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8:53 AM / Thursday June 13, 2024

27 Oct 2023

The silence of the bats

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October 27, 2023 Category: Sports Posted by:

The Arizona Diamondbacks are headed to the World Series because the Philadelphia Phillies best hitters came up small when it mattered most.  

By Chris Murray 

For the Philadelphia Sunday SUN

Playing in the first Game 7 in the history of the franchise, the Philadelphia Phillies had all psychological advantages in their favor to win the National League Championship Series. 

They were in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park with a loud, boisterous crowd of 45,397 fans waving red towels. Ranger Suarez was on the mound. It was all right there.

But the tumult and shouting of the fans could not help the Phillies hit with runners in scoring position, nor could it stop the pesky Arizona Diamondbacks from getting on base in just about every inning of the game. 

In the end, Arizona came away with a stunning 4-2 win over the Phillies to win the National League pennant and a trip to the 2023 World Series to take on the American League Champion Texas Rangers Friday night in Arlington, Texas.  It’s the Diamondbacks first trip to the World Series since 2001 when they upset the New York Yankees in seven games. 

When you look at the autopsy of this loss in Game 7, it came to a serious lack of production from the Phillies big hitters. The combination of Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos were 1-for-15. During the regular season, they hit a combined 128 home runs. 

“They just used different pitches, moved the ball around,” said Phillies catcher J.T.  Realmuto. “They were able to get us to chase outside the strike zone quite a bit. They got ahead of us and they got us chasing and when you do that as a pitch staff, you’re usually going to have success and we weren’t able to combat that.”

In Game 6, that same group of hitters went 0-for-13. You have to wonder what changed for the Phillies hitters after starting off the series so well.

“I thought Merrill’s (Kelly) ball well yesterday, and then today I thought we had opportunities to get it done, but we weren’t able to,” said Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper. “I wish I had two pitches back…I feel like I let my team down.” 

With a man on second and one out, Harper hit a deep ball to left center near the 387-foot sign, but the ball fell harmlessly into the glove of National League Rookie of the Year candidate Corbin Carroll.

For the game, the Phillies were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. In the fourth inning, the Phillies had taken a 2-1 lead on an RBI double by Bryson Stout that plated Alec Bohm, who had reached on a walk.

Later in the inning, the Phillies had the bases loaded with two outs and had a chance to break open the game. Unfortunately for the Phillies, rookie centerfielder Johan Rojas struck out to end the threat.  

Phillies manager Rob Thomson said he did not consider pinch-hitting for Rojas, who had a .095 average during the postseason.  

“In order for me to get the right matchup,  I would have had to use two players. If I bring (Jake) Cave (a left-handed hitter), then they bring in (left-handed pitcher Joe) Mantiply, then I gotta pinch-hit for Cave ,” Thomson said. “In the fourth inning, we had the lead at the time with two out, taking your best defender out of the game and wasting two players. I just didn’t think that was the right time.” 

On the offense, the Diamondbacks had base runners in every inning except the fourth. In the first inning, Arizona took a 1-0 lead when first baseman Christian Walker  grounded into a force play at second. That play scored Carroll, who reached on a single and then went to third on another single by catcher Gabriel Moreno. 

The Phillies tied the game in the second inning on a solo-home run by Bohm.   

The Diamondbacks took the lead for good in their half of the fifth inning on a two-out RBI single Carroll that brought home third baseman Emmanuel Rivera, who single to begin the inning.  That play ended the night for Phillies starting pitcher Ranger Suarez, who pitched four and two-thirds and all three runs on six hits with eight strikeouts. 

Arizona added an insurance in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly Carroll that drove home Geraldo Perdomo who scored from third.

Looking back on the series, a lot of Phillies fans will point back to Game 4 in Arizona when the Phillies had a 5-3 lead and put struggling closer Craig Kimbrell on the mound in the bottom of eighth. The former All-Star closer allowed three runs to help the Diamondback. Had the Phillies held on to win that game, they would have been in the World Series. 

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