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Diamondbacks outlast Rockies 11-8, advance to NLDS

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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.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.