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5 most pivotal plays during Diamondbacks' Game 1 win over Brewers

Patrick Lyons Avatar
October 3, 2023

DNVR Rockies beat writer Patrick Lyons is contributing to PHNX Sports’ coverage of the Diamondbacks’ postseason run. You can follow him on X, formerly Twitter, here.

After watching countless fan bases celebrate their teams over the last six years, Tuesday marked a return for fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks to get back in on the action.

That wait was well worth it following a 6-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in Game One of the National League Wild Card Series.

In a game that hung in the balance of every pitch, the glut of positive outcomes went the Diamondbacks way, especially after erasing an early deficit.

Using win probability added (WPA), a statistic that measures the value of an individual play on their team’s odds to win, these are five of the most pivotal plays that lifted Arizona to the club’s first postseason victory since the 2017 NL Wild Card Game and first road win since Game Three of the 2007 NLDS at Wrigley Field.

Corbin Carroll’s 2-run home run resuscitates D-backs (WPA: .152)

Brandon Pfaadt, 24, became the second-youngest postseason starter for Arizona. That inexperience showed during the club’s second-shortest October in franchise history. Down 3-0 in the top of the third, Arizona built momentum with a single from Gerardo Perdomo. Corbin Carroll put an exclamation point on his NL Rookie of the Year Award-worthy with a two-run home run that gave his club new life.

“I think at that point we all exhaled and I think we collectively got our feet underneath us and felt very good about the direction in which we were going,” manager Torey Luvollo said of the homer.

Carroll had only one home run longer than his 444 ft blast against Brewers’ starter Corbin Burnes. In a similar situation with his club trailing 3-0 at Great American Ballpark, Carrol hammered a 446 ft dinger against former teammate Luke Weaver of the Cincinnati Reds on July 23.

At 23 years and 43 days, Carroll became the youngest player to hit a postseason home run for the Diamondbacks, breaking Ketel Marte’s previous mark of 23 years and 359 days.

Ketel Marte’s homers gives Arizona back-to-back jacks (.111 WPA)

Burnes had given up back-to-back home runs only twice during his six big league seasons. Austin Riley and Marcell Ozuna did it with Atlanta last season while Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt did it in 2019. Both times it was at American Family Field. Neither time was it on consecutive pitches.

On a first pitch cutter by Burnes, Marte drilled a home run into the first row in right field. In two pitches, the score went from 2-0 Brewers to 3-2 D-backs. The middle-in pitch would have been well executed to anyone other than Marte who has a .552 wOBA in Zone 6 (aka his wheelhouse).

Gabriel Moreno’s go-ahead home run delivers dagger (WPA .121)

Moreno missed a 92.8 mph cutter middle-up in the strike zone to bring the count to 2-2 to open the top of the fourth. Burnes went back to the same spot, taking something off the next pitch with a 83.7 mph slider that Moreno knocked over the Brewers bullpen in left-center.

The 23-year-old has made a habit of hitting his home runs on the road, recording six on the road with just one at Chase Field. Moreno has produced seven long balls of 400 ft or more during the regular season with two landing on the other side of the fence. His longest came against left-hander Matt Strahm in Philadelphia, measured at an estimated 417 ft. His 425 ft go-ahead home run against Milwaukee is now his furthest in the big leagues.

Fifth-inning shenanigans pull multiple runs off the board (WPA .219)

The fifth inning was nearly as pivotal as the big three-run third that tied the game. Ryne Nelson started the frame with three consecutive singles to Sal Frelick, Willy Adames and Josh Donaldson, each one harder than the next.

On a first pitch slider in the dirt with the bases loaded, Brice Turang was awarded first base on a hit-by-pitch to tie the game 4-4. Then the umpires came together and, led by crew chief Alan Porter, opted to review the call by home plate umpire Mark Ripperger. After the delay, the call was overturned, Turang was brought back to the plate with a 1-0 count and a run was taken off the board. Nelson managed to get a strikeout before giving way to Ryan Thompson who induced an inning-ending line drive double play. 

And what an inning-ending double play sparked by Evan Longorio to close out the fifth. Longoria, who started at third base only twice during the final 12 games of the regular season, prevented a potential extra-base situation on a Tyrone Taylor line drive. According to WPA, that was the most pivotal play of the game.

“He was ready, and it’s just a very calm, veteran presence that we all needed,” Luvollo said of Longoria. “I think we built off him.”

Christian Walker’s 2 RBI-double closes door on a Brewers rebound (.126 WPA)

Craig Counsell called on his closer, Devin Williams, for the final three outs in hopes of building momentum for the bottom of the ninth and the 40,892 Brewers’ fans at American Family Field providing the home field advantage.

Arizona, conversely, got 6.1 scoreless innings out of their bullpen, including five outs from Thompson and six outs from Kevin Ginkel. Counsell was not as lucky in the ninth.

Williams walked Perdomo and Carroll before getting the second caught stealing of the night at third base on a double steal. Carroll moved up to third base on a wild pitch, Tommy Pham walked and stole second base. Christian Walker, who successfully stole a base earlier in the game, hit a two-run double to center to give the Diamondbacks some insurance.  

Considering that Mark Canha reached base on a two-out hit-by-pitch when closer Paul Sewald came too far inside with two outs, the closest the tying run got was the on-deck circle. Without the Walker double, the winning run would have been at the plate.

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