NLCS Game 7: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

So this is what the World Series will hoist. One team who got there with a bang — or several. One team who got there with whispers, almost, belying the pre-strike warning of the reptile that gives them their name.

It's not that the Diamondbacks really intended to get to the World Series on the quiet side. But if the Rangers bludgeoned their way to the Series with back-to-back demolitions of the Astros in Houston, the Diamondbacks pried their way to the Series with four wins that could be called cool, calm, collected by comparison.

"We were silent, and we made damage," said their shortstop Geraldo Perdomo, after the Snakes more or less nudged the Phillies home for the winter with a 4-2 National League Championship Series Game 7 win. "Be happy and enjoy what you do. That's all. That was the message."

Go ahead. Cue that ancient Bobby McFerrin hit. Don't worry. Be happy. It wouldn't be the worst theme song you could attach to a pennant winner.

The biggest lead by which the Diamondbacks beat the Phillies this set was a four-game margin in Game 6 in Philadelphia. They won the National League pennant Tuesday night with a win in which it was harder to determine which was more profound, a small pack of squandered Phillies chances or a thick enough pack of quiet Diamondbacks opportunity seizings.

It was almost as though the smiling Snakes snuck their way to the World Series in the end. From their first Game 7 run scoring on a soft grounder the Phillies couldn't turn into an inning-ending double play in the first to three of the least noisy fly-outs finisher Paul Sewald got the Phillies to hit to end it.

Come to think of it, it was as though the underestimated Arizona gang wasn't even fazed when Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm hit Diamondbacks starter Brandon Pfaadt's first pitch of the second inning into the left center field seats. Pfaadt certainly wasn't. He got second baseman Bryson Stott to fly out to the center field track, then struck catcher J.T. Realmuto and right fielder Nick Castellanos out swinging to prove it.

Pfaadt only looked shaky two innings later, when Bohm wrung him for a one-out walk, and Stott doubled him home to give the Phillies what proved a very short-lived 2-1 lead. Realmuto followed with a line single to left sending Stott to third which brought Castellanos to the plate.

The guy who began looking like Mr. October during the Phillies's division series dispatch of the Braves and continued when he homered during his first plate appearance of this NLCS had gone 0-for-21 entering this plate appearance. Pfaadt struck him out swinging. Then the right-hander shook off a four-pitch walk to left fielder Brandon Marsh to strike spaghetti-bat center field sweeper Johan Rojas out on three pitches.

And again the Diamondbacks didn't resemble a team of no-names whose postseason days were going to be numbered by Philadelphia's comparative star power.

Third baseman Emmanuel Rivera started unfurling that evidence with a leadoff line single up the pipe in the top of the fifth. Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo bunted him to second, perhaps ill-advised considering the wasted out and second baseman Ketel Marte's swinging strikeout to follow.

Enter Corbin Carroll, the rookie about whom it's very fair to say the Diamondbacks world revolves these days. After scoring that first run in the first, and in the middle of a 3-for-4 night, Carroll shot a base hit into center to send Rivera home to re-tie the game and push Phillies starter Ranger Suárez out of it.

Then catcher Gabriel Moreno greeted reliever Jeff Hoffman with a base hit after Carroll stole second, enabling the rook to be run number three before Moreno was caught trying to stretch to second. Meanwhile, Carroll also spent his evening tying a postseason rookie record for hits in a winner-take-all contest.

Most teams run out of an inning when they could do more damage might go into mourning at that point. Not these Diamondbacks. Their reliever Joe (Be Fruitful and) Mantiply shook off Kyle Schwarber's bottom of the fifth-opening double to get Phillies shortstop Trea Turner to ground out to third and Bryce Harper, the dangerous convert to first base, to fly out to the track in left.

That was enough to prompt Snakes manager Torey Lovullo to get Mantiply the hell out of there and bring Ryan Thompson in to lure Bohm into a pop out Marte caught at the back of the infield for the side.

You could almost hear the still-underestimated Diamondbacks — who swept their way to this set in the first place by pushing the Brewers out of the wild card series and the oh-so-superior Dodgers out of a division series — thinking, if not whispering, "We do this kind of stuff to them all through the pictures."

Don't worry. Be happy.

Two innings later, the Snakes delivered what proved to have been one of the least dramatic knockout punches of the entire postseason. After José Alvarado relieved Hoffman for the Phillies with one out, Perdomo singled to left and Marte doubled him to third — making Marte owner of the longest postseason-career-opening hitting streak at sixteen.

