A quick glance at the box score of Game 1 of the NL Wild Card series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers would suggest that the home team likely sailed to a win. Milwaukee outhit Arizona, 12-9. Milwaukee tallied a whopping 16 baserunners on the night — including 10 over the first five innings — knocking D-backs starter Brandon Pfaadt out after just 2.2 innings. And yet, the only number Arizona is really concerned with is the runs column at the end of the night: Diamondbacks 6, Brewers 3.
Yes, Milwaukee turned 16 baserunners into just three runs, while Arizona came up with every big swing of the bat en route to stealing Game 1 despite an overwhelming starting pitching disadvantage on paper.
Early on, it looked like this game would play out largely how we all expected it to when the D-backs announced that the Pfaadt — not Zac Gallen or Merrill Kelly, each of whom pitched over the weekend — would be getting the ball for his first postseason start against Milwaukee ace Corbin Burnes. The Brewers jumped on the rookie early, with an RBI single from Carlos Santana and a two-run homer from Tyrone Taylor staking the home team to a 3-0 lead and getting American Family Field rocking.
A three-run lead, a former Cy Young winner on the mound and Arizona needing 19 outs from its bullpen — it looked like Milwaukee was well on their way. And then Corbin Carroll happened:
Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte go back-to-back, and we have a tie game in Milwaukee! pic.twitter.com/feoD9C2rzp— The Comeback (@thecomeback) October 4, 2023
Carroll, in his first playoff game after a sensational rookie season, went back-to-back with Ketel Marte, and just like that, the D-backs had tied things up. The very next inning, it was time for another promising rookie, catcher Gabriel Moreno, to take his turn:
Burnes would exit after just four innings, with his team trailing 4-3 ... and thus began a series of excruciatingly close calls for Milwaukee as they simply could not find a way to push across the tying run. Three straight hits to start the bottom of the fifth loaded the bases with nobody out. Brice Turang struck out, but Taylor looked to have put the Brewers back in front with a scorching line drive down the third-base line. Evan Longoria, however, had other ideas:
The next inning, Milwaukee looked to have put its first two men on — only for Christian Yelich to overrun the second-base bag on William Contreras’ infield single and get picked off, again by Longoria. They put a man on in the seventh, too, only for Josh Donaldson to ground into an inning-ending double play. With so many missed opportunities, it was only a matter of time before Arizona put it to bed, and sure enough, Christian Walker did the honors off Devin Williams in the top of the ninth:
3 RUN LEAD COURTESY OF CHRISTIAN WALKER pic.twitter.com/DM9POKeiSD— PHNX Sports (@PHNX_Sports) October 4, 2023
It’s hard to overstate how big of a win this was for Arizona. Brandon Woodruff’s shoulder injury took a big bite out of Milwaukee’s pitching depth, and now the Brewers will need to win two in a row behind Freddy Peralta and a far less inspiring option, likely lefty Wade Miley. The D-backs, on the other hand, stole a win with Pfaadt, and now have Gallen and Kelly waiting in the wings for Games 2 and 3. Gallen will get the ball on Wednesday night, with first pitch set for 7:08 p.m. ET. The Brewers will need Peralta to bring his absolute best stuff with him, and they’ll also need to figure out how to pick up a big hit or two.