The importance of Game 1 in the short term cannot be overstated. The first game can set the tone for the rest of the tournament, or it can kill it. The phrase “the first game is half the battle” has never been more true than in the short term.
History proves it. In the last 20 World Series, only four teams have overcome a Game 1 loss to win the title. Teams that won Game 1 had an 80% chance of winning.
Winners of the last 20 years after losing Game 1
2009 – New York Yankees
2016 – Chicago Cubs
2017 – Houston Astros
2022 – Houston Astros
The four teams that overcame unfavorable starts have something in common. They were all 100-win teams in the regular season. The 2009 Yankees and 2016 Cubs won 103 games, the 2017 Astros won 101, and last year’s Astros won 106. Winning 100+ games in the regular season is a sign of a very strong offense. Even if they dropped Game 1, they were able to come back for the rest of the series.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were a different story. Arizona is an 84-win team in the regular season. Excluding the shortened season, only the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals reached the World Series with 83 fewer wins than Arizona. In 2006, St. Louis won the championship after winning Game 1 (4-1).
Arizona was relatively less powerful than the Texas Rangers. Therefore, they needed to win Game 1 to even the series against Texas. But they lost Game 1. They even gave up a tying run in the bottom of the ninth and a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th. The loss was so dramatic that it completely changed the tone of the series.
Teams always say something similar after a shocking loss. It’s about putting the past behind you and preparing for what’s to come. It’s often said that “closers need to have amnesia,” and that’s true for all players in baseball, where you have to get used to failure. However, it’s very difficult to put this into practice in the short game, where the “flow” can’t be ignored.토스카지노
In this regard, Arizona’s Game 2 was remarkable. Before the game, Alec Thomas said of Texas’ Globe Life Field, “The Texas fans aren’t as loud as the Philly fans.” He was confident that they had won in tougher environments before.
Indeed, Arizona was undaunted by all the pressure. The bats exploded and the team cruised to a 9-1 victory. It was Arizona’s first road win in the World Series since 2001, when they lost all of their games on the road. With every starter getting a hit, Arizona had the most hits in a World Series game since the Boston Red Sox had 17 in Game 1 in 2007. For reference, the record for most hits in a World Series game was set by Arizona in 2001. They combined for 22 hits in Game 6 that year.
It’s impossible not to mention starter Meryl Kelly. She completely shut down Texas’ firepower. Seven innings, one run, nine strikeouts, no walks. Kelly became the first pitcher of the 2020s to go seven or more innings in the World Series (Stephen Strasburg & Gerrit Cole in 2019).
Here’s how Kelly has pitched this postseason
DS Game 1: 6.1 innings, 0 runs allowed
CS Game 2: 5.2 innings, 4 runs allowed
CS Game 6: 5.0 innings, 1 earned run
WS Game 2: 7.0 innings, 1 earned run
*4 games, 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 innings pitched.
Kelly is pitching impressively in his first postseason start in the majors. After escaping a nasty Dodger nightmare in Game 1 of the Division Series, he’s been a big part of the team’s clutch performances. With No. 1 starter Zach Gallon struggling (2-2, 5.27 ERA), Kelly’s pitching has shined even brighter. Arizona relies heavily on a one-two punch in their starting rotation, and they wouldn’t be in this position if Kelly struggled.
A game in which a loss means elimination from the series is called an elimination game. One way to describe it is “must-win,” which means it’s a must-win. And for Arizona, a game like Game 2 was a near must-win. A loss wouldn’t cost them the series, but it was a game they desperately needed to win.
Arizona bounced back and immediately evened the score, increasing the likelihood that the series would go the distance. It also gave the team that took Game 3 the advantage. In best-of-seven series, the team that wins Game 3 at 1-1 has gone on to win the championship 68 out of 99 times.
Game 3 will switch venues. Chase Field, home of Arizona. Arizona is 3-1 at home this postseason, but the only team scarier than “home Arizona” is “road Texas”. Texas hasn’t lost a game in eight road games this postseason. They are only the second team in history to go 8-0 on the road in a single postseason, joining the 1996 Yankees.
One of the things that is emphasized in the postseason is home field advantage. Typically, teams have better results when playing at home, but this year, that common sense has been thrown out the window. The number of “upsets” where underdogs take a series has made home field advantage irrelevant. This postseason, teams have a combined 15-23 record at home, a winning percentage of just .395. Conversely, teams with a 23-15 record on the road have a whopping 0.605 winning percentage.
Highest single postseason away winning percentage
2023 – 0.605 (23 wins, 15 losses)
2010 – 0.594 (19 wins, 13 losses)
1996 – 0.563 (18 wins, 14 losses)
2019 – 0.541 (20 wins, 17 losses)
*Since the 1995 Division Series
Arizona’s starting pitcher who will have to stop Texas’ road surge is Brandon Pott. Pott made his debut on May 4 of this year against Texas. The first meeting was a complete game shutout. In 4⅔ innings, he gave up seven runs on four home runs. This is the game where he would pay off the debt.
Potts had a serious home run problem early in his career. In his first eight games, he allowed 13 homers in 37 1/3 innings. That’s 3.13 per nine innings. However, with the help of pitching coach Brent Strom, he’s worked on his weaknesses. He moved his plate step closer to first base and sharpened the trajectory of his primary weapon, his sweeper. He also added a sinker to discourage long balls and corrected a habit of dropping his hands and glove in the windup motion. It would be a mistake to think this is the same rookie pitcher that Texas demolished with ease in May.
Pott has been good in the postseason, too. He doesn’t have a win, but he does have a 2.70 ERA (5 runs in 16⅔ innings). He’s been able to minimize runs in his innings and set the stage for his team to win. Tomorrow, Arizona will need to continue their winning formula of scoring runs while the pot holds.
Texas hosts the hometown team with Max Scherzer on the mound. With the old Scherzer we know, the Game 3 starting matchup is a David and Goliath battle. But this year, Scherzer has been up and down, and he’s only just returned from a shoulder injury. His two Championship Series starts were also disappointing, with five runs in four innings and two runs in 2⅔ innings.
With the right-hander out, left-hander Corbin Carroll will bat first and switch-hitter Ketel Marte will bat second. The challenge for Arizona is to take the pressure off Carroll, and Marte, who is coming off an 18-game postseason hitting streak, is doing just that.
Arizona’s small ball needs to get on base to be effective. It’s encouraging that Tommy Pham has picked up his hitting, going 4-for-4 in Game 2. It will also be interesting to see if slugger Christian Walker breaks his silence with a hit in his final at-bat of Game 2. If Walker comes alive, Arizona will be able to add some big balls to their small ball arsenal.
There’s still a long way to go to win a championship. But Arizona has a chance to close out the series at home while picking up a valuable road win. The Chase Field outfield pool could be a festive place once again. Meanwhile, tickets for Games 3, 4, and 5 at Chase Field are already sold out.