ARLINGTON, Texas — Paul Sewald finds himself in a familiar situation. While he hasn’t pitched in a World Series or blown a save in one as he did Friday night, he experienced a similar disappointment in last season’s Game 1.
During the American League Division Series against the Astros, Sewald hit Houston’s nine-hole hitter with a pitch before giving up a single two batters later. He left the mound without completing the inning, and the next hitter hit a walk-off home run off Robbie Ray.
However, Sewald is now determined to redeem himself. In a thrilling 18-inning showdown between the Mariners and Astros, Sewald pitched two flawless innings, striking out four. He believes he can replicate that success in the current World Series.
“I feel like I’ve been performing better this postseason compared to last,” Sewald said confidently. “I’ve learned to handle pressure situations better.”
Meanwhile, in the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse, Sewald and Miguel Castro, who gave up the walk-off home run in the 11th inning, received a message of support. Reliever Kyle Nelson offered his encouragement, acknowledging that Sewald is an exceptional pitcher who has his own way of handling tough moments.
Manager Torey Lovullo emphasized that different players require different approaches. Some need a pat on the butt, some a kick, and others prefer not to discuss it. Lovullo chose a combination of support and reassurance for Sewald and Castro.
“I only said two words to Paul Sewald,” Lovullo revealed. “‘You’re still good. We’re all good. Don’t you worry.’ With Miguel Castro, I patted him on the butt and simply said, ‘Hey, man, we’ll get them tomorrow.’”
The Diamondbacks have shown remarkable resilience throughout this postseason. They’ve developed a reputation for quickly forgetting setbacks and bouncing back with strong performances.
For instance, in the first game of the postseason against the Brewers, they fell behind 3-0 but responded with back-to-back home runs from Corbin Carroll and Ketel Marte. From there, they never looked back. In the following game, they were down 2-0 early on but rallied in the middle innings. They navigated through adversity in a dominant division series and repeated the feat against the Phillies, overcoming a 2-0 series deficit to reach the World Series. Three of their four wins in that series involved comebacks.
Looking ahead to Game 2, there’s a renewed sense of optimism. Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly, who possesses a 2.65 ERA in three postseason starts, is expected to give the team a strong performance. His five innings of one-run ball in Game 6 of the NLCS played a crucial role in the Diamondbacks winning two games in Philadelphia. Lovullo even indicated that Kelly could receive an extended opportunity in Game 2.
“When Merrill gets rolling and the line is moving in the right direction, he can efficiently retire batters in 9-12 pitches per inning,” Lovullo emphasized. “We saw glimpses of this in Game 6. He felt good, and with a low pitch count and the right circumstances, I will definitely give him the chance to go further.”
Ultimately, the Diamondbacks still possess a tantalizing opportunity in front of them.
“Our goal is to split the series,” Sewald said. “If you had told me before the series started that winning one of two here would make us feel good, I would’ve taken it. We still have a chance to achieve that.”
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Lovullo: ‘We’re all good’ as DBacks aim for quick turnaround in Game 2
David Rodriguez brings the excitement of Major League Baseball to readers. With a deep appreciation for America’s pastime, he covers the latest MLB news, scores, and player achievements, keeping fans up to date with their favorite teams and players.