Forget sweepstakes, these are the sweep snakes.
Teams can get lucky and fluke through a best-of-three Wild Card series. But the Arizona Diamondbacks just proved they are the real deal.
The D-backs haven’t yet lost in the 2023 postseason and are headed toward the National League Championship Series for the first time since 2007.
The past couple of seasons have focused on the rivalry between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. But a new National League West team just proved they belong: the Arizona Diamondbacks.
On Wednesday, the Snakes took out their second division winner in as many series, by sweeping the Dodgers. They now await the winner of the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
Bats and Brooms: How Did the D-backs Make it to the NLCS?
The 2023 regular season was a roller coaster for the Arizona Diamondback, as they spent parts of the season leading their division, and others out of the playoff race entirely. Ultimately they outlasted the competition in the NL Wild Card race and snuck into the playoff on the second-to-last day of the season.
Landing with the sixth-seed, the D-backs had a favorable path to the NLCS than their Wild Card counterparts in the Miami Marlins. Miami had to play the Philadelphia Phillies in round one, and were quickly handled with a sweep. Meanwhile Arizona got to face off against the much-more vulnerable Milwaukee Brewers, where they handled some business of their own.
After starting in a 3-0 hole in Game 1, and facing a former Cy Young in Corbin Burnes, the Diamondbacks offense came to life, tying the game with a three-run inning in the top of the third, before chasing Burnes by scoring another run in the fourth.
Arizona went on to win that game by a score of 6-3, thanks in large part to their bullpen, which recorded the final 19 outs of the game without giving up a run. Rookie Brandon Pfaadt pitched Game 1 and was chased in the third inning. Game 2 brought ace Zac Gallen to the mound and boy did he deliver.
Gallen put the D-backs in a familiar hole, giving up two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but shut the door from there. He allowed just those two runs over six innings pitched and watched his offense put up a run in the fifth and a four-run rally in the sixth to ultimately take the series.
Next came a matchup against the mighty 100-win Los Angeles Dodgers, where the Diamondbacks grabbed momentum early and never gave it up.
It started with a dominant 11-1 victory in Game 1, where the young snakes jumped all over future Hall of Fame Clayton Kershaw and knocked him out of the game after scoring six runs in the first inning.
In Game 2, Arizona again jumped all over a Dodgers starter, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning off rookie Bobby Miller. The D-backs had Gallen on the mound for Game 2, where he picked up yet another victory. Gallen allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings, then the D-backs bullpen handled the rest with 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
This set them up for a chance to sweep their division rivals in Game 3, which they ended up doing with a historic touch, becoming the first team in MLB history to hit four home runs in the same inning of a postseason game.
Geraldo Perdomo got the party started in the bottom of the third with a bomb to right. Ketel Marte hit the D-back’s second big fly two batters later, followed by Christian Walker, and then Gabriel Moreno hit a foul ball tater and a next-pitch real one.
That bottom of the third was a microcosm of what makes the D-backs so good in these playoffs: they capitalize on momentum.
The Diamondbacks outscored the Dodgers 16-0 in the first three innings of the series, beating up LA’s starting pitchers to the tune of a 25.08 ERA over just 4.2 innings.
The 84-win D-backs finished 16 games behind the 100-win Dodgers in 2023 and yet they swiftly handed the perennial NL West favorites their second-straight NLDS exit.
So who exactly are these Diamondbacks who have yet to lose in the playoffs?
Who Are These Undefeated D-backs?
The Diamondbacks are speed-heavy. They were second in the majors with 166 stolen bases.
They have two top-of-the-rotation arms in Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly.
And they play exceptional defense.
Good D, power arms, and speed: yes, they’re fun to watch.
Corbin Carroll is the catalyst for Arizona’s lineup, he’s also one of the most exciting players in baseball. But, the Dbacks are getting key contributions from deadline pick-up Tommy Pham, three-time All-Star Evan Longoria, and top-of-the-order production from Marte and (the severely underrated) Walker.
The offseason deal for Lourdes Gurriel and Moreno have also yielded strong results, both during the regular season and in consecutive playoff series.
With an offense that can score with the best of them, two quality starting pitchers and a bullpen that has rose to the occasion, this is team that is on a Cinderella run that has them just four wins away from the World Series.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the D-backs held onto first place in the NL West at the beginning of the season. The Arizona kids are the real deal and deservedly will be one of the final four teams in MLB as soon as the League Championship series gets underway.
Can it get any hotter in the desert?