‘Fearless’ D-backs keep finding ways to gain WC ground

‘Fearless’ D-backs keep finding ways to gain WC ground

Aggression on basepaths, Gurriel Jr.’s defense help Arizona nab fourth straight win in extras

6:45 AM UTC

CHICAGO — When the D-backs came into Wrigley Field on Thursday to open a four-game set, they were trying to keep hold of the No. 3 National League Wild Card spot.

Three days — and three wins — later, Arizona has not only strengthened its hold, it’s suddenly just one game behind the Cubs, who hold the No. 2 spot.

It hasn’t been playoff baseball, but it sure has felt like it, with all three contests being tightly contested in front of big crowds with just a touch of fall chill in the air.

On Saturday afternoon, the two teams locked up in a 10-inning battle that resulted in a 3-2 Arizona win.

  • Games remaining: at CHC (1), at NYM (4), vs. CHC (3), vs. SF (2), at NYY (3), at CWS (3), vs. HOU (3)
  • Standings update: The D-backs (75-68) hold the No. 3 Wild Card spot and are 1.5 games ahead of the Marlins and 2.5 games ahead of both the Reds and Giants. The D-backs trail the Cubs by one game for the No. 2 spot.

Here’s a look at some things you should know about Saturday’s game:

It didn’t start out particularly well for the D-backs
Arizona second baseman Ketel Marte fouled the first pitch of the game off his right knee and immediately collapsed to the ground. After being examined by a team trainer, he stayed in the game and singled to left.

Marte would eventually leave the game in the seventh inning as the knee stiffened up on him, and he was limping in the clubhouse after the game.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said X-rays taken of Marte’s knee were negative and that he would be day to day. While the possibility exists that he could play in Sunday’s series finale, it also would not be a surprise if Lovullo gives him a day off.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. continues to shine defensively
When the D-backs acquired Gurriel from the Blue Jays in an offseason trade, there were some questions about his defense in left field.

And while Gurriel doesn’t always make it look easy out there, he has found a way time and time again to come up with big defensive plays this year. On Saturday, there were two.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Yan Gomes hit a ball off the wall in left. Gurriel fielded it on one bounce and fired a strike to second to nail Gomes.

That was important because Nick Madrigal followed with a double to right that would have scored Gomes from second with the game-winning run. Instead, Madrigal was left stranded at second and the game went to extra innings.

“I thought it might be a home run because of the wind and everything, but once it bounced off the wall I knew I had a play at second,” Gurriel said.

In the 10th inning, Gurriel made a very nice play on a deep fly ball from Ian Happ that would prove crucial, as the Cubs were only able to score one run that inning.

The D-backs once again found a way to pull it out
While the Cubs have found ways to make outs on the bases in the series, the D-backs have used their speed and aggression to take advantage of Chicago mistakes and to score runs.

Corbin Carroll led off the fifth with a single to center and promptly stole second base, eventually scoring the only run Arizona would get before extra innings.

In the 10th, the D-backs took advantage of a wild pitch and a passed ball to score a pair of runs, which would prove to be the difference.

“Look, we made a couple of mistakes, we know what they are,” Lovullo said. “But when we needed to, we rebounded, we did the things we were supposed to do. We played fast. We played aggressively. We played fearless, and it showed up at the right times and helped us win the game. I can give you 15 things that took place today where, if it doesn’t go that way, we might have a totally different outcome. But I’m really proud of the way we came out and responded and did our job and won the game.”

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