Archive for the 'Diamondbacks' Category

Rockies Are Still Waiting; Red Sox Win Big

The Colorado Rockies knew they had a long wait before their next game after sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS. But as of tonight, they also have the maximum wait to discover whom they will play in the Fall Classic.

Shortest possible series in the NLCS, longest in the ALCS. The Boston Red Sox, at home in the friendly confines of Fenway Park, had no difficulty in evening their series with the Cleveland Indians and sending the series to the most exciting of all baseball playoff scenarios … a seventh game, where one is done and the other triumphs.

Behind seven strong innings from the Mr. October of pitchers, Curt Schilling, and an early grand slam by J.D. Drew, the Red Sox coasted to a 12-2 victory. Schilling has already added to his legend; now, will the Sox do it as well by polishing off the Tribe in game seven?

No one knows. That’s why game sevens are heaven for fans. And still, the Rockies wait.


Rockie Top

(Or is it Rocky Top?)

The Rockies are at the top of the National League on their way to attempting to gain the summit of the Majors in the coming World Series.

Twenty-one out of 22 games. That’s where the Colorado Rockies stand after their 6-4 win at Coors Field eliminated the Arizona Diamondbacks. If Arizona was thinking The Boston Red Sox did it, they were doing too much thinking and not enough playing. It is too bad that the error by Arizona first baseman Conor Jackson on Willy Taveras’ easy grounder splattered the fourth inning with the unearned runs that led to the victory, robbing the D-Backs of a chance at a Red Sox-like comeback, but there’s no way you can say the unearned runs mean the Rockies didn’t earn their World Series birth.

Series MVP Matt Holliday had the three-run blast that capped a six-run outburst in the fourth inning. The Rockies are definitely on Holliday and the guy’s clutch rep is growing by leaps and bounds.

The Oct. 24 start date of the WS gives the Rocks more than a week off, a record, and a huge rest-up advantage since the Indians and Red Sox give every indication of going seven in the ALCS. The Indians lead the ALCS 2-1 after last night’s victory.

The Rockies’ seven straight wins puts them alone in the company of the Big Red Machine of 1976 as the only teams to start a postseason in such a way.

It’s hard to remember that this invincible-looking team was just one strike from postseason elimination at the end of the season.

The D-Backs have nothing to hang their heads about, though their pain is understandable. “Once the sting of this subsides,” manager Bob Melvin said, “we’ll be able to reflect that we did have a great year.”

Chris Snyder made it close with a three-run homer in the eighth. In the ninth, with a runner at second and the tying run at the plate closer Manny Corpas induced Stephen Drew to pop out on a 3-0 pitch. “If that’s not the tying run,” Melvin said, “then I obviously don’t let him swing. But right there you know you’re going to get a fastball, you know you’re going to get a pitch to drive. He just came off it a hair and popped it up.”

Eric Byrnes made the final out on a check-swing grounder and the celebration was on.

The Boston Red Sox Did It

This of course does not mean tonight. They didn’t do it tonight in Cleveland, falling behind in the ALCS, 2 games to 1. “The Boston Red Sox did it” is of course the rallying cry of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Down 3-0 in Colorado, the D-Backs’ only source of hope is the history of the 2004 playoffs, when the Boston Red Sox kept their October run alive one game at a time after being down 3 games to none in the ALCS … to the Yankees of all teams. Not much hope there, right? Never done before and it surely couldn’t be accomplished against the guys in pinstripes. But all sports fans know the Crimson Stockings kept winning one game at a time until they completed the biggest series comeback in Major League postseason history, eliminated the Yanks, and moved on to the World Series.

Which they swept in 4 against St. Louis.

After they were down 3-0 they never lost again, winning 8 consecutive games to sweep to the title.

Arizona is surely invoking the Boston miracle. I think they are telling themselves, Tonight we start an 8-game winning streak. The Boston Red Sox did it.

Drew’s Dumb Play, Melvin’s Mistake, and Matsui’s McRae Try

Second baseman Kazuo Matsui tried to get the umps to invoke the Hal McRae Rule again last night in game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

This time it was a clean slide and the umps got it right again. Come on, Matsui, be happy with what you got. The infielder was motioning for the undeserved call even before the play was over. So the bottles stayed in the stands.

