In the first game back in their stomping grounds since the 10-0 butchering of the Arizona Diamondbacks six nights ago in Game 2, and with both starting pitchers reprising their roles in the sequel, the script went back assward.
A shaky inning by Aaron Nola combined with a shrewd game plan by Arizona and a guarded approach to the bullpen by Rob Thomson resulted in a 5-1 loss for the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 of the NLCS on Monday night.
Nola started strong, recording all three of his outs in the opening frame via the punch out while allowing a two-out single to Diamondbacks’ catcher, Gabriel Moreno.
But the D’backs drew first blood in the top of the second as Nola allowed his first and second home runs of the postseason to D’backs’ DH, Tommy Pham, and left fielder, Lourdes Gurriel, Jr.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. makes it back-to-back home runs for the Dbacks!!! pic.twitter.com/1WOp7fAqhV— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 23, 2023
After a four pitch walk to D’backs’ center fielder, Alek Thomas, and a mound visit by pitching coach, Caleb Cotham, third baseman, Evan Longoria, laced an RBI double to left center to stake the visitors to a 3-0 lead.
The Phillies began an attempted climb out of the hole in the bottom of the inning, as a JT Realmuto double was followed by a first-pitch RBI single by Brandon Marsh, who advanced to second on the throw in. After a two-out walk to Schwarber, Trea Turner struck out to end the threat.
Brandon Marsh drives JT Realmuto home and the Phillies are on the board! pic.twitter.com/cQ76jZbVUh— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) October 23, 2023
A lone single by Alec Bohm was all the offense could muster off Kelly in the third and fourth innings. Nola likewise settled down, facing the minimum thanks to an inning-ending double play in the top of the third inning.
With one out in the top of the fifth inning, D’backs’ right fielder, Corbin Carroll, worked an eight-pitch, 2-2 single with one out. Two pitches later, Ketel Marte slapped a 1-0 fastball down the right field line for an RBI triple, ending Nola’s night.
Michael Lorenzen entered in relief and induced a ground out to short from Moreno that kept Marte at third. After walking D’backs’ first baseman, Christian Walker, Lorenzen got Pham swinging to end the inning and close out Nola’s pitching line at 4 ER over 4.1 IP on 82 PC with 6 H, 2 BB and 4 Ks.
Kelly sat the offense down in order in both the fourth and fifth innings with three strikeouts. He looked especially dominant in the bottom of the fifth, bookending the frame with swinging strikeouts of Schwarber and Harper. Kelly looked visibly displeased as D’backs’ manager, Torey Lovullo, seemed to indicate to Kelly that his night was over after retiring eight straight batters.
Lorenzen continued on in the top of the sixth inning with a 1-2-3 frame. Bryson Stott snapped the baserunning drought in the bottom half with a one-out single off of D’backs’ reliever, Ryne Thompson, but was left stranded after a pair of weak fly outs by Realmuto and Nick Castellanos ended the inning.
Thomson went to Orion Kerkering to begin the seventh inning. D’backs’ shortstop, Geraldo Perdomo, led off with a single and stole second on a strike out of right fielder, Corbin Carroll. Marte sent a 2-2 breaking ball to right center for an RBI single and a four run lead.
The D’backs’ relief corps of Thompson, Andrew Saalfrank, Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald shut down the 7-8-9th innings by scattering just two singles by Marsh and Bohm, who combined accounted for four of the Phillies’ six hits on the evening, only one of which went for extra bases.
It seemed that Arizona came out with a game plan to pitch around the Phillies’ top hitting threats and be aggressive themselves in the batter’s box and on the basepaths. After the early deficit, Thomson appeared content to rely on his team’s one game lead to allow for a timid deployment of his bullpen weapons, reserving his best arms for service tomorrow.
The Phillies will ask Ranger Suarez to protect against the collapse of a series they twice led in the first Game 7 in franchise history tomorrow night. For the D’backs, it is their second ever Game 7 and first since they beat the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series. Arizona will go to rookie, Brandon Pfaadt, who held the Phillies scoreless in 5.2 IP in Arizona’s Game 3 win.