The Diamondbacks’ Five Most Memorable Games

Number 1November 4, 2001: That Bloopin’ Hit

One of the most memorable games in World Series history capped the Diamondbacks’ one and only championship in just their third year of existence, the fastest any expansion team has ever won it all. And it came not with a bang, but with a weakly poked bloop by Luis Gonzalez which nestled in behind second base and a drawn-in New York Yankee infield to score the winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Both starters—Curt Schilling for Arizona, Roger Clemens for the Yankees—dueled through the seventh inning, with Clemens lifted after 6.1 innings, allowing just a run and striking out 10. Schilling held even with Clemens until he served up a solo homer to Alfonso Soriano in the eighth, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Randy Johnson, having thrown seven innings just the night before, came on in relief to record the final out of the eighth and threw a scoreless ninth to keep the Diamondbacks to within a run, but the comeback challenge was daunting as Mariano Rivera, with his impeccable postseason resume, came on in the bottom of the eighth with the goal of shutting down the D-Backs for the final six outs. He only got four of them.

Mark Grace led off the bottom of the ninth with a single; Rivera fielded a bunt from the next batter, Damian Miller, but his throw to force out the lead runner at second went wild into center field. Two batters later, Tony Womack doubled to bring home the tying run, Craig Counsell was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out—forcing the infield to play in—and Gonzalez finished the historic comeback with one of baseball’s most famous bloop hits to ice the series in the desert before 50,000 delirious fans.

Number 2May 18, 2004: The Perfect Unit

In the midst of, easily, the Diamondbacks worst season (51-111), came one of their greatest moments. Randy Johnson, now 40 years of age, took the mound in Atlanta against the Braves before 23,000 fans and was locked in from start to finish, retiring all 27 Atlanta hitters he faced—13 of them by strikeout—to become the oldest player in major league history to throw a perfect game. Johnson was rarely challenged; the closest the Braves came to a hit occurred in the sixth inning when the Atlanta pitcher, Mike Hampton, was retired by a half step at first base on a slow grounder to shortstop Alex Cintron. By the ninth inning, Johnson was firing away as if it was the first; his 117th and final pitch of the night was a 98-MPH fastball that struck out Eddie Perez.

Number 3October 24, 2023: This One’s For You, Mad Dog

The 2023 Diamondbacks backed into the playoffs, losing their last four games of the regular season and barely qualifying for October with the low (#6) NL seed and the worst record (84-78) of all 12 MLB postseason participants. But as many underdog teams had done in the wild card era, the DBacks got hot at the right time; they swept NL Central champion Milwaukee in the Wild Card Series, then stunningly took apart the 100-win Los Angeles Dodgers in three straight at the NLDS. 

Moving on to the NLCS against the defending NL champion Phillies, Arizona’s momentum finally appeared to wane—and they faced the unenviable task of having to win both Games Six and Seven before raucous, hostile Philadelphia crowds to advance. The Diamondbacks’ slim outlook was reflected by SiriusXM sports talk icon Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who was so convinced that the DBacks had no chance, he vowed to “retire on the spot” if they advanced. 

After taking Game Six with ease, 5-1, Arizona notched a quick first-inning run in the winner-take-all—but fell behind 2-1 after four innings as rookie starter Brandon Pfaadt did his best to keep it close. In that sense, he did his job; the Diamondbacks scored twice in the fifth and once more in the seventh, using time-worn—and all-but-forgotten—small ball tactics such as seeing-eye hits, sacrifice bunts and stolen bases. Meanwhile, five Arizona relievers clamped down on the power-laden Phillies, who pressed and swung wildly at unhittable pitches the rest of the way. Arizona’s 4-2 win secured their second NL pennant, with celebrating players derisively chanting “Mad Dog!” afterward as Russo had to eat his words—all while reneging on his promise to quit.

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Number 4

September 24, 1999: Sophomore Success

Wrapping up a remarkable turnaround in just their second season, the Diamondbacks clinched the NL West with an 11-3 rout of the Giants at San Francisco, on their way to a 100-win season a year after losing 97. The Diamondbacks jumped all over Giant starter Shawn Estes, scoring four in the first, two in the third and two more in the fifth off solo shots from Kelly Stinnett and Tony Womack. Johnson started the game and overcame a first-inning, three-run blast by Ellis Burks to go the distance, striking out 11 while walking none. Arizona’s clincher came during the Giants’ last-ever homestand at Candlestick Park.

Number 5

May 8, 2001: Tying the Record—Or Maybe Not

After the perfect game, Johnson’s second biggest achievement with the Diamondbacks took place indoors at Bank One Ballpark when he struck out 20 Cincinnati Reds (and walked none) to tie a major league record—but the game went into extra innings, and because Johnson’s nine innings of brilliance wasn’t a complete game, it doesn’t count in the record book per MLB rules. Johnson allowed just a run on three hits, but Cincinnati starter Chris Reitsma largely matched him inning for inning if not K for K (he struck out only two in eight innings of work).

Johnson himself initiated the small rally that would produce the Diamondbacks’ lone run in regulation with a leadoff single; the team’s best chance to win came in the eighth with runners at second and third and two outs, but Reggie Sanders flied out to end the threat. Johnson, who retired eight of the last nine batters he faced, left after nine innings—and the Diamondback bullpen got into trouble in the 11th by allowing two runs on two walks and an error, but the Diamondbacks countered with three in the bottom half of the frame, capped by a bases-loaded walk to Matt Williams to win the game, 4-3.


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