Game 6 Recap: Phillies fall hard, Diamondbacks force Game 7

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Diamondbacks vs phillies
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola tips his hat after being relieved during the sixth inning of Game 3 of a baseball NL Division Series against the Atlanta Braves Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A win tonight would have given the Philadelphia Phillies their first back-to-back World Series since 2008-’09. Well, they lost.

Rather than comfortably watching the result of Astros-Rangers from the clubhouse loungers, the Philadelphia Phillies are preparing for Game 7 at Citizens Bank Park.

The sky isn’t falling yet, but let’s look at what went wrong tonight in South Philly.

D-Back Dingers early sink Aaron Nola, offense quiet

How it started for the Phillies:

In what could be described as the quietest moment at Citizens Bank Park of the 2023 playoffs, Tommy Pham got things started for the Arizona Diamondbacks with a solo home run. Reminiscent of what we’ve seen the Phillies do many times this postseason, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. followed Pham, netting back-to-back long balls off Aaron Nola.

Not to be outdone, Evan Longoria smacked a double to give the D-Backs an early 3-0 lead. The crowd noise still overpowered a TBS broadcast booth actively pulling for Game 7, but this felt different. Nola had been nearly perfect to this point in the playoffs.

A J.T. Realmuto double, followed by an icy single from Brandon Marsh, got the Phillies on the board shortly after, but even a 3-1 deficit hasn’t been the norm for this team.

Philadelphia Phillies’ J.T. Realmuto reacts after hitting a home run against Miami Marlins pitcher David Robertson during the fourth inning of Game 2 in an NL wild-card baseball playoff series, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Nola managed to settle things down a bit, but after a promising first inning in which he struck out the side, he would last just 4 1/3 innings after Ketel Marte knocked him out with a triple and a Diamondbacks 4-1 lead.

How it’s going:

After 1 and 2/3 innings of scoreless ball from Michael Lorenzen, Orion Kerkering would enter and surrender another run at the hands of the hot Marte. An odd inning, to be sure that saw the Diamondbacks steal two bases on the usual sure-handed Realmuto. 5-1 Diamondbacks.

Another Marsh hit squashed by a Kyle Schwarber fielder choice and throw out at second as a ball bounced on Arizona catcher Gabriel Moreno. After a failed Philadelphia challenge, you have to wonder what happened to this offense tonight.

A few knocks from Marsh and Alec Bohm made up most of the Phillies’ offensive production tonight. It wasn’t nearly enough, hopefully, a good omen for the pair as the Phils head towards this series finale.

Final Notes and Musings

Nola is battered, but the bullpen holds down the fort.

Nola had a tough night and, by far, his worst start of the 2023 postseason. It’s difficult for the Phillies to lose momentum when playing at home in the playoffs, but some early runs from Arizona affected the crowd.

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning in Game 2 of the baseball NL Championship Series in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

With just four strikeouts and eight baserunners allowed, Nola couldn’t help the Phillies clinch. With his head hung, he returned to the dugout to be replaced by Lorenzen, who managed to limit the damage.

Lorenzen hasn’t been someone we’ve seen much this postseason, but he recorded five outs that the Phillies needed from the middle of their bullpen. Hats off to him and the rest of the Phillies bullpen. Even with Kerkering allowing a run, the Phillies bullpen allowed just four hits and struck out five. Gotta find those silver linings.

Merrill makes me sick.

For what it’s worth, Merrill Kelly held the Phillies’ offense in check. After walking Schwarber and Bryce Harper in the first inning, it looked like the Phils would jump out to an early lead in a big way. No luck.

Kelly worked out of the jam, and only Marsh would drive in a run against the righty. It was ultimately too much to overcome, even with an impressive showing from the Phillies bullpen following Nola’s exit.

Kelly finished the night with eight strikeouts and just three hits allowed but he truly quieted the crowd. That couldn’t be helped.

Up Next for the Phillies:

The Phillies will prepare for an unexpected Game 7 in the Bank, and pitching could be an issue. Zack Wheeler pitched just two days ago, and Nola is unavailable.

Ranger Suárez hasn’t pitched in since October 19th, so you must imagine he’ll get the call for a must-win. Suárez is 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in the 2023 postseason.

Game 7 gets underway at 8:07 EST Tuesday night in Philadelphia. We’ll have coverage at PSN all throughout the day and night.

AP Photo/Matt Slocum