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Old 09-26-2017, 05:23 AM
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Default Diamondbacks Clinch Home Wildcard Game
In a nondescript moment during the top of the fourth inning on Sunday, the Diamondbacks officially clinched a wild-card spot. A few savvy fans near the home dugout let out a small cheer, secure in their knowledge that a loss halfway across the country meant a celebration for the Diamondbacks.

It was some 2 1/2 hours later, after J.D. Martinez (who else?) lined the walk-off hit in a 3-2 win over the Miami Marlins, before the party began. The Diamondbacks were going to the postseason.

In a short speech to his players inside a rowdy clubhouse, manager Torey Lovullo let out some well-received expletives. Players and coaches dumped alcohol on each other until their eyes burned. They took silly selfies and kept saying the same things. They kept talking about how they expect more of these.

“I know for a fact they only get bigger,” Martinez said. “There are more bottles. More beer. More cameras. More people. This is just the beginning. I want these guys to know that. There’s a lot more … ”

Martinez was cut off mid-sentence. A coach started emptying a champagne bottle on his head.

Though losses by the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers officially gave the Diamondbacks a wild-card spot early in the afternoon, their win over the Marlins assured them of home-field advantage in the do-or-die game on Oct. 4.
They trailed for most of the afternoon. It was 2-0 when Chris Herrmann laced a solo homer to right field in the fifth. Daniel Descalso shot a run-scoring single to center to tie it in the eighth. Then in the ninth, it was Martinez, their key midseason acquisition, who, with the bases loaded and two out, roped the game-winning single to deep left.

It was a fitting way for the game to end.
“I don’t know where we’d be without him, along with a lot of other guys,” General Manager Mike Hazen said of Martinez, who has hit .294 with an incredible 27 homers in his 57 games with the Diamondbacks. “But since he’s joined the club, I think we’ve taken a definite step up.”

Hazen, in his first year on the job, inherited a team that severely underperformed a year ago and opted to keep it together for one last hurrah. The organization seemed to be preparing for the possibility of a rebuild. Instead, a group of players that had been together for years, many of whom rose through the minors together, finally tasted winning.

“I think there’s something special,” center fielder A.J. Pollock said, “when you come up in the minor league with some guys, you go through the grind, go through a couple of seasons of really getting your butts kicked, and then being able to appreciate a season like this.”

In Pollock’s first five seasons in the majors, the Diamondbacks had never won more than 81 games. They went just 69-93 a year ago. They’re 90-66 after Sunday with six games still to play.

“The reason we kept the team together in the offseason was because we wanted to give these guys a chance to redeem what happened last season,” Hazen said. “It came together pretty quickly.”

They have an MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt, a rotation led by Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray that ranks among the best in the league and a roster of prime-age players blended with veterans, all of whom seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company.

“This is just a fun group,” third baseman Jake Lamb said. “It’s fun showing up to the field every day. It’s fun hanging out postgame every day. It’s really special what we’ve got going here.”

The Diamondbacks pulled out all the stops for the celebration. Outfielder David Peralta danced around the clubhouse with a boom box above his head. Lefty Patrick Corbin did an interview with three beers in his arms. Reliever Archie Bradley downed beers with abandon, flecks of champagne beading on his beard.

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