D'Backs and Rockies Will Play in the NLCS [J. Mark English]
First, we hear from Devin Jessup of the blog Out in the Desert -
It is a great day to be a Diamondbacks fan. Today, our team went into the best known stadium in all of the NL, in front of a loud crowd of Cubs fans, against a team with their backs against the wall. It is a hostile environment for visiting teams. It is a situation where many teams have become complacent, stumbled and fallen. It was precisely the situation where so many said the inexperience of our young team would become a glaring, fatal flaw.
Today, our team went out and did what they did best. They proved everyone wrong. Again. Everyone except for those of us who have been following this team all along, and know just what they’re capable of.
Credit Chris Young, who did just what we’ve seen him do nine times this season, lead off the game with a home run. No line, no waiting, Young took the first pitch he saw and dropped it into the left field bleachers. At that point, the Cubs had to worry, maybe the legendary stature of their home park wasn’t going to be enough to cow the Diamondbacks.
...Credit Bob Melvin, who has managed this team with a delicate hand, particularly in comparison to Lou Pinella’s style. There’s not much you can point at that Melvin did in this series, and that’s probably a good thing. While Pinella’s decision to pull Zambrano for a Game Four that won’t happen will be questioned for weeks to come, little or nothing will be said about Melvin’s contributions. Honestly, in a series like this, that’s a good thing.
I don’t know what it is about the playoffs, but October always seems to produce the strangest heroes. Not strange in a sense of “odd,” “weird,” or anything of the like, but strange as in “unexpected.” First, it was Jamey Carroll driving in the run to put the Rockies in the playoffs. Tonight, the hero was Jeff Baker, who came up with a two-out single in the eighth inning that gave the Rockies a 2-1 lead before Manny Corpas iced it in the ninth.
I guess the whole point of this is that you never know who’s going to be the hero when October comes around. Matt Holliday went 0-for-4 in Game 3. After coming up with key homers in both of the first two games, Matt was absent in this one. Todd Helton picked up a triple in his first postseason at bat, but he was 0-for-11 the rest of the series. Troy Tulowitzki, Garrett Atkins, and Brad Hawpe were also quiet in the NLDS.
Of course, they wound up being better than the Phillies’ big bats. If the Rockies’ big hitters were quiet, the Phillies’ big hitters were virtually nonexistent. That’s another thing about October: You can throw out basically everything that happens in the regular season. You see, in the regular season, the Phillies and Rockies were both teams built on offense, offense, offense, with just enough pitching to get by. Everybody just assumed that that’s the way it would work in the postseason, too. Instead, the Rockies’ formula was pitching, pitching, pitching, and just enough offense to get by. There was one slugfest in the series, the 10-5 smackdown the Rockies put on the Phils in Game 2, but that was it.
In a sense, the Phillies offense didn’t go completely silent; they hit five homers in the three-game series. The only problem for them was that all five of the homers came with nobody on base, and they accounted for five of the eight runs the Phillies scored in the series. That’s a credit to the Rockies’ pitchers, the real heroes of this series. Sure, they gave up a few longballs here and there, but otherwise they shut down the Phillies and kept them from putting runs on the scoreboard. Generally, pitchers who give up a lot of home runs aren’t going to be that great, but if you can keep runners off the bases otherwise, you can deal with giving up a home run every now and then. That was the difference between the Phillies and the Rockies in this series. In terms of momentum, Kaz Matsui did more damage with his one homer, a grand slam in the fourth inning of Game 2, than the Phillies did with their five homers.
So now it’s on to the NLCS for the first time in team history and the Diamondbacks again. Game 1 is Thursday. This should be good.
This will be probably one of the worst NLCS match-ups that I can remember in my life time. No one outside of the cities of Denver and Phoenix will give this NLCS much of a glance. After all, who is going to stay up late to watch these games? Think about this as well, both of these teams did not even exist prior to 1993. For half of my life, these teams were only dreams. The ratings for this series will be terrible, and is it any wonder why.
For the sake of baseball fans all around the country, lets go Yanks tomorrow night. I'd much rather see the Yanks take on the Red Sox then the Tribe. At least that series will keep me watching.