The Arizona Diamondbacks became the 12th team to force a game seven in National League Championship Series history with a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. They got three runs off Aaron Nola in the second inning, and their starter, Merrill Kelly, made them stand up. He pitched five innings, allowing one run on three hits and three walks while striking out eight, four of them looking. The Arizona bullpen allowed just three hits – all singles – over the final four innings. Nola was lifted in the fifth after giving up four runs on six hits and a pair of free passes.
History Making Game 7 History
The Phillies, who date back to 1883, will play the first game seven in team history. While the D’Backs, who go all the way back to 1998, will be appearing in their second game seven in franchise history. The first was the final game of the 2001 World Series when they beat the New York Yankees 3-2.
It started well enough for the Phillies. After striking out the side around a two-out single in the first inning, Nola got lit up in the second. He hung a breaking ball to Tommy Pham, who deposited it into the seats in left. The next hitter, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., did the same when he turned on a low-and-in sinker. Evan Longoria doubled home Alek Thomas, who had walked, and the Diamondback were up 3-0.
Diamondbacks Force Game 7
The Phils answered with one run in their half of the second when Brandon Marsh knocked in J.T. Realmuto, who hit a leadoff double. Ultimately, it would be a case of missed opportunities for the Phils. Later in the second, they had two on and two out but could do no additional damage. While in the first, they had a pair of runners on, after Kyle Schwarber and Bryce Harper walked, with one out but failed to score. In all, they left five runners on base in the first three innings and would have just three more runners the rest of the game.
The Diamondback scratched across single runs in the fifth and seventh as they look to become the sixth team in Major League Baseball history to win a seven-game series after losing the first two games on the road.
Ranger Suarez will start for the Phillies on Tuesday night, while the D’Backs with go with Brandon Pfaadt.
From the Skip
“It was a little strange,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said about Nola, “because first thing he comes out and he really executed everything. Even in the fourth inning, I thought was a good inning. The second inning, [he] didn’t execute some pitches, and he paid for it. But we didn’t score any runs.”
“I would think so,” said Thomson, when asked if Zack Wheeler would be available out of the bullpen. “It’s going to be all hands-on deck. Everybody but Nola.”
“Zero,” said Thomson when asked about any lineup changes for game seven. Of course, he wouldn’t want to give away the strategy for tomorrow night.
“Tomorrow is like a World Series game,” said Suarez through Phillies’ interpreter Diego Ettedgui, “Win or go home. We’re going to be ready. It an exciting opportunity, and I think tomorrow is going to be a great.”
“Any time you have Ranger on the bump,” said Harper, “we got a really good chance to win. He’s got a good mindset out there, and he’s going to get the job done for us. It’s all about going 1-0 tomorrow.”
Words From the Team
“Obviously, it sucks,” said Schwarber. “You wish you got it done today. It’s an exciting thing, and we’re embracing it.”
“It’s going to be good, anxious nerves tomorrow,” said Schwarber. “This is what you lived for in the backyard – game seven, putting yourself in those situations. It’s gonna be fun.”
“It’s a bad inning right there,” said Nola, who was 3-0 with a .33 ERA in his last four starts when the team could clinch a playoff spot or postseason series. The Phillies won all four games. “I threw too many balls over the plate, and they didn’t miss them.”
Rock Hoffman has been covering sports in the Philadelphia region for over 30 years. He’s been the co-host of a radio show – SportsPage – on the Delaware Valley Radio Network (WRDV.org) in the time. He’s reported on games involving all the Philadelphia teams at the profession and collegiate levels. During his career he’s provided coverage for a Super Bowl, an All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games as well NFL, MLB and NHL playoff games. Additionally, he’s the College Football Editor for Football Stories Magazine (FootballStories.com).