By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia
Despite the Dodgers post-season sweep of the Diamondbacks in front of an indifferent, if not hostile, home game crowd – a few true fans say they’re already looking forward to next season.
Attendees at the third (and final) game of the National League Division series at Chase Field on Oct. 9 were treated to a patriotic display, with Old Glory unfurled into the shape of the contiguous United States and yet waving as Roger Cline intoned his rendition of the National Anthem.
Although facing a sweep at home, just five days following a hard-fought one-game wildcard win over the Rockies, local fans eagerly anticipated the first pitch, still hopeful their team could turn it around with an ace pitcher starting at home.
“I expect this to be the start of the sweep … a three -game sweep,” said Barry Knight of El Mirage, who said he has been a Diamondbacks fan for nine years since moving to the area from St. Louis. Even when the team loses, the games this year have kept his attention, he said.
“It’s like a heart attack. They wait for the last minute,” Mr. Knight said. “Hopefully they’re going to do that in these three games.”
Wally Laut from Sun City West said he comes out to the ballpark a half-dozen times each season, but was surprised to see so many L.A. fans in the stands for the playoff game, which reportedly sold out with 48,641 in attendance.
“I couldn’t believe how many people from California came over. It’s a pretty strong fan base,” Mr. Laut said.
In another less-welcomed patriotic display, the outfield benches brimmed with red and blue while the D-backs seemingly hoisted the white flag.
Though local fans at times mustered a half-hearted “Beat L.A.,” Dodgers fans seemed to own the space equally, booing Archie Bradley’s throws to first and cheering loudly for home runs off the bats of Cody Bellinger and Austin Barnes.
With another botched outing for the team’s ace, an evening of lackluster offensive output, which ensured pitching wouldn’t matter as the snakes scored only once against Yu Darvish, who threw 52 strikes on 74 pitches over seven innings and struck out seven to leave his team up 3-1.
By comparison, Zach Greinke – with four seasons remaining on his $260 million contract – threw 62 strikes out of 105 deliveries over the same five-inning stretch, with 29 pitches served up in the first inning alone. He finished the post-season with an ERA north of seven.
Mr. Laut offered not criticism, but sympathy.
“He just wasn’t hot tonight,” he said. “He’s good. Everyone has an off night.”
William Fisch, who has been a season ticket holder since moving to Phoenix in 2012, shared that sympathy and said the home team’s poor post-season showing doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm.
“It’s a lot better than it was previous years,” Mr. Fisch said. “I actually saw a winning team go to a post-season when I first came here. I think it’s really exciting. No matter what happened these last three games, it doesn’t matter. I mean, I am glad to have watched them make a post-season, to be honest.”
Despite Zach Greinke’s poor performance during two post-season starts, Mr. Fisch said he regular season output proves his value.
“Look at his record, he was seven and eight. And he was almost perfect at home,” he said.
Asked if he will purchase season tickets again in 2018, Mr. Fisch was unequivocal.
“Absolutely, yes. I will be,” he said.