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10/13/07 4:49 AM ET
D-backs' chance in ninth ends quietly
Drew caught off second, thinking he had been called out
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- The myriad mistakes that the young Diamondbacks have made in the first two games of the National League Championship Series were epitomized in the ninth inning on Friday night by Stephen Drew wandering off second base, thinking that he had been forced out.
Think not. Second baseman Kaz Matsui's flip of Eric Byrnes' grounder pulled shortstop Troy Tulowitzki off the base, as Chris Young scored the tying run from third.
Instead of having runners on first and second with one out, Drew was tagged out as he prematurely headed back to the dugout. Tulowitzki had missed second base, umpire Tom Hallion clearly signaling him safe. Tulowitzki ran after Drew, then threw to third baseman Jamey Carroll, who tagged Drew.
"When I took [Tulowitzki] out I thought he had touched the base, from my standpoint," Drew said after the Rockies prevailed, 3-2, in 11 innings to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. "I looked back and saw no call, and I figured I was out. So I headed back in and I looked at [third-base coach] Chip [Hale]. He's telling me to go back. At that point it was too late."
It was the second consecutive night when a play at second base was integral in costing the D-backs the game.
On Thursday in the seventh inning of Game 1, Justin Upton came in with a high slide to upend Matsui on the front end of a double play. Second-base umpire Larry Vanover called interference, meaning that Augie Ojeda, who had grounded to third, was automatically out at first. The D-backs had four baserunners during that inning, but failed to score in a game they ultimately lost, 5-1.
Likewise on Friday, the D-backs couldn't drive home the winning run after Drew was tagged out.
The D-backs certainly didn't play this way for most of the season, as they clawed their way to 90 wins and the NL West title. Asked if this was just the gesticulations of youthful exuberance, Upton bristled.
"Those things happen," he said. "I mean, they're going to happen. And there's nothing we can do about it. Next question."
In two nights, the D-backs have allowed unearned runs on a pair of errors -- Conor Jackson booting a ball at first base during the seventh inning on Thursday and third baseman Mark Reynolds misplaying a grounder on Friday to open the second. There have been two wild pitches, a passed ball, and closer Jose Valverde walking the bases loaded and the go-ahead run in during the 11th inning.
For a team that batted a nearly Major League worst .250 during the regular season and allowed 20 more runs than it scored, that's no way to play winning baseball.
"In these type of games, those things end up biting you a bit," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "Whether it's walks, a defensive miscue or a situational hitting at-bat, those are the things that end up costing you games. We left quite a few guys on base today . So did they . But they scratched out that one more run than we did."
Asked about Drew's play, Melvin was fairly succinct.
"He just assumed he was out," Melvin said. "He took his eye off the umpire, was coming off the field. And, unfortunately, that happened. But when you're sliding in there like that, you just assume you're going in there to break up the double play to an extent. [Tulowitzki] jumped over him. He didn't see where Tulowitzki was."
The ninth-inning rally developed out of nowhere with one out, the Rox leading 2-1, and closer Manny Corpus on the mound. On a 1-2 pitch, Corpus hit Young and Drew followed with a single to right-center, sending Young around to third.
Byrnes' one-strike slow bouncer was enough to plate Young with the tying run. It also should have been enough to keep Drew knotted to second.
"It's unfortunate," Drew said. "You can't hear the umpire's call. I was just trying to come in hard and break up the double play."