Phillies

MLB Playoffs: Diamondbacks outslug Rockies in NL wild-card game

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MLB Playoffs: Diamondbacks outslug Rockies in NL wild-card game

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX -- Three bags, four times.

And you wouldn't believe who got in on all the fun for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Spirited reliever Archie Bradley hit a stunning triple in the seventh inning, driving in two runs with one of four three-baggers by Arizona that sent the Diamondbacks past the Colorado Rockies 11-8 in the National League wild-card game Wednesday night.

"I think after today, I've pretty much seen everything," first-year Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "This was an incredible game."

As he watched his top reliever rounding second base, Lovullo said he thought, "Please stop. We're fine."

But that's not Bradley.

"That's just kind of who I am," he said. "I don't know any other way to play, so I was going to run as hard as I could until they told me to stop."

Paul Goldschmidt launched an early three-run homer and the Diamondbacks built a 6-0 lead before ace Zack Greinke faltered. Colorado climbed back into it and cut it to 8-7 when Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story hit back-to-back homers in the eighth off Bradley, perhaps exhausted from hustling around the bases and shouting in excitement to giddy teammates.

But then A.J. Pollock knocked in two runs with Arizona's fourth triple, this one off closer Greg Holland, as the Diamondbacks scored three times in their half of the eighth to finally put it away.

"Right away all hell broke loose," Colorado manager Bud Black said, "and from then on it was a heavyweight fight."

Arizona advanced to a best-of-five Division Series against the NL West champion Dodgers, a team the Diamondbacks beat the last six times they played. Game 1 is Friday night in Los Angeles.

The Diamondbacks became the first team with four triples in a postseason game since the Boston Americans (now Red Sox) twice hit five during the first World Series back in 1903 against Pittsburgh.

It was that kind of crazy night in the desert as two NL West foes slugged it out. Daniel Descalso also homered for the Diamondbacks, and Ketel Marte tripled twice.

"That's one of the best games I've ever been a part of, if not the best," Goldschmidt said.

Bradley, a high-energy setup man recruited to play quarterback at Oklahoma, went 1 for 4 at the plate this season to raise his career batting average to .098. With two outs in the seventh, he drove a 3-1 pitch from Pat Neshek to deep left-center to give Arizona an 8-5 cushion. It was his first extra-base hit in the majors and the first triple by a reliever in postseason history.

Already a fan favorite for his bushy beard and late-inning relief work, Bradley regrouped from the two solo homers he gave up to get the final two outs of the eighth with the Diamondbacks clinging to a one-run lead.

Fernando Rodney allowed a run in the ninth before closing out Arizona's first playoff game since 2011.

Jake Lamb tied a Diamondbacks postseason record with four hits, all singles, and scored three times.

Jonathan Lucroy doubled twice, scored two runs and drove in one for the Rockies in their first playoff appearance since 2009.

Marte, who came to Arizona with pitcher Taijuan Walker from Seattle for Jean Segura in an offseason deal, became the first player to triple twice in a postseason game since Mariano Duncan did it for Philadelphia against Atlanta in the 1993 NL Championship Series.

The home team won for just the second time in the six NL wild-card games since the one-game format was adopted in 2012. The hosts hadn't even scored in the last three, but the Diamondbacks ended that before their first out.

Goldschmidt, in an 0-for-17 slump to end the regular season, hit the first pitch he saw from ineffective starter Jon Gray into the left-field seats for a three-run shot.

Greinke blanked the Rockies on one hit through three innings but never made it through the fourth.

Colorado, known for its power at the plate, got back into it with small ball -- five hits, four of them singles. Lucroy's two-out RBI double followed by pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista's run-scoring single made it 6-4, and Greinke was finished. He allowed four runs and six hits in 3 2/3 innings.

"We know how tough these guys are. We play `em all the time," Goldschmidt said. "Every time we scored, we just said, `We've got to get more, we've got to get more.'"

Left-hander Robbie Ray, a 15-game winner during the regular season, came on for his first relief appearance in three years and threw two shutout innings before giving up a leadoff double to Lucroy just below the home run line in straightaway center in the seventh. Lucroy went to third on a wild pitch before Ray fanned Ian Desmond.

Lovullo replaced Ray with another lefty, ex-Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, to face NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon, who put down a bunt that brought Lucroy home and cut the lead 6-5.

The 25-year-old Gray was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in his previous five starts, but the Diamondbacks were up 3-0 on him before a good share of the 48,803 in the stands settled into their seats. He lasted just 1 1/3 innings.

Triple threat
The previous pitcher to hit a postseason triple was Dontrelle Willis for the Marlins in 2003.

Moment of silence
There was a moment of silence for victims of the Las Vegas shooting, and a photo was shown on the big screen of one of them, Christiana Duarte, a University of Arizona graduate and former member of the Diamondbacks front office.

Up next
Rockies: Will be right back in Arizona to open the 2018 season on March 29.

Diamondbacks: The Dodgers had the best record in baseball at 104-58 but went 8-11 against Arizona.

Trades, a pennant race and maybe a big award await Phillies in 2nd half

Trades, a pennant race and maybe a big award await Phillies in 2nd half

Are you ready for a pennant race, Phillies fans?

Of course, you are.

It has been too long.

The Phillies get back to work Friday night and for the first time since 2011 find themselves in legitimate position to make a run at a postseason berth. They lead the National League East by a half-game over the Atlanta Braves and 5½ over the Washington Nationals.

As the players return to town for a weekend series against the San Diego Padres, let’s look ahead at a few of the important storylines that will unfold as the pennant race begins.

The Manny hangover

Fans are disappointed that the team did not land slugging infielder Manny Machado in a trade. The front office has to be disappointed. But the disappointment cannot seep into the clubhouse. This mostly young Phillies team has displayed resilience and toughness all season and that must continue as the intensity of the games increases.

