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Phillies D-Backs NLCS Game 3 Recap

Phillies let Game 3 slip away in Arizona, lose in walk off fashion to the D-Backs 2-1

The Arizona Diamondbacks managed to temporarily extend the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies, winning Game 3 in walk-off fashion, 2-1

Obviously, it’s easy to write this now after the fact, but I really didn’t like the whole vibe of last night’s game from the very start. The Phillies’ approach (or lack thereof) to Brandon Pfaadt was honestly pathetic. They were swinging at literally everything, while home plate umpire Dan Iassogna was everything but consistent with his strike zone for both teams throughout the game.

Here’s how bad Dan Iassogna was behind the plate last night in Game 3 >>

Jayson Stark reported before the game that the Phillies didn’t even take batting practice ahead of Game 3 in Arizona. I’m not really sure how common that is and maybe it was just for the simple fact that they entered last night averaging 5.8 runs per game while slugging an MLB best 19 home runs through their first eight playoff games so they didn’t want to “switch things up”?

Regardless, Major League Baseball’s hottest offensive team looked completely lost last night at the plate, and the result was allowing the D-Backs squeeze out a slopping Game 3 win that they really had no business winning.

On the mound, Ranger Suarez continued his postseason dominance, tossing 5.1 innings while allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out seven.

After last night’s performance, Suarez now has the best ERA in postseason history since earn runs became an official stat way back in the year 1913 (min. 5 starts), posting an impressive 0.94 ERA.

Best Postseason ERA’s in MLB History (Min. 5 Starts)

  1. Ranger Suarez (0.94 ERA)
  2. Sandy Koufax (0.95 ERA) 
  3. Christy Mathewson: (1.06 ERA) 

The D-Backs countered with rookie Brandon Pfaadt and it worked to perfection. He managed to match Suarez on the mound, tossing 5.2 innings while allowing just two hits and zero walks while striking out nine Phillies at the plate.

The result was the Phillies only mustering three hits and scoring a single run that came on a wild pitch from Andrew Saalfrank that allowed Bryce Harper to score in the top of the seventh inning that at the time, broke a 0-0 tie. 

The Orion Kerkering Decision

Jeff Hoffman relieved Suarez for just 0.2 innings, striking out one and stranding runners on base and ultimately handing the baseball over to rookie Orion Kerkering to pitch the seventh inning.

Entering last night’s game, Kerkering had not allowed an earned run in seven MLB appearances extending over the regular season and playoffs. 

Unfortunately for the 22-year old rookie last night, he simply did not have the goods. His pitches were flat and really, right over the plate, as the D-Backs tagged him for three hits. Kerkering allowed a single, RBI double and single to the only three hitters he faced.

Orion Kerkering’s “Welcome to the MLB” Outing in Game 3

I completely understand people weren’t happy with Rob Thomson’s decision to go with Kerkering when the Phillies were up 1-0 on the road looking to step on the throats of the Diamondbacks by securing a 3-0 lead in the NLCS, and I would have to agree.

I would have much rather had Seranthony Dominguez or Gregory Soto pitch in that situation, before handing the ball over to Alvarado and Kimbrel to close out the final two innings.

I will say however…if you’re on the NLCS roster as a member of the Phillies’ bullpen and your number gets called, then you are expected to take the mound in any and all types of situations and deliver for this baseball team. That’s just the way postseason baseball rosters are constructed and Kerkering made that agreement last Monday when he was put on the NLCS roster.

Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for the rookie last night.

Jose Alvarado. For All Things Holy.

At the time, the Phillies were lucky that Jose Alvarado entered the game when he did.

Alvarado relieved Kerkering with runners on the corners are nobody out but managed to escape the seventh in just three pitches, keeping the game tied 1-1 heading into the eighth inning.

Alvarado returned to the mound in the eighth, tossing a scoreless inning before Craig Kimbrel took over the bottom of the ninth, looking to send the game into extra innings.

The Phillies wouldn’t get there.

Kimbrel loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth and Ketel Marte hit a walk-off, RBI single to right-center field, giving the D-Backs a much needed 2-1 win to bring them “back into the series” at 2-1 heading into Game 4 tomorrow night.

Let’s talk about Craig Kimbrel and how unacceptable his performance was last night

The future Hall of Famer walked two batters to load the bases and then allowed the walk-off hit to Marte. That simply cannot happen and it’s fair to question Thomson’s decision to put him on the mound in such a tight game situation to an extent, but overall, Kimbrel needs to be THAT guy in the ninth and the majority of time, he answers the call.

Kimbrel hasn’t really been as bad as people think.

He appeared in 76 games this season for the Phillies. He allowed a run in 18 of those appearances. In 13 of those 18 appearances, Kimbrel walked multiple batters or gave up a home run. Pretty solid year for the veteran closer but god damn, when things go haywire, it’s really painful to watch.

Fact: You can’t win baseball games with 3 hits and 1 run scored

Of course, it would help if the hottest lineup in baseball mustered up more than 3 hits and one earned run on the night. Kimbrel can shoulder the blame but overall this last night’s performance from the Phillies was a total mess from the start.

Trust me, I absolutely hate losing winnable baseball games.

Last night was the perfect opportunity for the Phillies to step on the throats of the Diamondbacks and leave Arizona with a clean 4-0 sweep in the NLCS. That didn’t happen and the result is still a 2-1 series lead for the Phillies.

I heard multiple people state and also write all over social media about how the Phillies “now have a series” to play against the D-Backs. While I understand the statement. Absolutely not. 

The Diamondbacks are not a good baseball team. I’m sorry but they just aren’t there yet. Last night, they won Game 3 because the Philadelphia Phillies were absolutely terrible honestly, played one of the worst baseball games of the 2023 MLB season. 

That being said, the Diamondbacks won the game in the bottom of the ninth while scoring a total of two runs. Do we have a series? Not yet. There’s literally no series before a team wins a baseball game on the road. Zero series being played right now. D-Backs winning a single game at home doesn’t mean shit.

I will say the Phillies need to take the field tonight and kill any hope or momentum that Arizona thinks they have going into Game 4 and I’m fairly confident they will do just that. This team is not going to play like they did last night again tonight in Game 4. They will face a “bullpen game” for the D-Backs and just like last night, tonight will be a very winnable game for the Phillies.

Remember, Nick Castellanos told reporter before heading back to Philly for Game 3 and Game 4 of the NLDS that the Phillies “thrive after they get punched in the face.” I fully expect that to happen tonight against a D-Backs team that again, has no business playing in the NLCS in the first place.

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