Astros Beat Diamondbacks, but Both Advance to Playoffs

Diamondbacks celebrate after clinching the playoffs despite losing to the Astros
(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

Astros 1, Diamondbacks 0

PHOENIX, Sep. 30 — A one-out double by Jose Abreu drove in Kyle Tucker from first base, giving the Houston Astros a 1–0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday evening. With the victory, the Astros have clinched a playoff berth in the American League and still have a chance to win the AL West. Despite the loss, the Arizona Diamondbacks — two years removed from a 52–110 season — clinched a wild card berth in the NL thanks to the St Louis Cardinals beating the Cincinnati Reds, 15–6, about 20 minutes before this game ended.

Classic Pitching Duel

Merrill Kelly and Justin Verlander traded zeroes through the first three innings. In the top of the fourth, after a one-out walk by right fielder Kyle Tucker, Abreu belted a deep fly to left-center. It crashed off the wall for a double, scoring Tucker from first. A fly to right by left fielder Chas McCormick advanced Abreu to third, but a called strikeout by center fielder Mauricio Dubon left Abreu stranded. [Top of sixth inning]

Verlander pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits while walking three and striking out five. Phil Maton pitched a scoreless sixth, his only blemish coming when he plunked Alek Thomas with two outs.

Missed Opportunity

The Diamondbacks had a golden opportunity in the seventh. With Kendall Graveman on the mound, third baseman Evan Longoria hit a high, slow one-hopper up the middle. Graveman leapt and tipped the ball but could not haul it in. It settled harmlessly between him and the shortstop, giving Longoria an infield single. Catcher Gabriel Moreno followed with a single to right, bringing up shortstop Geraldo Perdomo with runners on first and second and nobody out. His sacrifice bunt moved them to second and third, now with one out. Corbin Carroll walked, loading the bases.

Exit stage left for Graveman as Hector Neris took the hill. First to face him was second baseman Ketel Marte, who whiffed three straight splitters. That brought up designated hitter Tommy Pham, who was robbed of a game-tying single the night before. He cue-balled a soft grounder on the first pitch. Alex Bregman charged hard, snatching the dribbler and nabbing Pham by less than a step to end the inning.

Astros Close Out Diamondbacks, but Both Teams Clinch

Both teams tossed a scoreless eighth. Joe Mantiply and Luis Frias combined to pitch a 1-2-3 top of the ninth. Bryan Abreu entered the game in the bottom of the ninth, shooting for his fifth save of the year. Pinch-hitter Jake McCarthy led off with a single to left-center. As Moreno batted, McCarthy bolted for second. A perfect throw from Martin Maldonado gunned him down. Moreno ultimately grounded to third, bringing up Perdomo, who walked. Up came Carroll as the winning run, but he struck out to end the game.

Quick Hits

With his fifth-inning strikeout of Carroll, Verlander tied Hall of Famer Phil Niekro for 12th on the all-time list. Both have 3,342 in their career. … This was the fourth time in major league history that both teams clinched a playoff berth in the same game. It was the first time to see teams from opposite leagues do so. The previous three were the Cardinals and Astros in 2001, the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers in 2020, and the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays earlier this month.

Looking Ahead

Verlander earned the win (13–8, 247th career win) while Kelly (12–8) took a tough loss. Abreu notched the save. The Astros (89–72) and Diamondbacks (84–77) meet again Sunday afternoon in their regular-season finales. Cristian Javier (9–5, 4.73 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Astros against left-handed Diamondbacks reliever Kyle Nelson (7–3, 3.88 ERA). First pitch will be at 12:10 pm Arizona time/2:10 Central.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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