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D-backs still in search of playoff berth entering final series

D-backs still in search of playoff berth entering final series

5:04 AM UTC

CHICAGO — The D-backs will have to wait at least one more day to clinch their first postseason berth since 2017 as they lost to the White Sox, 3-1, on Thursday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The D-backs scored their only run on Ketel Marte’s sac fly that plated Corbin Carroll in the top of the third. Carroll reached with a one-out triple, his 10th of the season. With that triple, Carroll became the first player in AL/NL history to record 10+ triples, 25+ home runs and 50+ stolen bases in a season.

In order to clinch an NL Wild Card spot Thursday, the D-backs would have had to win and had the Cubs lose Thursday night to the Braves. Chicago did indeed lose, getting swept in Atlanta, bringing Arzona’s magic number down to one.

  • Games remaining (3): vs. HOU (3)
  • Standings update: The D-backs (84-75) hold the second Wild Card spot. They are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Marlins (82-76), who had their game suspended Thursday night, and Miami owns the tiebreaker. The D-backs lead the Cubs (82-77) by 2 games and they are 3 games ahead of the Reds (81-78). Cincinnati holds the tiebreaker over the D-backs. Arizona holds the tiebreaker over the Cubs.

The loss to the White Sox was the end of an exhausting road trip for the D-backs. For the second time in two weeks they had to visit New York and Chicago. The first time they played the Cubs and Mets and this time it was the Yankees and White Sox.

Last Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium was rained out, which necessitated a lot of juggling the rest of the trip.

Saturday’s rainout was made up Monday, which meant the D-backs’ series against the White Sox was pushed from Monday through Wednesday to Tuesday through Thursday, wiping out the scheduled off-day at home on Thursday that many players were looking forward to.

Sunday and Monday’s games in New York were played in almost constant rain and mist and the D-backs also played through some rain towards the end of Tuesday night’s opener with the White Sox.

“It feels like we’ve spent the past month in either New York or Chicago, right?” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “And it’s been a little bit of [a] grind, but we’re conditioned to it, that’s what we’re supposed to do.

“I think maybe we are a little bit fatigued, but I think every team is right now. But coming home will be nice. We want to get home, regroup the troops a little bit and play a good baseball game.”

The D-backs will host the Astros Friday-Sunday and the stakes could not be more clear. Win out and they’re in the postseason as the NL’s No. 2 Wild Card. Even if they lose some or all of those games, they could still get in with losses by the Cubs or Marlins.

The D-backs are taking nothing for granted at this point, which is why Lovullo was loath to discuss possible pitching plans for the postseason. Players have followed his lead, choosing to not try and keep track of all the different combinations that could get them into the postseason.

“I don’t think any of us talked about it,” center fielder Alek Thomas said of the possibility of clinching Thursday. “I think it’ll definitely come as, not a surprise but like, ‘Oh, we clinched. That’s sick.’ Our mindset is fully on the game and just being in the present moment and trying to take care of business on the field.”

With the postseason spot still up in the air, the D-backs will go ahead and start ace Zac Gallen on Friday night against the Astros, which means the earliest he could pitch in the postseason would be Game 2 of the best-of-three Wild Card Series. Had they clinched Thursday, it’s possible Gallen would have only thrown a few innings Friday or been skipped altogether so he could go in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series.

Saturday’s starter is listed as TBD and will again depend on whether the D-backs have clinched a spot by then or not. If they haven’t, Merrill Kelly will get the ball, which would mean he couldn’t pitch in the postseason until Game 3 of the Wild Card Series.

But all that postseason talk is just that: talk. They still have to win some games.

“We got to flush [this loss] and come out tomorrow and play our best game,” Lovullo said.

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