The Arizona Diamondbacks are heading to the National League Division Series.
The Diamondbacks held on to beat the Colorado Rockies 11-8 in a heart-stopping matchup in Phoenix on Wednesday night to win the National League Wild Card game. Former Cy Young Award winner Zack Grienke started for the Diamondbacks against Colorado's Jon Gray, but both pitchers combined for only five innings pitched in a crazy contest that saw Arizona jump out to a six-run lead early on before the Rockies closed the deficit to one on two occasions in the late innings.
A career .098 hitter coming into the game, Arizona reliever Archie Bradley laced his first career extra-base hit, a two-run triple, into the left-center gap off Rockies All-Star Pat Neshek to give the D-backs an 8-5 lead in the seventh inning.
But Bradley went out to the mound in the eighth and gave up back-to-back solo home runs to Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story. He later allowed a two-out double to Pat Valaika to put the tying run at second base before settling down and inducing a flyout from Jonathan Lucroy, who'd reach base in his previous three plate appearances, to end the threat.
The Snakes then added three insurance runs in the bottom of the frame before Colorado eked out one in the ninth against Fernando Rodney, who closed it down to ensure the Diamondbacks advanced to the National League Division Series for the first time since 2011.
Arizona had opened up a six-run lead by the third inning by battering Gray, who didn't get out of the second inning against Arizona's vaunted lineup. The D-backs plated three runs against Gray before the 25-year-old recorded an out, thanks to a monstrous three-run homer from Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
Gray escaped the opening frame without further damage, but after Diamondbacks shortstop Ketel Marte tripled in the second inning to bring home David Peralta, Rockies manager Bud Black pulled Gray with Colorado down 4-0 after four outs. A two-run shot from Daniel Descalso in the third inning extended Arizona's lead to six runs.
That would normally be more than enough to work with for Greinke, but Arizona's ace completely fell apart in the fourth. The Rockies drove in runs on four consecutive at-bats, with pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista's line-drive single up the middle making it 6-4 to signal the end for Greinke. It was the shortest postseason start of his career.
However, the Snakes clung to the lead behind No. 2 starter Robbie Ray, who made his first relief appearance since 2014 and hurled 2.1 innings of one-run ball. The final innings certainly weren't without their drama, but Arizona led throughout it all to survive.
Major League Baseball expanded to two Wild Card teams in each league in 2012, prompting the creation of the one-game Wild Card playoff for the right to play in the Division Series. Arizona will now move on to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.