The Arizona Diamondbacks forced a decisive Game 5 in Milwaukee. Can they pull out yet another surprising win against tough odds?
The Arizona Diamondbacks adopted a "Why not us" mantra for their unlikely MLB playoff run. No one picked them to even finish over .500 and few picked them to beat the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS. After falling 0-2 the odds were even further stacked against them, but two convincing home whoopings sent this series back to Cheese Town tied-up for a final Game 5.
The pitching duel will be a rematch from Game 1 that featured two legit aces with Ian Kennedy dueling Yovani Gallardo. "Yo", as he's called by the Brew Crew, won the first battle allowing just one run over eight innings with nine strike outs.
Ian Kennedy, or "Nerf Beard" as he's called by local radio, allowing four runs in 6.2 innings including a 2-run home run to Prince Fielder.
The D-backs have full confidence in Kennedy.
"Extremely confident. He's been our force all season long," closer J.J. Putz said. "If you could draw it up any other way, I don't think you would. I think Ian is the guy you want on the hill in Game 5 on an elimination game like this. I think everybody in our clubhouse is excited to go out there and see him do what he does."
The Brewers have the best home field record at home and will get a boost from their rowdy crowd. D-backs center fielder Chris Young explained that having all that negative energy directed at you definitely impacts the game. Players sometimes try too hard to quiet the crowd and in baseball, Young explains, trying too hard often proves counter-productive.
The D-backs feel they can get to Gallardo by being more patient and taking advantage of mistakes that all pitchers makes at some point.
Kennedy feels that the experience in Game 1 will help in Game 5, "I've definitely got the first one under my belt and this hopefully helps me in my next start."
TV schedule info
Game 5 starts at 2:00 p.m. Arizona Time (5:00 p.m. ET) on TBS. Game 5 of the Phillies vs. Cardinals NLDS series will follow. The winner of the two series will meet on Sunday and Monday for Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS.
The D-backs, if they beat the Brewers on Friday, could start at home if the Cardinals win. They packed for a five-day road trip just in case they have to go straight from Milwaukee to Philadelphia for two games of the NLCS.
Here's Ian Kennedy on Thursday talking about the Game 5 start and here's video of the Diamondbacks getting a send off from team employees before boarding the bus to the airport.
Here's another look at the Game 5 from AZ Snake Pit:
Winning Game 5: What The D-Backs Need To Do - AZ Snake Pit
So far, so good. The Diamondbacks have already done the bulk of the heavy lifting, winning back-to-back elimination games against the Brewers, setting up a winner-take-all battle in Milwaukee later today. It'll be a rematch of Game 1, where Ian Kennedy went up against Yovanni Gallardo, with the home team prevailing 4-1. Obviously, the visitors will be hoping to reverse things this afternoon. Let's look at what they'll need to do, if they are to progress to the Championship Series.