10/13/07 4:54 AM ET
D-backs in 0-2 hole after 11-inning loss
Byrnes' grounder ties it in ninth, but Valverde loses command
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
A team in desperate need of a win. A team desperately trying to recapture the mojo that helped propel it through a magical regular season, which has now disappeared and left Arizona facing a 2-0 deficit.
That's the situation the D-backs find themselves in after a 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Rockies in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd at Chase Field.
"I guess we've got to win it in six now, huh?" third baseman Mark Reynolds said with a wry smile. "We're never down in this clubhouse. We're always confident. We just made the task a little harder on ourselves by losing two here."
If history is a judge, the road the D-backs face is going to be difficult. Since 1985 -- when the LCS switched to a best-of-seven format -- 17 teams have fallen behind 0-2. Only three of those teams came back to win the series: the Cardinals and Royals in 1985 and the Red Sox in 2004.
It's worth noting that those three teams all lost the first two games on the road, while the D-backs dropped them at home and now have to go to Colorado for Games 3 and 4 and what they hope will be a Game 5.
"We're going to stay optimistic," outfielder Eric Byrnes said. "We have to go to their place, and I think the goal is probably to take two out of three and bring it back here. Hopefully we bring this thing back home."
They won't be able to do that unless they start bringing some runners home. Arizona left 11 on the basepaths, four of them in scoring position, while outhitting the Rockies, 9-7, on the night.
"We haven't had a whole lot of timely hits," Byrnes said. "We've struggled with runners in scoring position, and I've been one of the culprits of that."
What made the defeat particularly difficult for the D-backs to swallow was that they had rallied to tie the game in a wild bottom of the ninth against Colorado closer Manny Corpas.
With one out in the inning, Corpas hit Chris Young with a pitch, and Stephen Drew followed with a single to right-center that moved Young to third.
Byrnes then hit a grounder to second, and Kazuo Matsui's flip to Troy Tulowitzki pulled the shortstop off the bag, which allowed Young to score the tying run and send the game into extra innings.
Drew did not realize that second-base umpire Tom Hallion had called him safe and began jogging towards the dugout before being tagged out. That deprived the D-backs of having another runner in scoring position.
"I went in hard trying to break up the double play, and it's one of those things where I look back and I don't see [any] call because he already called it," said Drew, who thought that Tulowitzki had touched the base. "And by the time I started jogging in and saw [third-base coach Chip Hale], they had already thrown the ball. It's just tough luck."
And the good luck the Rockies had on that play is the same kind of good fortune the D-backs had working in their favor as they racked up an NL-leading 90 regular-season wins.
The Rockies eventually won the game in the 11th, when closer Jose Valverde seemed to run out of gas in his second inning of work. The right-hander wound up walking three in the inning, the final of which forced in what proved to be the game-winner.
"I wasn't tired," said Valverde, who led the Majors with 47 regular-season saves. "I felt good. I felt as good as I had all year. I tried to throw my sinker, and it wasn't going in. I was just trying to get by. I felt so good."
D-backs manager Bob Melvin said he did not second-guess himself for leaving Valverde in to throw 42 pitches.
Rally caps: 0-2 deficit not insurmountable
|In the postseason history of Major League Baseball, 66 teams have faced an 0-2 deficit in a best-of-seven series, with only 13 of those clubs coming back to win the series.|
|2004 ALCS||Red Sox||Yankees||7|
|1986 WS||Mets||Red Sox||7|
|1985 ALCS||Royals||Blue Jays||7|
"You gotta keep him in there," Melvin said. "He's the closer. And once he gives up a run, you go get him. You gotta at least go with your best until they get a run. He's pitched through a lot of jams over the course of a season. We've seen him go out there in that fashion and get out of it. Until he gives up a run, it's his game."
The D-backs got a solid start from Doug Davis, while their offense struggled to cash in on the plethora of opportunities they had against Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez (1-0).
Colorado grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second when Todd Helton reached to lead off the inning on an error by Reynolds. Two outs and a single later, Yorvit Torrealba blooped a cut fastball to right that hit the foul line for an RBI single.
Davis (1-1) helped his own cause in the third when he led things off with a double and came around to score when Young followed with a single to center.
Davis walked four batters on the night, but none hurt like the leadoff pass he gave Willy Taveras in the fifth. Taveras went to second on a Matsui single, advanced to third on Matt Holliday's flyout and then scored on Helton's sacrifice fly to give the Rockies a 2-1 advantage.
Taveras also proved to be a thorn in the D-backs' side on defense, robbing Tony Clark of what appeared to be at least a game-tying double to center field with two outs in the seventh.
The D-backs bullpen kept things close, and an LCS record was set in the process when reliever Tony Pena fanned the side on 10 pitches in the seventh. The right-hander had struck out all three he faced in Game 1, giving him six straight strikeouts, which eclipsed the previous mark of five.
But the D-backs now leave Chase Field behind and attempt to right their postseason ship at Coors Field for Game 3.
"Winning in Colorado is going to be no easy task, but it's something that we believe we can do," Byrnes said. "We're not going to lay down. We're going to fight. This team doesn't have a whole lot to lose. No one expected us to be here. At the same time we have high expectations of ourselves."
Sunday in Colorado, they'll find out if they can live up to them.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.