CO beat AZ again for a 2-0 lead in the series, and the D-Backs are hard-pressed, having lost both games at home.

Though Hal McCrae failed to be invoked again, there was a repeat of a Diamondback bonehead play, with a key AZ runner being tagged out just past second base for the second time in as many games.

The Rockies were two outs away from completing a 2-1 victory when their closer, Manny Corpas, hit Chris Young with a 1-2 pitch. Astounding transgression to give AZ life where there was none. Stephen Drew singled Young to third, and Eric Byrnes tied the game with a grounder to Matsui.

Matsui pulled Troy Tulowitzki off second base with a bad throw and the ump rightly refused to give the “vicinity” courtesy call. Drew left the bag thinking he was out, even though the ump had clearly signaled “safe.” He was tagged, shortening the D-Backs threat and forcing them into extra innings.

There is some controversy about how long Melton left Jose Valverde in. The Rockies won 3-2 in 11 innings when Valverde walked Willy Taveras with the bases loaded and two outs. It was the winning run. “You’ve got to leave him in there until he gives up a run,” Melvin said. “He’s our closer. You’ve got to at least go with your best until he gives up a run.”

Uh … even if that run can beat you? He wasn’t pitching well. You take a pitcher out of the game when that happens.

But the bonehead play at second, in my mind, looms larger. Melvin’s error is a calculated managerial decision; Drew’s is a space-cadet episode in the biggest game of his life. You can argue a manager’s rationale (and I do disagree with Melvin), but you can’t argue a stupid play. Drew wandering away was definitely that.

Four Teams Still Playing Are Good for Baseball

Rockies: Never
Diamondbacks: Once in franchise history
Red Sox: Once since 1920
Indians: Last time in 1948

These are the four have-not teams playing in the two League Championship Series with info on their World Series championships. It’s refreshing. Everybody loves an underdog (except maybe some Yankees fans). Red Sox, money wise, have the advantage. But we still love them … after all, it hasn’t been that long since they broke the curse of the Bambino.

If you really favor underdogs, you have to root for Colorado, both for the way they got to where they are and, mostly, because they’re the only team of the four without a title.

As for me, I’m rooting for two seven-game series, followed by a seven-game World Series. And I’ll be happy no matter who wins.

Montero, What Were You Thinking?

Thrown Out at Second Base in the Ninth With Your Team Down 4

Miguel Montero, you just made history. With your team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, down 5-1 with two out in the bottom of the ninth of the first game of the NLCS, you singled to left. Then, inexplicably, with the base totally meaningless, you tried to stretch your hit to a double and Matt Holliday threw you out. You’re a catcher! And you’re trying to stretch down 4!

I know, you reached second, but you never possessed the bag before you overslid it and were tagged out by second baseman Kaz Matsui. So it’s just a single in the box score.

And in the write-ups, talk-ups, and minds of every D-Back fan … heck, every baseball fan … it was one dumb play. And you did it in the Championship Series. At least if you never do anything else in your career, you will be remembered.

Umps get it right; “Hal McRae Rule” Appears in NLCS

In the seventh inning of game 1 of the NLCS in the desert, Rockies starting pitcher Jeff Francis gave up a leadoff double then hit Justin Upton with a pitch. When Augie Ojeda grounded to third baseman Garrett Atkins, Upton was forced at second and went into a roll block with an arm bar that prevented second baseman Kazuo Matsui from making a throw.

Second base umpire Larry Vanover called interference on Upton and Ojeda was out. Major League Baseball banned this in 1978 after Kansas City Royals designated hitter Hal McRae used the tactic on New York Yankees second baseman Willie Randolph in the 1977 American League Championship Series.

This time the umps got it right. Even if discouraged Arizona fans strongly disagreed and pelted the field with debris causing a temporary desertion of the field by Colorado players at the behest of manager Clint Hurdle.

They were right! CO beat AZ, 5-1. And we get to mention an obscure rule. Now that’s good baseball.