D-backs face unenviable position
NLCS shifts to Colorado with Rockies up 2-0
PHOENIX -- The road to the World Series is always treacherous. For the D-backs, it also just got a little Rocky.Leaving Chase Field, where they hadn't lost consecutive games to the same team since Aug. 20-21, and heading to Coors Field, where the Rockies have dropped one series since mid-August, is not the ideal itinerary out of an 0-2 divot in the National League Championship Series. "Guess we've got to win it in six now, huh?" Arizona third baseman Mark Reynolds mused bravely following the 11th-inning, 3-2 loss in Friday night's Game 2. "No one's ever down in here," Reynolds added, gesturing around the D-backs' locker room. "We're always confident. We've made the task a little harder on ourselves. We'll just have to go to Colorado, be ready to play, and hope to get the series back here." The D-comeback road will begin Sunday night, under the guidance of postseason veteran Livan Hernandez, who will oppose the Rockies' Josh Fogg in the 8:37 p.m. ET game. Coming back from 0-2 is difficult enough. 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 should be noted too, that those three teams all lost the first two games on the road. Extending the handicap to historical lengths, including World Series, only 13 of 66 teams facing the deficit have rallied to win. But it is a compounded challenge to come back on a team riding a 19-1 wave. "We've got to think about winning one," said Arizona first baseman Tony Clark, alluding to his teammates' narrow focus. "Not thinking about two, three or four." The NLCS will now shed some degrees, but perhaps gain some wattage. Denver game-time temperatures are forecast in the 50s, about 30 degrees lower than the Phoenix norm. But the relative cool won't chill the suddenly zealous Rockies fans, who have stormed the bandwagon in the tracks of the team's phenomenal streak. Denver, a baseball town? Right now, so help John Elway, that is the reported case, assisted by the Broncos' slow start. During the regular season, the Rockies outdrew the D-backs by a mere 51,000 -- yet another department in which the teams are incredibly close. But Coors Field denizens have been a wild-and-crazy bunch through the chaotic stretch, the Wild Card playoff and the Division Series clincher. "Everyone's played there more than enough. We're familiar with the park and the players," said Arizona outfielder Jeff Salazar. "It'll be a lot of fun. The fans will be crazy there. "We just have to keep doing what we've done so far. There's no need to change. Just hope things turn our way."
The D-backs and Rockies, along with the long-gone Angels, were the only teams in the 2007 playoff field who had losing records on the road.The Rockies clearly aced that test with two error-free, methodical nights in Chase Field. Now it's the D-backs' turn to prove road-worthy. "Well, you know what? We've come back from difficult circumstances this year," their manager, Bob Melvin, said. "A team has to win four before it's over. We'll have a day to regroup. And we'll go to Colorado, focused on winning one game at a time." The historical perception is that the offenses will click in the Mile High City's ballpark. Two games at Chase Field produced a total of 11 runs, many of them of the scratch variety. No long balls, no sustained rallies. Coors Field could jolt both lineups. The D-backs, trailing despite having outhit Colorado in both games (9-8 and 9-7), look forward to that one key hit able to unleash their attack. The Rockies look forward to hitting off Hernandez, whose opponents' average of .308 was the third-highest among 75 Major Leaguers with 10-plus wins (ranking ahead of only Scott Olsen's .315 and Mike Mussina's .311). The Rox thus are in the enviable position of being able to anticipate breaking out of a batting lull -- while looking for their 20th win 21 games. "It's very exciting. There's no doubt about it," said Colorado veteran Todd Helton. "But we realize there's more work to be done. It's a good ballclub over there. They're going to come out battling. But we're excited to be in the situation we're in. "Denver's going to be a crazy place this weekend, and we're excited to go home and keep playing the way we've been playing. But we still have work to do." Either the Rockies will work over the D-backs a little more -- or Arizona will go to work and make them put in some overtime.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.