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Archive for Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rockies head home with 2-0 edge

Colorado works late for 3-2, 11-inning victory against Arizona in Game 2

October 14, 2007

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— Long known for their big bats, the Colorado Rockies suddenly have become masters of small ball.

Several sluggers have vanished in the playoffs. The Rockies have just one extra-base hit in the NL championship series, and that was a double by speedy leadoff man Willy Taveras that nobody else could have legged out.

Yet the rollin' Rockies are unbeaten in the postseason, and they're two wins from their first World Series while the snake-bit Arizona Diamondbacks can't seem to catch a break.

Even the forecast for Game 3 tonight calls for highs in the 40s with a chance of rain, not exactly the kind of weather the desert dwellers with the retractable roof are accustomed to.

Plus, in the 48-year history of divisional play, no team has been able to overcome losing the first two games at home to win a league championship series.

Arizona outfielder Eric Byrnes said the Diamondbacks don't feel as though they're facing long odds.

"I think we're a good team. I also don't think the Rockies have outplayed us, because they haven't. Not even close," Byrnes said. "They've had a little luck go their way. Definitely the ball has bounced in their direction. They've been the beneficiary of some calls.

"We look back on those first two games, we have not been outplayed. If anything I think it's the other way around," Byrnes insisted. "So, that gives us confidence knowing that we can play with them. That and the fact that we played them about 9,000 times this year. We are not really fazed by what's going on right now."

Neither are the Rockies, who have won 19 of 20 and insist they're not stumped by their offensive slump.

"I'll go 0-for-the-rest-of-the-series as long as we win the next two games," Troy Tulowitzki said.

Heck, Matt Holliday said, "I don't care if I don't get another hit the rest of the playoffs as long as we keep winning games."

The way things are going, maybe they'll get their wish.

Try this for lumbering lumber: Todd Helton is hitting .100 in the postseason and is 1-for-19 since slapping a triple in his first postseason at-bat. MVP hopeful Holliday and Rookie of the Year contender Tulowitzki are both scuffling at .190. Garrett Atkins leads the befuddled bunch with a relatively robust .250 batting average.

"I'm sure those guys are going to get hot," Taveras said.

Those four boppers combined for a .312 batting average with 160 doubles, 14 triples, 102 homers and 463 RBIs during the season. In the playoffs, they're 15-for-82 (.183) with three doubles, a triple, three homers and six RBIs.

Still, they're doing just enough to keep the Rockies Express rolling right along and they figure it's just a matter of time before the big bats awaken.

"We're definitely thinking we're going to come out of this soon and start driving the ball," Atkins said before rains cut off the Rockies' batting practice-heavy workout an hour early Saturday night.

"We're up 2-0, we're not really worried about the fact we haven't hit because it hasn't cost us any games yet."

Tonight, they'll face crafty Diamondbacks right-hander Livan Hernandez, who is 1-0 with a 1.54 earned-run average in five starts against Colorado this season. The Rockies counter with right-hander Josh Fogg.

Helton and Atkins joined Holliday and Tulowitzki in saying they couldn't care less if they ever got another hit this month as long as they keep winning games - something they've been doing thanks to the timely hitting of players such as Kaz Matsui, Brad Hawpe and Yorvit Torrealba.

"Whether Kaz is the hero or Hawper or somebody in the middle of the order, I mean, it doesn't matter as long as somebody's getting it done," Atkins said. "We have the type of lineup that doesn't need everybody going at the same time. Obviously, it would help, but you know if a couple of guys are struggling, we've got enough bats to keep us going in the right direction."

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