D-backs turn to bullpen for Game 4 vs. Phillies

League: MLB

Posted on: 20 Oct, 2023 at 02:47 AM

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks got their must-win victory in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday in part because of a stellar bullpen performance.

Now they will aim to even the best-of-seven series against the Philadelphia Phillies at two games apiece on Friday while leaning on their relief corps from the start.

Arizona will use 2022 All-Star Joe Mantiply as the opener in a bullpen game on Friday. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo hopes his 'pen picks up where it left off on Thursday, when four relievers yielded just one hit (an infield single) in 3 1/3 innings.

As announced about an hour after Arizona walked off with a 2-1 win on Thursday, the Phillies will send 26-year-old left-hander Cristopher Sanchez to the mound in Game 4, his postseason debut.

It's not exactly a matchup of big-name pitchers, but the stakes are high nonetheless.

Mantiply allowed four runs in three innings during his lone appearance against the Phillies this season. He has a career 7.36 regular-season ERA in five relief outings against Philadelphia, and he gave up three runs while getting just one out in Game 2 of the NLCS on Tuesday.

"It's not a perfect science what we do here," Lovullo said of his pitching options for Game 4. "We feel like we're very thorough when we discuss it. It's batters one, two, and three, who's got it? Batters two, three, and four, who's got it? Batters three, four, and five, who's got it? And when you just keep chunking it down, you want to maximize the potential to keep a very potent offense in check."

Sanchez made 18 starts in his 19 regular-season appearances for Philadelphia this season, going 3-5 with a 3.44 ERA.

Sanchez did not fare well in his only career appearance at Chase Field. He allowed five runs and got only two outs in a relief outing on Aug. 29, 2022. Adding in a scoreless inning he threw against the Diamondbacks on June 11, 2022, he has a career 27.00 ERA vs. Arizona.

The last time Sanchez pitched was Sept. 30, when he threw a scoreless relief inning against the New York Mets. His most recent start came on Sept. 24, when he struck out 10 while tossing seven innings of two-run ball in a win over the Mets.

"He has been throwing the ball very well, and I know there's a lot of right hands in that lineup, but I have a lot of confidence in him," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said of Sanchez. "I don't know how far we're going to be able to go with him, but he's been pitching very well and throwing strikes."

The Phillies are seeking the ninth pennant in franchise history after winning the National League title last season with a 4-1 series win over the San Diego Padres. Philadelphia is 18-8 in the postseason under Thomson.

The Diamondbacks' six-game losing streak in NLCS play ended Thursday with Ketel Marte's game-ending single in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was Arizona's first NLCS win since Game 5 in 2001. In 2007, Arizona was swept in four games by the Colorado Rockies.

Teams that have won Game 3 after falling behind 2-0 in a seven-game postseason series have gone on to win the series 13 of 50 times, giving the Diamondbacks some hope. It hasn't been done since 2020 when the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied to defeat the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.

"Our team's awesome. We don't stop fighting," said Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Pfaadt, who struck out nine in 5 2/3 shutout innings on Thursday .

The Phillies, who mustered only three hits in Game 3, will try to regroup. They have 19 home runs in this postseason but didn't hit one Thursday.

"It was a great ballgame," Thomson said. "It could have gone either way, you know. What are you going to do? I'm not going to think about it that way. I'm going to think about coming in here (Friday) and getting ready to compete."

--Jose M. Romero, Field Level Media