D-backs understand dire situation

D-backs understand dire situation

DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies love their position. That doesn't necessarily mean that the D-backs hate theirs.

None of that "We've got 'em right where we want 'em" spiel from Arizona. Nobody wants to be three down in a best-of-seven series. But these D-backs have been deaf to gongs of the death knell all year. They're not going to start tuning into it now.

Colorado senses the importance of closing out the D-backs in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Monday at 10:18 p.m. ET. The Rockies have them down -- way down, actually -- and need to keep them down. One sniff of victory could put the D-backs juggernaut on the tracks.

"Yes, I do," Arizona left fielder Eric Byrnes said, when asked whether he felt everyone in his clubhouse believes they could run off four straight. "It's a definite possibility that we could do it.

"It would take a lot of luck in our direction, and we would absolutely have to play better than we have. We need both of those things to happen and, if they do, you never know."

Young lefty Franklin Morales will try to pin the D-backs in straight falls when he is opposed by Micah Owings -- a confrontation that will be quite literal when the sweet-swinging Arizona right-hander occupies the batter's box.

"You can do a lot of wishing and hoping," said Tony Clark, the wise old Arizona first baseman. "Until that last out, I refuse to believe that we don't have an opportunity."

Slides and sprees have simply both been part of the '07 D-backs' DNA. They weathered three losing streak of five games, during which they appeared to be the same helpless team on display in three NLCS games. But they also had five winning streaks of six-plus, when they appeared invincible.

The Rockies can't take a chance on Arizona taking that first step, because it could turn into a run before they know it.

That, the Rockies already know. So they concede a win Monday for a four-game sweep is imperative.

"It is for us," said their manager, Clint Hurdle. "It's been that way for five weeks. All our focus is on winning the game [Monday]. They're a good club."

The D-backs have 17 reasons to expect good things from Owings on the mound -- one for each day since he last pitched in a game. In his last two outings, he unfurled 15 1/3 shutout innings on nine days' rest against San Francisco and eight days' rest against Pittsburgh, respectively. So he should be twice as good Monday night.

"I have all the confidence in the world in Micah," said Mark Reynolds, the third baseman whose fourth-inning homer accounted for Arizona's lone run Sunday night. "He's been lights-out his last few starts and hasn't thrown in a while, so maybe his arm is fresh."

complete coverage
Home  |  News  |  Multimedia  |  Photos

Reynolds went so far as to say, "All the pressure is on them now, and hopefully we can reel off a few wins. All the pressure is off us. We're down 3-0. We're going to come out and have fun and see what happens."

At various points of this series, we have seen youth harm Arizona on the field. Outfielder Jeff Salazar thinks it now will help in the clubhouse.

"As long as we have the right mindset, it's possible," Salazar said of one win begetting three more. "As long as guys don't feel too much pressure and keep each other relaxed.

"You have to try to be oblivious to how big [Monday's] game is. That's the key. What might help us is having enough young guys who don't really understand how much is riding on the game. That might benefit us.

"If we get the first one out of the way, it'll be a little confidence boost. We've played with them."

That first one could be a tall order. Colorado's march has reached 20 wins in 21 games.

There is no rain in the forecast after a rain-soaked Game 3, but temperatures are expected to be in the 40s. Among the chilled Coors Field fans, World Series fever was already spreading.

"Better than the 1927 Yankees. That's what I was reading," said an older gentleman, his eyes glazed over, alluding to the tear the Rockies have taken into, and maintained in, the postseason. "Better than all the Gas House Gangs. Better than anything ever in the history of Major League Baseball!

"Can you believe it? We won't have to go to the World Series. The World Series will come to us."

Had any uniformed member of the Rockies been within earshot of that heartfelt paean, he would have winced. They know you have to let sleeping D-backs lie, or they could run wild.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.