The Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off a stunning upset over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday night, winning 4-2 at Citizens Bank Park. The Diamondbacks, who were the sixth seed in the NL playoffs and had the third-lowest regular season win total among the postseason teams, are going to the World Series for the first time since 2001. They will face the Texas Rangers, who won the American League pennant on Sunday.
The Game: A Pitchers’ Duel and a Late Rally
Game 7 was a pitchers’ duel for most of the night, as both starters delivered strong performances. The Phillies’ Aaron Nola pitched six innings, allowing only one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out seven. The Diamondbacks’ Zac Gallen matched him with six innings of one-run ball, giving up five hits and three walks, while fanning six.
The only run for either team in the first six innings came in the top of the fourth, when Arizona’s Corbin Carroll hit a solo home run off Nola to give his team a 1-0 lead. Carroll, a rookie outfielder, had three hits and two RBI in the game, and was named the NLCS MVP for his clutch performance throughout the series.
The Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, when Bryce Harper drove in Trea Turner with a single off Gallen. Harper, who had a monster season with 49 home runs and 137 RBI, was held in check by the Diamondbacks’ pitching staff, going 4-for-28 with no homers and two RBI in the series.
The game remained tied until the top of the eighth, when the Diamondbacks broke through against the Phillies’ bullpen. Ketel Marte led off with a double off Hector Neris, and scored on a single by Tommy Pham. After Neris struck out Christian Walker, he was replaced by Jose Alvarado, who walked Eduardo Escobar and gave up a two-run double to Carroll, making it 4-1 Arizona.
The Phillies tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth against Arizona’s closer Paul Sewald, who had been perfect in his previous six postseason appearances. Nick Castellanos led off with a single, and scored on a double by Brandon Marsh. However, Sewald recovered to strike out Cristian Pache and Kyle Schwarber, before getting Turner to ground out to end the game and seal the Diamondbacks’ victory.
The Series: A Comeback from Behind
The Diamondbacks’ triumph in Game 7 capped off an improbable comeback from behind in the series. The Phillies, who had the best record in the NL with 102 wins and were favored to win their second consecutive pennant, took a 2-0 lead in the series after winning Games 1 and 2 at home. However, the Diamondbacks bounced back with two wins at Chase Field in Games 3 and 4, tying the series at 2-2.
The Phillies regained the upper hand with a 6-3 win in Game 5 at Arizona, putting them one win away from advancing to the World Series. However, the Diamondbacks refused to give up, and forced a Game 7 with a convincing 5-1 win in Game 6 at Philadelphia. In Game 7, they completed their stunning upset with another win on the road, becoming only the fifth team in MLB history to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 2-0 and 3-21.
The Diamondbacks’ success in the series was largely due to their pitching staff, which held the Phillies’ potent offense to only 18 runs and four homers in seven games. The Phillies had led the NL in runs (892) and homers (249) during the regular season2. The Diamondbacks’ starters posted a 3.38 ERA in the series, while their relievers had a 1.80 ERA3. The Diamondbacks also got timely hitting from their lineup, especially from Carroll, Marte, Pham, and Walker.
The World Series: A Matchup of Underdogs
The Diamondbacks will now face the Rangers in the World Series, which will begin on Friday at Globe Life Field in Arlington. The Rangers are also making their first World Series appearance since 2011, when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. The Rangers were the fifth seed in the AL playoffs and had an identical regular season record as the Diamondbacks (84-78). They beat the Tampa Bay Rays in four games in the AL Division Series, and then swept the Boston Red Sox in four games in the AL Championship Series.
Both teams are considered underdogs compared to their opponents in their respective leagues. Both teams have never won a World Series title in their franchise history. Both teams have overcome injuries and adversity throughout the season. Both teams have relied on their pitching, defense, and clutch hitting to win games. Both teams have defied the odds and expectations to reach the Fall Classic.
The World Series will be a best-of-seven series, with the first two games in Arlington, the next three games in Phoenix, and the last two games (if necessary) in Arlington. The Diamondbacks will have home-field advantage, as the NL won the All-Star Game in July. The World Series will also feature the designated hitter rule in all games, as MLB adopted a universal DH rule for the 2023 season.
The World Series will be a thrilling and historic matchup between two teams that have surprised and impressed everyone with their resilience and determination. Who will emerge as the champion of baseball? Find out on Friday, when Game 1 of the World Series begins at 8:09 p.m. ET on FOX.