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As we saw in the ALCS, Game 7 can bring some wild and crazy things, especially early in games. However, things should be a little more tame in the first inning of Game 7 of the NLCS. While the Phillies have scored in the first inning three times in the first six games of this series, the Diamondbacks have yet to score a first-inning run in the NLCS. An explosion of runs in the first inning of Game 7 would be a little out of character for this series. With a pitching matchup between Brandon Pfaadt and Ranger Suarez, both lineups should stay quiet in the first inning, possibly even longer.
Pfaadt is certainly a question mark after going 3-9 with a 5.72 ERA during the regular season. The rookie also allowed a run in the first inning when he faced the Brewers in the Wild Card Round. But he’s been excellent ever since. Pfaadt tossed 4.1 scoreless innings against the Dodgers during the NLDS and 5.2 scoreless innings against the Phillies in Game 3. Across those 10 innings, Pfaadt has yielded just four hits and no walks, so he’s been locked in lately. Also, despite his poor numbers overall, the rookie posted a 3.00 ERA in the first inning during the regular season.
As long as the pressure of Game 7 isn’t too much for him, which hasn’t been a problem in the postseason thus far, Pfaadt is a good bet to remain in top form and pitch a scoreless first inning against the Phillies in Game 7.
On the other side, Suarez only has to do what every other Philadelphia starter has done in this series, which is keep the D’Backs from scoring in the first inning. In fact, the Diamondbacks have scored in the first inning just twice in their 11 playoff games. Arizona has exploded for a couple of huge first innings, but the D’Backs have shown no signs of doing that in this series. Despite a modest 4.91 ERA in the first inning during the regular season, Suarez has been trustworthy in the postseason. The lefty has made three starts and only allowed one run on seven hits over 14 innings of work. Granted, he hasn’t been asked to go deep in games, but he’s also been rock-solid in the first inning.
The only concern is that Ketel Marte and Christian Walker, who he’s likely to face in the first inning, are a combined 13 for 34 (.382) with five extra-base hits in their career against Suarez. However, those two haven’t helped the D’Backs score first-inning runs in this series previously, so don't expect that to change in Game 7.
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Bryan Zarpentine is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and has been working as a freelance writer and editor since 2010. During that time, he has contributed to countless sites while covering baseball, soccer, the NFL, college football, and college basketball.More info on Bryan Zarpentine
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