The AL kicked off Tuesday’s four-game wild-card slate with decisive wins by the Rangers and Twins.
The NL’s first contribution to the day was a tense affair in Milwaukee. Ultimately, the Arizona Diamondbacks took a 1-0 series lead on the Milwaukee Brewers with an offensive comeback and a shutdown performance by their bullpen.
Later, the Phillies, led by seven one-run innings from Zack Wheeler, cruised to a fairly stress-free 4-1 victory over the Marlins in Philadelphia.
The teams will be back at it Wednesday, with the Diamondbacks and Phillies looking to advance to the NLDS and the Brewers and Marlins trying to keep their playoff dreams alive.
The Phillies got help from every part of their lineup in a 4-1 win over the Marlins. Zack Wheeler struck out eight, conceding just five hits and one run over 6⅔ innings. Nick Castellanos hit two massive doubles in the fourth and eighth innings that contributed to Philadelphia runs. Trea Turner stole two bases to bring his 2023 tally to 32-for-32. Cristian Pache made plays in the outfield and recorded an RBI, and every Phillies starter recorded a hit in the victory.
Manager Rob Thomson made all of the right moves in Philadelphia’s postseason opener, even down to knowing when it was time to pull Wheeler and insert José Alvarado to record the final out of the seventh inning. Philadelphia’s defense of its NL pennant began with an all-around team win.
Castellanos started a fourth-inning rally in a rather unconventional way. The outfielder hit an awkwardly hanging blooper into right field and turned it into a double. After beating the tag, Castellanos celebrated by getting up and giving his teammates the finger … the ring finger, to be exact.
In response, his teammates celebrated wildly and brought in two more runs. Bryson Stott hit an RBI single that scored J.T. Realmuto. Castellanos tried coming around from second but was tagged out at home. Pache added to his exceptional night by hitting an RBI single to score Stott. Those two runs provided a critical cushion when the Marlins scored a run in the seventh and threatened to do more damage.
Pache did exactly what Thomson needed him to do Tuesday. This season, in addition to his defensive play in the outfield, the left fielder had 16 hits, including two home runs, against lefties. In Game 1, Pache robbed Luis Arraez in his first plate appearance and then delivered on offense, hitting a ground ball past Marlins southpaw Jesús Luzardo to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.
Braxton Garrett (9-7, 3.66 ERA) takes the mound for Miami and will face Phillies ace Aaron Nola (12-9, 4.46 ERA) on Wednesday. The game will begin at 8:08 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN.
With a win, the Phillies can advance to face the Braves in the NLDS.
American Family Field grew raucous in the first two innings as the Brewers built a 3-0 lead on a Carlos Santana RBI single in the first and a Tyrone Taylor two-run homer in the second, but the D-backs responded quickly. NL Rookie of the Year favorite Corbin Carroll got his first postseason hit, RBI, run and homer on a two-run dinger in the third inning, and Ketel Marte made it back-to-back homers on the next pitch.
One inning later, Gabriel Moreno hit a solo homer to give Arizona the lead. Brewers ace Corbin Burnes entered the game having not allowed a long ball in his first seven career postseason outings, but Arizona changed that and then some in his four innings of work.
The D-backs’ bullpen contributed 6⅓ innings of shutdown baseball after rookie starter Brandon Pfaadt exited in the third inning, and the lineup contributed two insurance runs in the ninth, giving Arizona a win in what was arguably a must-win game for Milwaukee with Burnes on the mound.
The Brewers’ best chance at a comeback came in the fifth inning, when they loaded the bases on D-backs reliever Ryne Nelson. Arizona then brought in Ryan Thompson to face Taylor, who hit what would’ve been a game-tying double … if not for a bonkers play by third baseman Evan Longoria.
Longoria somehow hauled in a line drive to left, then doubled up Willy Adames at second for an inning-ending double-play. That was as close as the Brewers got to tying it.
At 23 years and 43 days old, Carroll became the youngest player in Arizona history to homer in the postseason. His dinger off Burnes was a grown-man hit, too, traveling 444 feet into the stadium’s upper deck.
Carroll finished the game 2-for-3 with two walks, doing exactly what made him go from top prospect at the start of the season to the centerpiece of the Diamondbacks’ future.
The Diamondbacks send ace Zac Gallen (17-9, 3.47 ERA) to the mound against a starter still to be determined for the Brewers. Milwaukee likely would’ve given the ball to Brandon Woodruff in Game 2, but a shoulder injury kept him off the wild-card roster. Game 2 is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. ET Wednesday and will be broadcast on ESPN2.
With a win, the Diamondbacks can close out the series and advance to face the Dodgers in the NLDS.