Arizona never trailed in any game of this year’s playoff meeting between NL West foes, sweeping a Dodgers team that found itself in an all-too-familiar place Wednesday night at Chase Field: left to pick up the pieces of another 100-win season that ended abruptly at the hands of their division’s runner-up.
After surprisingly losing to the Padres in last year’s NLDS, the Dodgers were delivered an even more decisive blow this time around against a second-place Diamondbacks team that outpitched, outslugged and outplayed them at every level to advance to the National League Championship Series for the third time in franchise history and the first time since 2007.
After two straight first-inning barrages gave them early advantages in Games 1 and 2, the Diamondbacks waited a couple innings before their Game 3 strike. Their bite was just as fatal, though, leaving another Dodgers starting pitcher in a daze.
Lance Lynn’s home run woes persisted into the playoffs as the Diamondbacks mashed four solo shots in the third inning. They launched a four-seamer. They smashed two sliders. They walloped a cutter. All four pitches found the middle of the zone. The Diamondbacks, who outhomered the Dodgers 9-1 and outscored them 19-6 in the series, did not miss.
Meanwhile, rookie Brandon Pfaadt gave the Diamondbacks 4.1 scoreless innings on Wednesday, needing only the fourth-inning attack for support in the 4-2 win that moved Arizona to the NLCS.
It was a stunning development for a Dodgers team that won the season series against Arizona, finished 16 games up in the division and hadn’t dropped three consecutive games to the Diamondbacks since September 2017.
As difficult as it would have been to overcome their starting pitching woes, the Dodgers offense that scored more runs than any team in franchise history and was supposed to carry them through the postseason offered no help. Their two MVP candidates, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, finished 1-for-21 in the series.
On Wednesday, for the second time in the series, 23-year-old Gabriel Moreno delivered the decisive blow. This time, he seemed to do it twice.
Geraldo Perdomo, Marte and Christian Walker had all already gone deep against Lynn, who allowed more homers than any pitcher in the majors this year, when Moreno appeared to do the same. When his deep drive to right field was ruled foul, he sent the next pitch 420 feet for his second home run of the series.
The Dodgers mounted a late attack behind Will Smith, Chris Taylor and Kiké Hernández, who was inserted into the starting lineup against a right-handed pitcher to try to provide a lift, but the stars who would need to guide their team failed to deliver, and their attempts to battle back were futile. The top three hitters in the Dodgers’ lineup — Betts, Freeman and J.D. Martinez — went 0-for-12 with the season on the line, offering little against another Arizona starter the Dodgers had mashed in the regular season.
The Dodgers’ 11 straight postseason appearances are the longest active streak of all four major professional sporting leagues, but it has yielded just one championship in that time. The young D-backs, who are in the postseason for the seventh time in franchise history, were not intimated. A date with the Phillies or Braves is on tap.
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