The Astros will have the first turn to seal their pass to the next round on Sunday. But, regardless of their fate, on Monday starting at 5:07 in the afternoon the Philadelphia Phillies They will try to advance to their second consecutive World Series in search of revenge against Houston.
Leading 3-2 in the National League Championship Series, the Phillies will have a chance to conclude it on Monday at their stadium, against a Arizona Diamondbacks who evened the hostilities 2-2 after starting behind in the series 0-2, thus forcing the return to Philadelphia.
The Phillies seem to have everything going for them, as so far in the playoffs they have not lost in six games at their home, Citizens Bank Park.
“This is not over. We’ve got to show up on Monday, step on the gas, get after this and play good baseball,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said in Saturday’s postgame conference.
After beating the Diamondbacks 6-1 on Saturday to put the series in a dead heat, the Phillies They will seek to repeat their history of 2008 and 2009, when they played consecutive World Series, dividing honors.
On that occasion, the Phillies won the title of Major League champions in 2008 by beating the Tampa Bay Rays. But the next year they fell to the New York Yankees, who have not returned to a Fall Classic since.
Right-hander Aaron Nola, who has won all three starts he has made in these 2023 playoffs, will start on Monday for Philadelphia, after already beating the Diamondbacks last Tuesday by shooting at them six scoreless innings, allowing only three hits and striking out seven, and helping the Phillies take a 2-0 lead in the Championship Series.
Nola also already had wins over Miami in the National League wild card series, and over the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series. In 18.2 innings he has struck out 19 and has a sensational 0.96 ERA. He has only had two earned runs scored against him throughout the three games he has pitched. And he has only given away two tickets.
Arizona, for its part, will send right-handed Merrill Kelly to the mound. Kelly was the loser of that second game on Tuesday, allowing four earned runs, three of them on home runs. He struck out six in 5.2 innings.
“First of all, we respect where we are going and the team we are playing against. But again, we have to focus on ourselves, in our dugout, in our dressing room and just go out and do the things we do best. We made some mistakes today (Saturday) and didn’t take advantage of some key situations, and that was the difference in the game. We know what awaits us. We knew we were going to go back to Philadelphia anyway, and we were going to have to win baseball games there. But I don’t want to think about Game 7, because anything can happen in a Game 7 environment. We have to go out and play our best game in game six,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said at the press conference after Saturday’s setback.
“We have a very difficult pitcher that we are going to face (Nola), but once again, I am going to focus on our group. I believe in Merrill Kelly. “I believe in guys to go out and execute and play at a higher level and make plays and do things well,” the Arizona manager added.
But the Phillies return home in their prime after continuing the hit party in Arizona, when the designated hitter Kyle Schwarber hit his fifth home run of the Championship Series.
Schwarber, who is hitting .262 in these playoffs but had failed to hit a full return in the Phillies’ previous two series, has let loose against the Diamondbacks with his power-play offense.
And against Kelly he had two last Tuesday in the 10-0 beating of Philadelphia.
First baseman Bryce Harper has also been poison in this series against Arizona, and has hit two balls out of the park, including one on Saturday in the 6-1 victory. He has five home runs in total since he started the postseason. He is averaging .343 in the playoffs with eight RBIs and 14 runs scored.
Philadelphia, which also had a home run from its catcher JT Realmuto on Saturday, has so far totaled 23 home runs in this postseason, leading all active teams still in these playoffs. That’s five more home runs than the Astros’ 18.
Of the Phillies’ 23 home runs, an impressive 17 have come in their park, in just six games.
Among the four active teams still in the playoffs, Philadelphia leads in both batting and pitching, with averages of .265 and 1.78 respectively. In fact, it is the only team with an ERA below two runs.
The Phillies have dominated the Diamondbacks 27-12 in scoring, demonstrating the marked offensive difference between both teams.