Machado is still a great long-term fit for this team at shortstop for a while, then over to third base and ultimately at first base as he finishes a long contract. The Phillies had two windows to get him. One has closed. But one remains open as Machado will test the free-agent market in the offseason. The Phils were reluctant to empty their prospect vault for him, but you know they will write a big check this winter.

Machado might end up loving Los Angeles and look to stay there. But, for now, he looks like just a short-term fit with the Dodgers, who lost shortstop Corey Seager to injury and are desperate to win a World Series with a ripe core. Machado is from Miami. He has told friends that he wants to play on the East Coast with a team that has spring training in Florida. He has “a thing” for the Yankees so they will be a team to watch. But the Phillies fill a lot of his criteria, too, and winning the division, or at least making the postseason, will help make Philadelphia attractive to Machado. The money will be huge wherever the guy goes. He wants to win and though he’s focused on winning with the Dodgers, he’s watching what happens the rest of season in other potential destinations.

What's plan B?

In pursuing Machado, the Phillies were trying to upgrade their offense. Yes, the team sees pitches, grinds out at-bats and walks, but the overall offense is below average. The team batting average is just .236 and the slugging percentage .390, both in the bottom third in the majors. The lack of offense hurt the Phils on their recent 11-game road trip. They surely could have finished better than 6-5 if they hadn’t averaged under three runs over the final 10 games and been shut out twice.

Improving the offense is a must. Shortstop might be the spot to do it as the pursuit of Machado confirmed. Minnesota’s Eduardo Escobar has been mentioned as a trade target and that would make sense. Landing a shortstop could improve the bench as Scott Kingery could be used in the super-utility role that was envisioned for him at the start of the season.

Message to Maikel

Maikel Franco sat. He was dropped to eighth in the batting order and that can be humiliating for a player no matter how much importance is placed on the spot in a carefully constructed lineup.

Whether the message was intentional or not, Franco seems to have gotten it. He is in the midst of his most productive stretch of the season, hitting .352 with a 1.106 OPS in 22 games since sitting out on June 22 in favor of utility man Jesmuel Valentin. Now, the possibility exists that Franco has, at least for now, played himself out of trade-bait status. If he continues to produce, he could be better than any of the third basemen on the trade market that are viewed as upgrades.

It’s still difficult to see Franco being part of this front office’s long-term plan, but in the short term he might be the best option.

Other ways to improve

Unable to improve the offense with the addition of Machado, the Phils could look for an overall upgrade by improving their run prevention. Bullpen is clearly an area the team would like to address with the addition of a top arm. The team pursued Zach Britton, the Orioles’ lefty closer, in a Machado package and will stay on him. Brad Hand was on the Phils’ radar before he was dealt to Cleveland. Pittsburgh’s Felipe Vazquez, another lefty, and Mets closer Jeurys Familia could also help shorten games.

Yet another way to help the bullpen would be to acquire Toronto’s J.A. Happ in a trade. That could conceivably turn Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta into a power-armed bullpen piece.

The importance of Jake

With an average age of 26 years and 7 months, the Phillies are the youngest team in the majors. They have arrived in a pennant race a year before most expected, but that does not mitigate the need to capitalize on that unexpected position. All of this makes it imperative that Jake Arrieta continue to produce quality starts. He has allowed just four earned runs over 19 innings in his last three starts and the Phils have won all three.

Arrieta is 32. He has pitched in pennant races and won a World Series and a Cy Young Award. Aaron Nola has emerged as the ace of the Phillies’ staff, but Arrieta’s experience and presence will be vital in the second half. Pennant races have a different intensity that much of this team has never felt. Arrieta’s been-there-done-that experience will be valuable. Carlos Santana’s, too.

From the day he arrived, Arrieta has said he wants to lead and is comfortable doing that. Fittingly, he gets the ball Friday night and the game will be a tone-setter.

Awards race

The Phillies will give Nola a few extra days of rest coming out of the All-Star break — he won’t face the Padres this weekend — and that is smart given his importance to the team’s postseason chances. When he was drafted No. 7 overall out of LSU in 2014, Nola was projected to be a quick-riser who could eventually be a quality mid-rotation starter. He has become so much more and has a legitimate chance to become the Phillies’ first Cy Young Award winner since Roy Halladay in 2010. With 2½ months to go, Nola is right there in the conversation with Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, who has won the last two NL Cy Young Awards.

Nola is tied for the NL lead with 12 wins and is second in ERA (2.30), innings (129), quality starts (16) and pitchers WAR (5.9). He has allowed the fewest home runs per nine innings (0.42). He is third in opponent batting average (.199) and WHIP (0.98) and fourth in strikeouts (131).

Seranthony Dominguez, Gabe Kapler’s favorite bullpen kill shot, is on his way to garnering a serious look for NL Rookie of the Year, and Kapler himself is in position to get votes for NL Manager of the Year. The Phils won just 66 games last season. They are on pace for 90 under the first-year manager.

More on the Phillies

The making of 'World Champions: The Story of the '08 Phillies'

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AP Images

The making of 'World Champions: The Story of the '08 Phillies'

On this special edition of At The Yard, Jim Salisbury chats with Sean Kane and Brian Brennan, the makers of "World Champions: The Story of the '08 Phillies." They discuss how the documentary was put together, deciding which parts to keep and take out and their overall memories from that magical season.

1:30 - How did this documentary get started?
4:00 - Difficult decisions made producing the documentary.
7:30 - Favorite interviews conducted.
14:00 - Chase Utley's parade speech.
20:00 - Importance of the 2007 season leading up to 2008.
26:00 - Final out of the World Series.
30:30 - Favorite stories.

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