Arizona Diamondbacks: L. A. sweeps, but building blocks are set

While Archie Bradley may be established as Diamondbacks set-up reliever, the closer is uncertain. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
While Archie Bradley may be established as Diamondbacks set-up reliever, the closer is uncertain. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Despite elimination from post-season, manager Torey Lovullo of the Arizona Diamondbacks said the foundation is in place for future success.

For a team which was praised its starting pitching, that vital dimension of the Arizona Diamondbacks failed in the post-season. In the opening three post-season games, starters collapsed, and nearly collectively, put the Diamondbacks on the brink.

When titular head Zack Greinke took the mound in hopes of extending this National League Division Series Monday night in game three against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was out to right a ship which was rudderless and headed to rocky shores.

From the start, the Dodgers made no secret that to effectively to defeat Greinke was to get the Arizona right-hander to work deep into counts and raise his pitch count. That patient approach was executed, and Greinke labored from the start Monday night.

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Though Greinke pitched better Monday night than in his previous 2017 post-season appearance in the Wild Card victory over the Colorado Rockies, L. A. right-hander Yu Darvish, his mound opponent, was better. In the end, the Dodgers squeezed out a 3-1 victory over Arizona in game three before a sell-out crowd of 48,641 in Chase Field, swept the Diamondbacks in three and now move to the National League Championship Series.

Despite swept in his series, the Diamondbacks turned a dreadful past regime of manager Chip Hale and GM Dave Stewart into a complete reversal of fortune. In addition to a 24-game turnaround, there was qualification for post-season play, and a set of impressive building blocks set in cement.

Though losing in the post-season is difficult and emotional, outfielder David Peralta told Call to the Pen that the journey to success has just began.

"“It’s a tough feeling right now,” he said in a quiet Arizona clubhose. “I know we’ll get better, and we’ll be fine. We knew from day one in spring training that this was a special team. I know for me, I can’t wait to get started. I’ll take a few weeks off to be with my family and new baby girl, and then get right into it. I can’t say enough about (Manager Torey) Lovullo. He made us so proud, and we’re all better for keeping the moment with him.”"

In the end, the Dodgers managed to grind out at-bats and tax Greinke’s durability in this deciding game. After allowing a first inning run, the veteran right-hander settled in, but walked a tight rope. Lasting five innings plus one batter, Greinke did not have a one, shut-down, 1-2-3 inning.

The key hit was delivered by Cody Bellinger, a Phoenix native, who told Call to the Pen that the environs of Chase Field is quite familiar. Playing in the venue as a high school player, he managed to set a rookie record this year for most home runs (39) in a season by a National League rookie.

Leading1-0 and two outs in the fifth, Bellinger took Greinke deep into the left field bleachers and help produce a critical two-run margin. Afterward, Bellinger told Call to the Pen, that while the home run in his home town was rewarding in itself, it was the approach which made this lasting.

"“(Manager Dave Roberts) told me to settle down because I was trying to do too much,” he said. “He told me to stay within myself and good things will happen. Sure, I’m happy to hit it out in front of family and friends, but this was good for the team. This gave us a cushion, and (Darvish) took it from there.”"

For a team which banged and clawed its way to 93 wins, the Diamondbacks went quietly in what was their most important game of the season. After Ketel Marte bunted for a single with one out in the first, Darvish took control with a cutting-edge fast ball and sharp location. He proceeded to retire the next 13 straight hitters before Daniel Descalso hit a two-out homer in the fifth.

From that point, the Diamondbacks managed only two base runners the rest of the way. Pinch hitter Christian Walker was hit by a pitch to lead-off the sixth, and Peralta delivered with a one-out single in the ninth.

The series defeat left a bitter feeling in the clubhouse, but Lovullo seemed particularly hard-hit. He told Call to the Pen that while failure in this postseason stings, strong building blocks for future success are clearly in place.

"“We look for the positives and the silver linings in everything during moments like these,” he said. “But, I’m hurting right now, as are the guys, and I’m sure I’ll reflect on that at some point over the next several days. I want to remember how I feel, because I think it will motivate me, and the pain, and the frustration that we’re all experiencing right now.”"


If there was a fourth game in this series, a pair of lefties were set. Patrick Corbin was to go for Arizona and Alex Wood for the Dodgers.

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Now, the Dodgers await the winner of the Cubs-Nationals series for the right to advance to the World Series. The National League Championship Series is scheduled to commence this Saturday in Dodger Stadium. Lefty Clayton Kershaw will open the series for L. A.

For the Diamondbacks, it’s house-cleaning time. The Arizona clubhouse will open at 12 noon Tuesday for packing glove and bats as well as memories from a triumphant 2017 season.