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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.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.