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24 Oct 2023

One more day…

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October 24, 2023 Category: Sports Posted by:

The Philadelphia Phillies will play the first Game 7 in the team’s history thanks to a 5-1 Arizona Diamondbacks victory.

By Chris Murray
For the Philadelphia Sunday SUN

With a 3-2 lead in the National League Championship Series and Aaron Nola on the mound, 45,473 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park were ready to celebrate the Philadelphia Phillies’ second straight trip to the World Series.
Philadelphia Police had put cattle shoots along Broad Street and were prepared for throngs of ecstatic Phillies fans to come streaming down the street, celebrating the chance to take on the Texas Rangers, who knocked out the defending World Series champion Houston Astros 11-4.

But unfortunately, Phillies fans will have to wait for their celebration because the Arizona Diamondbacks refused to go gently into that good night. The Diamondbacks took Game 6 of the NLCS by a score of 5-1, leading to the Phillies having to play their first Game 7 in franchise history.

The Diamondbacks jumped on Nola with a pair of back-to-back home runs from designated hitter Tommy Pham and left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the second inning and never looked back. Third baseman Evan Longoria added an RBI double that scored centerfielder Alek Thomas, who had reached base on a walk to give Arizona an early 3-0 lead.

After the game, Nola, who gave up four runs on six hits in the 4 2/3 innings he pitched in this outing, explained what happened.

“[It was] a curve over the middle to Pham and he took a swing on it,” Nola said. “And then it was not a great pitch to Gurriell. It was a two-seam (fastball) down and into his bat path. That got me right there and then the walk to Thomas scored. It was a ball right over the middle of the plate to Longoria. It was a bad inning right there and they didn’t miss too many balls over the plate.”

After having solid outings in his first three playoff games, Nola finally hit a wall. But the lack of run support he got from the Phillies offense didn’t help things, Phillies manager Rob Thomson said.

“He didn’t execute some pitches and he paid for it, but we didn’t score him any runs again,” he said.

The Phillies scored their only run of the game on an RBI single by centerfielder Brandon Marsh that scored catcher J.T. Realmuto, who had doubled to open the inning. That’s as close as the Phillies hitters would get because they couldn’t solve the riddle of Arizona starting pitcher Merrill Kelly.

In five innings, Kelly had eight strikeouts and allowed just one run on three hits. The real damage of his pitching and Arizona relievers in Game 6 was keeping the Phillies’ best hitters from doing any damage at all. Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, and Nick Castellanos went for a combined 0-for-13 against Arizona pitching.

“(Kelly) was getting ahead. A lot of first-pitch strikes. He did get us to chase a little bit, so we just have to get back in the zone tomorrow and hit it like we can,” Thomson said.

Throughout the regular season and the postseason, the Phillies have had a knack for bouncing back from tough losses. Whether it was the Game 2 loss to the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series or the losses against the Diamondbacks in Games 3 and 4, the Phillies ability to come back from being punched in the mouth — Nick Castellanos’s words, not mine — has been on full display.

Schwarber, who was called out on an ill-fated stolen base attempt in the bottom of the 7th inning in Game 6, believes that his squad hasn’t exhausted all of its comebacks.

“Every time we’ve had something tough happen to us, we’ve responded,” Schwarber said. “If we can play our best game tomorrow, we’re going to the World Series. It’s going to be all hands on deck. It’s going to be fight, scratch, claw. Do whatever you can to score runs.”

For the Phillies historic Game 7, the team will send left-hander Ranger Suarez to the mound against Arizona’s Brad Pfaadt. While no one wanted it to get this far, the Phillies are at home and will have a raucous crowd of fans waiting to descend on Broad Street behind them as they attempt to return to the World Series.

Castellanos likes those odds.

“I like our chances. We all take that,” Castellanos said.

The final game of the National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Arizona Diamondbacks can be seen on TBS or via the Max app. You can also catch the game on WIP 94.1 and on the MLB app.

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