Diamondbacks Down, Not Out In NLDS
Experts Sharpen Their Claws As Gibby’s Grinders Face Elimination
The Arizona Diamondbacks will face the Milwaukee Brewers in NLDS action Tuesday night.
By Bob Goodwood
Modern Times Magazine
Oct. 3, 2011 — The Arizona Diamondbacks are now facing the biggest moment of the season.
Win or go home. It is that simple.
After the drubbing Sunday in Milwaukee, they have looked like the second best team in the series. The Brewers have thoroughly dominated the 18 innings played so far.
Ah, but its not over.
With the venue switching back to the ‘friendly confines’ of Chase Field, the Brewers might get a bit of what has ailed the Diamondbacks. It seemed like for the first time all year, the situation was getting to them — mainly the pitching staff.
Sure, that is easy to say after a staff that was respectable during the regular season suddenly hits the NLDS and gives up 13 runs in two games. But it was more the looks on their faces. There are times when Daniel Hudson might look like a deer in the headlights, but Ian Kennedy was a stoic hero all season. Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra have disappeared at the plate.
It seems like the playoff atmosphere is getting to some of these guys.
A little home cooking might do them some good.
Milwaukee was the toughest place to play all season. The Brewers led all of baseball with a 57-24 record. The Philadelphia Phillies followed with a 52-29 record, but the Diamondbacks were right on their heels at 51-30.
The Brewers believe they can win there and the crowd does too. Brewers fans deserve much praise for their raucous distractions. They added to the pressure the formidable Brewers squad already puts on any opposing team.
Coming home to Chase Field will surely be a benefit to this team on the brink.
The game will surely be a sellout, but the important thing is the crowd will likely be as pumped as when the Dbacks clinched. They will need to be in order to shout out any wayward Brewers fans positioned among the truly devoted Dbacks fans. Its time for the Diamondbacks’ tenth man to get involved and put a little pressure on the Brewers this time.
Let’s just hope that Prince Fielder does not respond like the second coming of a left-handed Reggie Jackson to the boos that are sure to reign down on him once again at Chase Field. The way Fielder has been going since, well, forever, he is not one to be trifled with. Just ask Ian Kennedy.
But regardless, the Diamondbacks will be looser at home and have played great with their backs to the wall all season. There is no reason to believe that will change Tuesday night.
While the home field advantage will be in the team’s favor, the players still have to execute. Josh Collmenter will take the hill with the confidence that he pitched his best game as a major leaguer against the Brewers at Chase Field July 18 when he went eight innings without giving up an earned run. The Brewers were without Ryan Braun in that contest, though.
The Michigan right hander has also seemed to find a way to keep getting batters out, even though many said his over the top delivery was a gimmick that would be figured out quickly. The best evidence of this came in late September, where he posted a 4.44 ERA, even including his four inning, seven-run performance against the San Diego Padres Sept. 11. While the seven earned runs was not good, he came back Sept. 17 and held the Padres to three runs in seven innings. He faced a team back-to-back and beat them the second time.
Maybe it is time to give Collmenter credit for his location rather than excusing it with his delivery.
The Dbacks will be facing Shawn Marcum, whom many have called the “third ace” of the Brewers’ staff. Marcum has been far from “ace-like” in September, though, going 2-2 with a 5.17 ERA including seven runs in less than five innings in his last start.
So before anyone starts saying its over or questioning the coaching staff, the Dbacks may be down but they are definitely not out. Four teams have climbed out of a 2-0 hole in the 15 years since the creation of division series: 1995 Mariners (vs. Yankees), 1999 Red Sox (vs. Indians), 2001 Yankees (vs. A's) and 2003 Red Sox (vs. A's).
No National League team has ever done it.
The task is a heavy one, but if any team has a chance, it is the guys in Sedona red who no one thought would even be playing October anyway.
Could a critic with a hyena’s heart blame the coaching staff for pushing the action — something that some say can’t be done in the playoffs? Sure. But is it wise? Not really. It is unwise because the truth is all of the decisions that did not go the Dbacks’ way were not bad decisions, but bad outcomes. And bad outcomes can happen even if the right decision was made.
The critics chirping now are the same people that predicted this team would finish in the cellar. Their credibility is gone.
As Yogi Berra said in 1973, “It ain’t over until it’s over.”
But whenever the 2011 roller coaster of a season ends, it was still a heck of a season.
Bob Goodwood is a freelance writer currently living in Scottsdale, Ariz.