Game 3, and the first in Arizona. A matchup between Ranger Suárez, who has been lights out this postseason, and Brandon Pfaadt, a rookie who has struggled in his first campaign. The matchup favored the Phillies. But strange things happen in October, as we draw towards All Hallow’s Eve. Such as, for instance, the mysterious vanishing of an entire offense.
The first was a slow one for the Phillies offense, and, as it would turn out, a harbinger of things to come. Kyle Schwarber would not start this game with a signature leadoff homer, as he struck out looking. Trea Turner reached base on a single to right, but Bryce Harper hit into a double play to end the inning.
Ketel Marte started out the D-backs’s day with a sharp grounder to third, but Alec Bohm made a good play ( something that’s becoming an increasingly common sight) to stop the ball and get the out. Suárez struck out the next two, one swinging, one looking, to end the first in order.
In the second, Alec Bohm popped out and Bryson Stott swung and missed on a pitch low and inside to end a battle of an at bat. Realmuto followed Stott in suffering a K. The Diamondbacks put their first baserunner aboard with a Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit that bounced off Stott, but otherwise went quietly.
In the top of the third Brandon Marsh put a the ball into right field for a double, aided by some sloppy fielding from Tommy Pham, still reacclimating to the outfield after an injury-induced exile. But Johan Rojas and Schwarber struck out, and Marsh had to trot back to the dugout rather than cross home plate.
As the Diamondbacks began their half of the 3rd, Emmanuel Rivera hit a ball that looked like the first run off the night off the bat. But it died in the outfield and landed quietly in Marsh’s glove. Marte had better luck, slapping a liner to reach second. But the Corbin Carroll hit a gentle grounder to Bohm, and the game remained scoreless.
The 4th started with yet another strikeout, Pfaadt’s 7th overall; Turner was the victim. Harper and Bohm put the ball in play, but otherwise fared no better. The Phillies pitching kept pulling their weight and then some in the bottom of the inning. Christian Walker lived up to his name and drew one against Suarez with one out, but a strikeout and groundout left him stranded.
The Phillies continued to flounder against Pfaadt in the top of the 5th (say that 5 times fast), going down in order; the Diamondbacks dutifully did the same in the bottom half.
Pfaadt quickly dispatched Marsh and Rojas in the top of the 6th. With Schwarber and the dreaded third time through the order looming, Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo pulled Pfaadt to the sound of boos from the Diamondbacks faithful. He had allowed 2 hits and accrued 9 strikeouts. Andrew Saalfrank was the replacement. He walked Schwarber, but induced a grounder from Turner to end the half-inning with the game still scoreless.
Ketel Marte began the 7th with a blast to left-center that just stayed in; he took a double as a consolation prize. Carroll hit a sharp grounder only to be robbed by a diving Stott, who threw the ball to a sprinting Suárez for an out (a reminder that only a minimum-innings criteria separated Suarez from being joining Stott on yesterday’s Gold Glove finalists list). Suarez was then pulled for Jeff Hoffman, who deftly navigated the inning to its scoreless end.
The 7th began with a Harper walk, prompting the replacement of Saalfrank with Ryan Thompson. Bohm chopped at a ball that dribbled just far enough to be fair, and not far enough for a play to be made. About as unimpressive as a single gets, but the Phillies happily took it. Stott grounded into a double play, advancing Harper to third. The Phillies, it would seem, just couldn’t get the hit they needed to break through.
Fortunately, you can score without hitting if the pitcher throws a wild pitch, which Thompson did. 1-0 Fightins. Realmuto struck out moments later, but they had their lead.
The Phillies brought out their own rookie hurler, giving Orion Kerkering the bottom of the 7th. For the first time in his young career, Kerkering faltered. Tommy Pham hit a single to center to start the inning. Alek Thomas was called in to pinch-run. The call to go with speed paid off, as a Gurriel Jr. double sent Thomas home to tie it. Pavin Smith replaced Evan Longoria as Lovullo continued to tinker. Pavin singled to right, putting runners on the corners. Kerkering was pulled without recording a single out, and José Alvarado came in for the emergency cleanup. He quickly produced a grounder from Rivera which became a 6-4-3 double play; the infield’s choice to play in kept Gurriel Jr. on 3rd. And he went from there back to the dugout after a 1-3 groundout wrapped up the 7th.
The Phillies, holding their hard-won tie, came out for the 8th to face Kevin Ginkel, who sent the Phillies down in order. Alvarado returned for the bottom of the 8th and navigated the first two batters, but Gabriel Moreno hit a towering fly ball to center, where Rojas misplayed it and allowed a double. Walker received an intentional walk, giving Thomas a chance to be the hero and take the lead. But a groundout send the game to the 9th, still tied.
Paul Sewald, the best of the D-back’s bullpen, was tasked with stymying the top of the Phillies lineup. He did just that to Schwarber and Turner, but Harper drew a two-out walk, then stole second. Sewald, however, got Bohm looking for the 3rd out.
The Phillies tasked Craig Kimbrel with sending the game to extras. Gurriel Jr. fought his way to a leadoff walk; he then stole second. Smith hit a grounder that stayed in the infield, but did just enough to become a single. Runners on the corners, and a defensive indifference to advance Smith to 2nd. Rivera grounded to Turner, who threw home to get the first out and keep the Phillies alive. Geraldo Perdomo was the next man up, and drew a walk to load the bases for Marte, who hit a bloop single to win the game.
A game with more tension than a horror film is seasonally appropriate. The Phillies hope their offense is like a good slasher movie villain: something that cannot be killed, only delayed until the inevitable sequel. The Phillies still lead the NLCS, 2-1. Game 4 is tomorrow night at 8:07.