked on another run in the second on a triple, chasing Gray from the game. Daniel Descalso of all hitters added some more insurance in the third inning with a two-run home run off of Tyler Anderson.

Staring down a six-run deficit after three frames, the Rockies didn’t go down quietly, much to their credit. They put together a four-run fourth inning against Zack Greinke. Gerardo Parra knocked in a run with a single, Mark Reynolds plated one with a ground out, Jonathan Lucroy brought home a run with a double to right field, and Alexi Amarista singled to center to score the fourth run. Greinke was unable to complete the fourth inning.

Things calmed down a bit as neither team scored in the fifth or sixth innings. In the seventh, the Rockies cut the deficit to 6-5 when Charlie Blackmon knocked in a run with a bunt. Archie Bradley, who got the final out in the top of the seventh, stepped to the plate in the bottom half with two outs and two runners on. He swatted a Pat Neshek slider to left-center field for a two-run triple, making it an 8-5 game.

As usual, the Rockies didn’t stay down. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story hit back-to-back solo home runs off of Bradley in the top of the eighth. Pat Valaika represented the tying run in scoring position when he doubled with two outs, but Lucroy flied out to end the frame.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Diamondbacks added yet more insurance. A.J. Pollock drilled a two-run triple to right field off of Greg Holland to make it 10-7. That marked the D-Backs’ fourth triple of the game. Jeff Mathis plated Pollock with a surprise bunt that Holland couldn’t field cleanly.

Fernando Rodney took the hill in the ninth to protect the four-run lead. After allowing a leadoff single to Ian Desmond, Rodney struck out out Charlie Blackmon and D.J. LeMahieu. Desmond took second and third base on defensive indifference, then scored when Carlos Gonzalez singled up the middle. Rodney finally ended the game, getting Arenado to ground out.

The Diamondbacks will open the NLDS against the Dodgers on Friday at 10:30 PM ET. Clayton Kershaw will start that one for the Dodgers.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
1 Comment

If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.