Up stepped Carroll. Proving he could do things the quiet way as well as any other way, he lofted a sacrifice fly to left for the fourth Diamondbacks run and the final run of the game. Don't worry. Be happy.

Then came Zack Wheeler, the Phillies's Game 5 starter who pitched like an ace when they needed it most to take a 3-2 NLCS lead, to pitch an inning and a third's spotless relief. During which Harper lost the grandest opportunity to overthrow the Diamondbacks for good when he batted in the bottom of the seventh.

Cristian Pache pinch hit for Rojas with one out and walked off Diamondbacks reliever Andrew Saalfrank. Schwarber worked out a full count walk. Exit Saalfrank, enter Kevin Ginkel for the Snakes, and Turner flied out to bring Harper to the plate. The guy who sent the Phillies to the World Series last year with that eighth-inning homer in the mud hit one out to center field this time, but with not enough to avoid landing in center fielder Alek Thomas's glove for the side.

"Just missed it," Harper lamented postgame. "Not being able to come through in that moment, just devastation for me. I feel like I let my team down and let the city of Philadelphia down, as well. That's a moment I feel like I need to come through."

He was hardly alone. These Phillies who'd bombed the Diamondbacks in a 10-0 Game 2 blowout scored a grand total of four runs in three of their NLCS losses and went 1-for-7 with men in scoring position in Game 7 alone.

"I would say frustrated is the correct word," said Castellanos, maybe slightly less for himself than for his team. "Just because the potential of this team is so much greater than going home before the World Series. Last year, when we lost Game 6, there was a lot of, 'All right, we got here. Now we can build off that.' Knowing how we feel about this team and coming up short from the year previous, it's a disgusting feeling, honestly."

When pinch hitter Jake Cave flied out to right against Sewald to end Game 7, the Phillies may have been more voluminous in their self-criticisms than the Diamondbacks were celebrating their first pennant since 2001. And the clubhouse celebration has been described politely as mayhem, from drenching general manager Mike Hazen to first baseman Christian Walker passing out the cigars.

Don't worry. Be happy.

It doesn't mean you have to stay silent in the end. It also doesn't mean the Snakes will count themselves out no matter how monstrous the Rangers might look. Maybe they figure that, if they could finally dismantle the big bad Phillie phloggers there's no reason to fear the Texas wrecking crew. Yet.

"We were coming here to play our best baseball," Lovullo said postgame about his and his team's pre-game thinking, "and that's been the messaging, and it's been very consistent throughout the course of the year. Today is going to be our finest hour, and I just wanted to make sure that they knew that's how I felt."

"The Brewers were supposed to beat us," Thompson said. "The Dodgers were supposed to beat us. The Phillies were supposed to beat us. They're gonna say that the Rangers are supposed to beat us, too. We'll see how it goes." He could afford to be sanguine, since the Rays released him earlier this season but the Diamondbacks took a flyer and he rewarded them by becoming one of their key bullpen bulls.

And Lovullo could afford to be just a little self-congratulatory. Knowing that famed sports talking head Chris (Mad Dog) Russo swore to retire from radio if the Diamondbacks got to the World Series, Lovullo couldn't resist. "I would love to see him quit if we won today," the manager said before Game 7 began. "There's nothing better than a wise guy New Yorker saying something and then having to chomp on those words."

Except maybe a manager who shepherds the guys the world doubted to baseball's biggest dance. Or, a team that finally doesn't let the insane asylum known as a Citizen's Bank Park crowd intimidate them out. Just don't ask the Snakes to explain how they pulled it off. "I don't even know if there is an explanation," Carroll said. "It's just magic."

But you might ask Harper. "Watching them prior to this series, I don't think anything scared that team," he said graciously. "I don't think they had any doubts in their minds of coming back here and playing in Philadelphia. I don't think that team is scared of any situation or any spot."

Don't worry. Be happy.

If that's what got the Diamondbacks to the forthcoming World Series, don't knock it. Baseball has enough too-serious-for-their-own-good teams as it is. Just try to picture most of this postseason's vanquished (the Phillies aren't exactly a gang of mopes, after all) approaching things that Diamondbacks way. Not to mention a lot of the teams who couldn't make the postseason in the first place.

They'd sooner toast each other with castor oil martinis than be caught thinking, Don't worry. Be happy. And where are those guys now?

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