This article is excerpted from Steve Gilbert’s D-backs Beat Newsletter. Click here to read the full newsletter. Subscribe to receive it regularly in your inbox.
PHILADELPHIA — Rather than board a plane immediately after Game 5, the D-backs departed for Philadelphia on Sunday morning, arriving in the late afternoon and heading straight to Citizens Bank Park, where they played a quick game. I did some training.
Pitchers pitched in the bullpen, batters took swings, and the team also practiced fielding.
The D-backs were given a police escort because the Eagles were playing a home game in the stadium next to the ballpark.
“Probably the best part of the day was having a police escort from the airport all the way to the field,” D-backs manager Tory Lovullo said. “I felt like we had that big-man energy and we just cut through it like butter and just went straight through it. It’s really great to be here and be back on the field and feel this cool air. It’s been great. It’s very cold outside right now. It’s not 105 degrees like it was in Phoenix. So it was nice to be able to get out on the field and do some quality work.”
The D-backs know they’ll be playing against a full, noisy stadium in Game 6, but there’s some benefit to having experienced that in the first two games of the series.
Game 6 starting pitcher Merrill Kelly, for example, said Saturday that having pitched there recently will help because he’s used to the mound and the views from it.
One of the reasons Lovullo wanted his team to practice even briefly on Sunday night was to get used to the field.
“This crowd is very loud,” Lovullo said of his expectations for Game 6. “Their top end is pretty much what we’ve heard in the Chase the last few days, but they’re intense for nine innings. They have a certain buzz, they have a certain level that’s maintained from pitch to pitch. So , this crowding is something we got used to over the two days we were here. And whether it’s loud for us or loud for them, we both need to hear it. We both have to deal with it. There might be a chorus of boos over the cheers, but I think our players are conditioned to that.”