MLB Playoffs 2023: How this October delivered two Game 7s

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PHILADELPHIA – Every year, October baseball is a treat, a mish-mash of drama, intrigue, strategy, excitement and nerves fried and fried. Game 7s takes each of these elements and supercharges them. The sport exists for series over distance. And this October they gave a pair of gifts.

Two days. Two game 7s.

Early Monday evening, the Arizona Diamondbacks handed the Philadelphia Phillies their first home loss this postseason, booking a Game 7 in the National League Championship Series on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. As the Diamondbacks looked to extend their season with a 5-1 victory, the Texas Rangers were in the process of shutting out the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS, an 11-4 margin that kept alive the franchise’s hopes of its first championship in ’63. years of existence

While the Wild Card and Division Series rounds offered less theater this year, the LCS made up for it. And Tuesday’s event, in which the star-studded Phillies aim to make up for their World Series loss last season with the “unhinged,” “crooked” — their words — Diamondbacks trying to turn an 84-win season into a championship, presents an exciting story, regardless of the outcome. Play in real time.

This is baseball at its best. Of course, games are always binary — win or lose — but Game 7s offer a twist: win or go home. They’re not uncommon, exactly, but they’re rare enough that the Phillies, who played their first game in 1883 and have played more than 20,000 games in their history, have never participated in a Game 7 until now.

The last time both championship series games went to 7s in a full season was 2004, and both series were all-time. (It also happened during the Covid-shortened 2020 season.) That speaks to how special this postseason has become, a consideration not lost on the Diamondbacks, who already have a pair of division champions (Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers) and as the undisputed favorite in the NLCS. The incoming Phillies are aiming to topple the team.

“It could go well, and we’ll celebrate, and it could go badly, and it could be my fault,” the Diamondbacks closer said. Paul Sewald Said “But this is what you play for. To play this month. To play Game 7.”

It’s the biggest stage, and a set for an indefinite moment, as the Rangers and Astros depicted Monday night.

It’s where the Texas outfielder is Adolis Garcia He finished the streak of his life with a game that etched him into the history books. Three days ago, a 99-mph fastball from an Astros reliever Brian Abreu Garcia tagged on his shoulder two innings after he punctuated a three-run home run with a sloth-caliber trot around the bases. The Rangers slugger’s Game 7 coda included four hits in five at-bats, a pair of home runs and five runs batted in.

This is where Bruce Bochy cemented his case for the Hall of Fame. The Rangers manager, who came out of retirement to take over a team that lost 94 games last season and 102 the year before, is now 6-0 in all games, including three Game 7s. He is the first manager to win the LCS with three different organizations. He was the perfect shepherd for a team that spent $500 million on a mediocre field in free agency before the 2022 season and another $250 million on pitching this winter, and then received Max Scherzer And Jordan MontgomeryThose combined covered the first five innings of Game 7 at the trade deadline.

Each team’s path in Game 7 is different. Rangers depended on their bats; The Astros seem to survive on pure will. Philadelphia rode its stars, Arizona its moxie, and, perhaps unexpectedly compared to the other side of the bracket, their NLCS clash also produced impressive baseball.

Game 6 featured the Diamondbacks at their best: hitting home runs and stealing bases and getting five great innings from the starters. Meryl Kelly And four more from a once-malicious bullpen that found itself at the most opportune moment. Tonight, the calculator for the Diamondbacks is simple: score early and neutralize the bank’s raw rush In this series, when the Phillies get on the board in the first inning, they are 3-0; When they are scoreless, they are 0-3.

“We have to do it all the time,” the Arizona shortstop said Geraldo Perdomo said “The first two games were very loud and I think (Monday) we answered early. … In any stadium, when the opposing team scores the first goal, the crowd — it’s not as loud as it used to be at the beginning. (Game 7) of That’s what we need to do.”

Philadelphia won’t make it easy. The same mashers who hit 10 home runs run the series — Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Tree Turner, JT Realmuto And Nick Castellanos — will look to add the total. Phillies starter Ranger Suarez The D-back went toe-to-toe with the rookie Brandon Paffatt In a brilliantly pitched Game 3, Pfaadt tossed 5.1 scoreless innings to Pfaadt’s 5.2. Regardless of the gap on paper, the NLCS participants are the same on the field.

And now, it comes down to Game 7. When Perdomo thinks about Game 7, he thinks of the Winter League showdown between the Aguilas and the Lees in his native Dominican Republic, the country’s equivalent of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Pfaadt remembers just a year ago, when he started and won Game 7 of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League title.

This, though? This is the big league. It’s for a shot at the World Series. If they are made in October, legends are made in Game 7.

No, the seventh game won’t prove anything the first six haven’t already. Although it will send one team to Arlington, Texas, for Game 1 of the World Series on Friday, and the other home for the winter. The stakes are almost too high for one game, and yet those stakes are what make Game 7 so exceptional.

This is why we are watching. One Game 7 is in the books and the other comes at 8 pm ET Nothing gets the stomach churning and nauseating and sets the dopamine on fire like fire.

Isn’t that great?

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