PHILADELPHIA – You can think you know all the answers on paper, but sometimes, baseball has other plans. Take one of the game’s juggernauts, featuring multiple superstars and give them a 2-0 lead in the series. Put them up against a young, inexperienced team that limped into the postseason with 84 wins, and one would probably guess the result.
No, the Phillies didn’t go on to sweep or make Arizona look like they were in a different league. The D-backs did what many said they couldn’t do. Not only were they able to defeat the Phillies; they won Games 6 and 7 on the road and they’re headed to the World Series for the first time since 2001.
“For the entire state of Arizona, for this organization that’s had a lot of hardships over the past 36, 48 months for us to be where we are right now, it was a good moment,” manager Torey Lovullo said.
“We’re adrenaline junkies. It’s in and out of that moment. And when it hits a high and you feel it, it’s a flush through your body, and it gets no better.”
We won’t even pretend that anybody saw this coming. Because unless you’re one of the 26 players in the D-backs’ clubhouse, it would have been hard to predict not only Arizona defeating the Phillies in a winner-take-all Game 7, but even being in a position to reach the World Series.
If you go back this season, the D-backs have long been a fun, hungry team. Their youth served as the perfect fit for their aggressive style of play, and in a division that includes teams like the Dodgers and the Padres, they had nothing to lose.
Fast forward to Game 6 of the NLCS in which they faced a 3-2 deficit to the Phillies.
It didn’t feel like Arizona had been able to figure out how to play their game. While they were able to win Games 3 and 4 against Craig Kimbrel and Philly’s bullpen, it never appeared Arizona had truly played their game. But something changed in Game 6, and after not pushing the envelope, they challenged the Phillies. They stole four bases in Game 6 and four more in Game 7, getting back to their strength. It was almost no coincidence they’d go on to win the series.
“I think it’s easy to get caught up in the day and get caught up in just the minute,” outfielder Corbin Carroll said. “But just realizing that that’s all it is, right? It’s just a little hitch of things not going your way. That was kind of my mindset. It’s kind of just true in general for me too. In the end, I think everything evens out eventually.”
The baseball gods have smiled on the Arizona Diamondbacks this season as their unlikely trip to the World Series is one that hasn’t been seen in the sport since the 83-win St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. They’ll now attempt to complete their Cinderella season in the World Series against the Rangers, who are looking to win their first World Series ever.
But if there’s anything that the D-backs won’t be, it’s afraid of the moment. They’ve shown the baseball world that they’re ready and accepting all challengers.
“When you stay connected the way we have been, you might need subtle reminders,” Lovullo said. “But there are opportunities to kind of go out and do something and start a new day, and that was my mindset.”