Winner Take All
Well, OK! I wouldn’t call either of Monday’s LCS games classics … but there’s still plenty to talk about, including a thought about small sample sizes and (is this right?) the first Game 7 in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies?
Quick note: Yep, I’m still in Dallas on Thursday, tickets are $10, and I have a pretty good feeling that I know what we might be talking about.
And I’m in Nashville on Nov. 1, doing a show with Country Music Hall of Famer Marty Stuart (!), and special guest star Bob Kendrick will be there (!) and we’ll spend some time, certainly, talking about the World Series and some time, certainly, talking about Nashville’s efforts to get an MLB team. And the music will be amazing. Tickets here.
Arizona 5, Philadelphia 1 (NLCS tied 3-3)
We all know that Game 7s are pretty rare and precious things. Still, it’s quite remarkable that the Philadelphia Phillies, who have been around since 1883, have NEVER played in one, not ever, not in 1915, when Pete Alexander led them to their first World Series, not in 1950, with Richie Ashburn and Del Ennis, not the Mike Schmidt teams of 1980 or ’83, not in 1993, when Joe Carter nixed Game 7 with the touch-’em-all homer, not in 2008 or 2009, when both the World Series and NLCS were best-of-seven series, not last year, not ever.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, meanwhile, who have basically been around since last Tuesday, not only have played in a Game 7, but it is one of the most famous of all Game 7s, the broken-bat-hit-off-Mariano game.
It doesn’t necessarily mean anything. It’s just interesting to me. That will probably be a theme of today’s newsletter.
The Phillies certainly did not expect this thing to go to a Game 7 when they roared to a 2-0 series lead, the second of those wins a 10-0 destruction. But these Diamondbacks, wow, I don’t know where they keep finding runs — especially with Corbin Carroll hitting .130 without an extra-base hit or stolen base in the series — but somehow they do. Monday’s magic involved back-to-back home runs from Tommy Pham and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the second inning and then, even more improbably, a run-scoring double from Evan Longoria, his second extra-base hit since the end of July.
Yeah, that’s right — his SECOND EXTRA-BASE HIT SINCE THE LAST WEEK IN JULY.
I don’t care how many times I see it, I’m still baffled by the idea that Evan Longoria plays for the Diamondbacks.
While Carroll has looked a bit star-struck by it all, Ketel Marte seems to enjoy the bright lights. This guy finished fourth in the MVP balloting in 2019, when he hit .329 with 36 doubles, 9 triples and 32 home runs. He was only 25 and was looking like one of the bright stars of the game. Then came COVID and some injuries, but he had a superb 5-bWAR season in 2023 and has often looked like the best hitter on the field during this series. He drove in the final two runs with a triple and single, and the Phillies never really threatened after the second inning and that was that.
I know we talk a lot about how much the game has changed and all that, but I’m not sure any longtime Philadelphia baseball fan could have predicted that the first Game 7 in Phillies history would feature a starting pitching matchup between rookie Brandon Pfaadt and the Yogi-Bear character Ranger Suárez. I suppose you would have to give the edge to Suárez, who has been pretty effective over his career and has been lights-out in this postseason so far. But “lights-out” in today’s world means that in three starts, he’s pitched 14 total innings and allowed just one run.
So when I say, “You probably have to give the edge to Suárez,” here’s what I mean:
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