The Arizona Diamondbacks almost pulled off another come-from-behind rally to end the regular season last night, but ultimately came up short. Despite a late-game grand slam (which seems to have become as common a base hit this week), the team lost 7-5 to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chase Field on Wednesday.
Going into yesterday's game, the D-Backs were facing a must-win situation if they'd hoped to get home-field advantage in this weekend's National League Division Series. Arizona fell into a hole quickly when the Dodgers amassed a 4-0 lead by the fifth inning.
The Diamondbacks' struggle became moot by that point, as the Milwaukee Brewers secured a victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates around that time and locked down a better record (and thus, home-field advantage in the NLDS). As a result, Arizona skipper Kirk Gibson pulled all his starters from the game in the seventh in preparations for the postseason.
Still, that didn't stop the D-Backs from pulling out a last-minute victory last night. After L.A. reliever Ramon Troncoso loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, Cole Gillespie did his best Ryan Roberts impression with a grand slam that cut the score to 7-4. Henry Blanco then stepped to the plate at unleashed a homer to left to add another run. The potential rally was extinguished when Sean Burroughs and John McDonald produced back-to-back pop outs.
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Arizona finishes the regular season at 94-86, their third-best won-loss record in team history. Now, it's onto the long-awaited playoffs.
After a flurry of epic finishes last night across the bigs, the postseason pairings for the opening round of the playoffs are set in stone. Arizona will start their NLDS on Saturday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee and have a considerable challenge ahead of them. The Brew Crew's got the formidable duo of Prince Fielder -- one of home run leaders in the NL -- and Ryan Braun -- who joined the elite "30/30 Club" this season and has one of the best on-base percentages in the MLB.
Needless to say, the D-Backs pitching staff has their work cut out for them. Arizona's ace Ian Kennedy (21-4, 2.88 ERA) is first up in the rotation and will engage in a pitching duel with Yovani Gallardo (17-10, 3.52 ERA) on Saturday night. Game Two on Sunday will feature Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.54) matching up with Milwaukee's Shaun Marcum (13-7, 3.54). The Snakes will then head home for Game Three on Tuesday (and Game Four, if necessary, on Wednesday) although neither team has decided who will head to the mound.
Buckle your seatbelts, Diamondbacks fans, because its about to get bumpy. Starting times for each game haven't been announced yet, but tickets and more info is available at www.dbacks.com.