Ketel Marte does his best Luis Gonzalez imitation
Marte walks it off for the Diamondbacks against the Phillies
Ketel Marte has the Arizona faithful dreaming again. Marte hit a walk-off single in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series to give the D-backs their first NLCS win since the 2001 postseason.
With Luis Gonzalez in attendance, Marte hit a bases-loaded, game-winning single that was reminiscent of Gonzalez’s walk-off hit in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series against Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera and the New York Yankees.
Obviously, the stakes were much higher for Gonzalez. Nonetheless, the the third postseason walk-off hit in Diamondbacks history was crucial too. Arizona avoided falling 0-3 to the Phillies.
Ketel Marte gives Diamondbacks life
After losing the first two games in Philadelphia, the Diamondbacks returned to Chase Field in need of momentum and a win. Now they’ll head into Game 4 Friday night with a chance to tying the best-of-seven NLCS.
“To come up and come back and give the team a win, it’s just the most important thing,” Marte said after the 2-1 victory at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks’ 2-1 victory was a textbook pitching duel.
Arizona rookie Brandon Pfaadt held the Phillies to two hits with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Phillies veteran Ranger Suarez pitched over 5 1/3 scoreless inning while giving up three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.
The game ultimately depended on the bullpen. With runners on second and first with no outs in the seventh inning, right-handed pitcher Ryan Thompson induced a double play to give Arizona a chance to escape the inning without allowing a run. However, a wild pitch by Thompson allowed Bryce Harper to score.
Lourdes Gurriel countered in the bottom half of the seventh with a double to tie the game. Alek Thomas scored from first to even the score at 1. Following his RBI to tie the game, Gurriel initiated the ninth-inning rally by working a walk against Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel.
However with the infield playing in, Gurriel was thrown out at home by Trea Turner as he tried to end the game by beating out the throw. When all seemed lost, a walk by Geraldo Perdomo loaded the bases for Marte. With an 0-1 count Marte blasted a 96-mph fastball to the center to drive in the winning run.
Inspired by Gonzalez
Marte’s game has been inspired by Gonzalez since his arrival in Arizona. He never thought he would imitate his mentor, though. The tips he’s learned and the hard work he’s done has him ready to deliver in October.
“It feels great,” Marte said. “It feels great obviously. I’ve been battling, and I consider myself a grinder.”
The Nizao, Dominican Republic, native has not faltered in the postseason. Since his first playoff game in 2017, Marte has registered a hit in each game he’s played. He rides an 11-game hit streak in the postseason. On Thursday Marte had his second postseason game with three hits. His first was in the 2017 National League wild card game against the Rockies.
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Marte, 30 is finding himself back into form. Since his lone All-Star season in 2019, when he finished fourth in the NL MVP voting, he has struggled trying to replicate his 32-homer and 92-RBI season. After three consecutives average seasons, he is back to bring the superstar Arizona signed to a five-year, $76 million contract.
Marte hit 25 home runs and 82 RBIs in the regular season, while batting .278. He had a 4.9 WAR, which was his highest since 2019. He’s been an important veteran presence for his young Diamondbacks teammates, so it comes as no surprise he won Arizona the game against a tough Kimbrel.
“That was incredible,” Pfaadt said. “Right man, right spot. Ketel is amazing. He can do that in his sleep, so having Ketel and all those guys start getting hot and we’re going to be a dangerous team for sure.”
Marte and the Diamondbacks have been waiting since 2017 to return to the playoffs. During that stretch Marte has taken on the leader’s role for this team. Although he is a man of few words, he lets his actions speak for him.
“Being one of the oldest guys that had been in the team, I want to give everything that I’ve got,” Marte said. “And this is the right opportunity to show that. And I give credit to the front office for putting this team together. I’m excited to be fighting.”
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