All signs point to … a missed opportunity by Diamondbacks in Game 3 World Series loss to Rangers

Jonah Heim of the Texas Rangers tags out Christian Walker of the Arizona Diamondbacks at home plate in the second inning during Game 3 of the 2023 World Series at Chase Field Monday. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — For the first time in franchise history, the Arizona Diamondbacks lost a World Series game at Chase Field.

As disappointed home team fans poured out of the ballpark Monday night, one man lamented finding the answer to moving forward.

“I’ve got to find a way to turn the page, too, and work through the frustration of what happened today,” manager Torey Lovullo said after the 3-1 loss.

The Texas Rangers’ pitching staff held Arizona’s high-powered offense to only one run in Game 3 and now lead the series 2-1. Arizona won all four games at Chase Field during the team’s 2001 World Series victory against the New York Yankees.

With the win, the Rangers are 9-0 on the road during the 2023 postseason.

The Diamondbacks got a hold of Rangers’ starting pitcher Max Scherzer early in the game, but were unable to execute in the first three innings.

With Christian Walker on second base and no outs, Tommy Pham looked to get the Diamondbacks on the board first. Pham sliced a sharp single to right fielder Adolis Garcia, and Walker ran through the stop sign from third base coach Tony Perezchica. Walker was tagged out at home, and Arizona was unable to score the rest of the inning.

“The last time I saw him, he was waving and I never saw the stop sign,” Walker said. “Just probably trying to do too much and should have been more aware.”

In a game defined by momentum, the Diamondbacks lost all of it in the second inning.

“In very critical times of the game, whether it’s in the first inning, the second inning, you just don’t know when it’s going to happen, we’ve been really good at executing at a high level,” Lovullo said. “Yeah, I feel like that was a huge momentum swing. You’re looking at first and third potentially and no outs.”

Lovullo said Walker was accountable for his baserunning mistake, and he considers him to be one of the Diamondbacks’ best instinctual baserunners.

While the Diamondbacks could have potentially scored their first runs of the game in the second, Texas scored all three of its runs in the next inning against rookie starting pitcher Brandon Pfaadt.

Pfaadt surrendered three two-out runs, including a two-run home run to Corey Seager.

Despite the inning, Lovullo credited Pfaadt for his performance.

“(Pfaadt’s start) was super important considering what we’re going to go through tomorrow,” Lovullo said. “Pitching into the sixth inning, giving us a little bit extra was a big moment for him, because I know I extended him a little bit, but he accepted that responsibility. He did enough to win the baseball game.”

Pfaadt faced 21 batters and threw 87 pitches in Game 3 — both of which are postseason career highs. The Diamondbacks used five bullpen arms to get the final 11 outs, and will look to the bullpen for all 27 outs in Game 4.

The legend of 2023 Ketel Marte continues to grow in the desert. Marte’s sixth-inning single extended his record MLB postseason hitting streak to 19 games. His hitting streak began in Game 1 of the 2017 Wild Card Series, and has continued in every Arizona postseason game since.

The Rangers’ bullpen stepped up after Scherzer exited the game with back tightness in the beginning of the fourth inning. Texas’ bullpen threw six innings and only allowed one run en route to the victory.

Rangers veteran right-hander Jon Gray was especially dominant in his three-inning relief appearance. Gray made only his fourth-career relief appearance in his nine-year MLB career, and retired nine of 10 batters he faced. Gray stepped up for a Texas bullpen that likely will be heavily relied on for all 27 outs on Tuesday. Texas’ bullpen surrendered five earned runs in the Diamondbacks’ 9-1 Game 2 win Saturday night.

Arizona relief pitcher Joe Mantiply will start Game 4 for Arizona.

Mantiply started the only other bullpen game for the Diamondbacks this postseason against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. Mantiply tossed one inning and struck out one Philly in his appearance.

Tuesday night’s start will only be the fifth of his six-year MLB career.

The Diamondbacks’ bullpen is well rested, so much of the team’s dynamic arms will appear in an all-crucial Game 4 at Chase Field. Kevin Ginkel, Ryan Thompson and Paul Sewald — who all boast sub-three ERAs during the postseason — haven’t pitched since Game 1 of the World Series last Friday.

Those three pitchers are in addition to reliable bullpen arms like Andrew Saalfrank, Kyle Nelson and Luis Frias, who pitched in Game 3, but might be called to pitch in back-to-back days.

Andrew Heaney will start for the Rangers in Game 4.

Heaney, who started 28 games for the Rangers during the regular season, allowed three earned runs as the starting pitcher during Game 4 of the American League Championship series. Heaney couldn’t escape the first inning, which resulted in the Houston Astros exploding for 10 runs in the game.

All four of the Rangers’ Game 3 bullpen arms hold sub-3.50 ERAs during the postseason. The Diamondbacks earned much more success against Chris Stratton and Martin Perez during Game 2, and both players will have two days of rest for Game 4.

Lovullo is putting Game 3 behind him and focusing on the all-important Game 4.

Tyler Bednar(he/him/his)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Tyler Bednar expects to graduate in May 2025 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism. Bednar has interned with the Miracle League of Arizona in Scottsdale.