Diamondbacks make history with ninth consecutive series win

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On Saturday, the Diamondbacks improved to a 19-4 record after a nailbiting 4-3 finish against the Nationals. Trailing 3-2 in the eighth inning, A.J. Pollock produced the game-tying RBI single off of Ryan Madson, then returned in the 10th to walk in the go-ahead run. With the win, the D-backs tied the Red Sox for the best record in the majors; more significantly, they clinched their ninth straight series to open the season, a feat that hasn’t been recorded by any major league team since the 2001 Mariners. The last National League team to do it? The Cubs’ championship-winning squad in 1907.

Of course, a potential World Series win is still a good six months away, and there’s no telling how the rest of the D-backs’ season will shake out before then. It’s worth noting that their series wins haven’t come cheap — they’ve taken down the Dodgers, Cardinals and Phillies in that nine-series span — though they’ll have to overpower the Dodgers and Astros in the coming week if they want to improve on their historic record. If Saturday’s win was any indication (including David Peralta‘s first multi-homer performance and a bullpen that currently leads the league with a collective 1.62 ERA), they’re well-positioned to do so.

For now, club manager Torey Lovullo is willing to acknowledge the team’s strength while tempering expectations for what they might be able to accomplish in the months to come. “It just means that we’re doing a lot of things right and we’re a good baseball team,” he told reporters Saturday. “We’re excited about that. We know that we’re having a lot of success and it takes a different approach day by day. We’re always ready to play and perform.”

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.