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Gameday Thread, NLCS #3: 10/14 vs. Rockies

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Livan Hernandez (32, RHP, 11-11, 4.93)
Josh Fogg (30, RHP, 10-9, 4.94) preview [opens in new window]

Quote of the Day: "I'm sure you guys are all probably writing us off; I don't blame you," he said. "We haven't done a whole lot to make you guys think we're going to win this series. I think we're a good team. I also don't think the Rockies have outplayed us, because they haven't. Not even close. 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." -- Eric Byrnes

And so we move to not-so-sunny Coors, where it's looking pretty miserable as I write these words, going by the Webcam pics. The temperature is currently a frigid 42F - Arizona residents may be entirely unfamiliar with those digits, therefore, as a public service, this Scotsman would like to inform you that it's pretty fricking cold. And it's not going to get any warmer the rest of the night. Hard to say who that's going to effect more, but let's just say - I'm glad I got my NLCS attendance in last night, under the Phoenix skies, wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. It is supposed to be the boys of summer after all.

We just spent the early part of this afternoon watching 11:59, a conspiracy thriller about a TV cameraman who becomes convinced that the media and judicial systems are conspiring to frame an innocent man for political ends. It's pretty good (out now on DVD), but the irony was, seeing the hero drive down a highway and see a sign that said, "Next Exit: Coors Field". Yep, the entire thing was filmed in and around Denver. What are the odds against that? I don't think I've ever seen a movie shot there before, and we find one the day of our first-ever playoff game there? I'm sure it's an omen of some sort: but I just don't know what.

Fighting words from Eric Byrnes above, even if the time is past for that: now, only action will suffice. We've gone from "like to win" to "want to win" to, now, if not quite "must win", then probably "really, really need to win." And who better to turn to in that situation than Livan Hernandez? Er, that's a rhetorical question folks, please do not answer by throwing a copy of the Baseball Almanac for 2007 at me. He is what we have, and does respond well to stress - simply by ignoring it entirely, and throwing the same damn game he always does. Arizona fans should stock up on soft, fluffy objects to throw at the TV, because they'll need them. Kittens, however, are not recommended, since they can cause smearing on larger screens.

That said, here's a somewhat staggering fact for you. Twenty-one pitchers have thrown more than a dozen innings against Colorado this year, including Brad Penny, Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Derek Lowe and Barry Zito: guess who's got the lowest ERA of the lot? Livan Hernandez: a solid 35 innings, giving up only six earned runs for a miserly 1.54 ERA. Admittedly, he only has a 1-0 record in that time, but if the regular-season figures hold up, it might not be the pitching side that's the problem today. Not that the pitching has really been the problem the first two games either: six earned runs in 20 innings is an ERA of 2.70. We'd have settled for that coming in.

No: today, it's the turn of the offense to wake the hell up and put some runs on the board. Clutch hits need to appear, and we need to get contributions from the likes of Reynolds, Young and Jackson, who are a combined 3-for-19 so far. Though a sneak peek at the lineup tells me Jackson is on the bench - since Tony Clark was about our best hitter in Game Two, I can't say that's any surprise. Montero will also be catching, as he always does for Livan, and it looks like Salazar is starting ahead of Upton. We've faced Fogg four times this year, with a credible 2.62 ERA. Taking advantage of walks might be the key, since he gave us 11 free passes in 24 innings.

Of course, this may all turn out to be moot, if the weather performs its worst. I believe, in that eventuality, we will then play tomorrow and Tuesday instead. That could be helpful, giving us a chance to use Webb in Game Four - either a must-win or leveling game, depending on how Game Three goes - on full rest. Admittedly, given how the Rockies have worked him over this season, not least the parade of bloopers, bleeders and seeing-eye singles inflicted in Game One, we might just want to go with Micah Owings in Game Four anyway, and let him take advantage of the Coors Effect, humidor or not.

Will be about for this one, if it happens, though will be multi-tasking since I've got two film reviews to write as well. But my main focus will be on the game, needless to say. If we win this game, we'll be right back in it, since I expected to be 2-1 down after three games anyway. At the moment, the Rockies think they're unstoppable, and it has proved that way so far: denting that feeling of immortality is going to be the first step in resurrecting our series chances. So, let's go D-backs, lift the Fogg early, and get this back to a one-game series.