Rockies one win away from World Series
AP Sports Writer
DENVER ” No more slumbering lumber for the Colorado Rockies, who are one win away from roaring right into their first World Series.
With a cold rain falling, Josh Fogg shut down Arizona’s bats in his first postseason start and Yorvit Torrealba hit a tiebreaking three-run homer to fuel the Rockies’ 4-1 victory Sunday night in Game 3 of the NL championship series.
The Rollin’ Rockies took a 3-0 lead with their 20th win in 21 games. They will try to sweep the Diamondbacks on Monday night when Franklin Morales faces Arizona’s Micah Owings in a matchup of rookies who have never faced each other’s teams.
The Diamondbacks are hoping to join the 2004 Boston Red Sox, who rallied past the New York Yankees, as the only teams to overcome a 3-0 hole to win a best-of-seven postseason series.
Torrealba connected in the sixth inning, three pitches after watching one of Livan Hernandez’s trademark “eephus” offerings poke across the plate for a strike ” so slow it didn’t register on the stadium scoreboard radar.
After a 60 mph bender that he fought off for a foul, Torrealba hit a fastball 402 feet into the left-field seats, then raced around the bases pumping his fists and hooting and hollering.
Torrealba, who is 8-for-21 in the playoffs with seven RBIs, nearly had a home run in the third when he doubled off the center-field wall. The stadium’s pyrotechnics operator thought it was gone and set off some fireworks as Torrealba pulled into second base.
The real fireworks came three innings later from Torrealba, who had just eight home runs in the regular season.
MVP hopeful Matt Holliday also homered off Hernandez, who fell to 7-3 lifetime in the playoffs. He allowed four earned runs on eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. Holliday’s homer in the first inning was the first by either team in this series.
Fogg, who won Game 2 of the divisional series over Philadelphia in relief of Morales, scattered seven hits, including rookie Mark Reynolds’ solo home run in the fourth, in six stellar innings. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.
With the gametime temperature hovering at 43 degrees ” and quickly dipping into the 30s ” and a light drizzle falling, the crowd showed up wearing fleece jackets, gloves, wool caps and scarves, looking like they were headed for the ski slopes west of Denver, where it was indeed snowing.
Even Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero wore a ski cap beneath his catcher’s helmet.
It was only fitting that the Rockies sent a pitcher named Fogg to the mound to deal with the elements in the first NLCS game in Denver in franchise history. The Rockies have not lost since Sept. 16, and this win at Coors Field was their ninth straight victory overall.
A cool drizzle fell all day and continued into the evening. The grounds crew didn’t even remove the tarp until an hour before the game. In between innings, they brought out bags of dry dirt to keep the infield from getting too slick. In the fifth, the crews poured a wheelbarrow full of “diamond dust” around home plate.
The TBS broadcast mentioned how the grounds crew ran out of the quick-dry dirt and started calling around. They said they found some in a warehouse and showed a truck rolling up to the stadium with extra bags.
Holliday, with only two other hits in this series, neither of which left the infield, put Colorado ahead 1-0 in the first inning with a high drive. Left fielder Eric Byrnes crashed into the wall chasing the ball, much to the delight of the crowd that razzed him every chance they got.
Forty-eight hours earlier, Byrnes suggested the Rockies were a lucky bunch who had actually been outplayed by the Diamondbacks in this series.
Although that drew the ire of the fans, Rockies rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said there was some truth to Byrnes’ comments “and they can outplay us all four games. If we end up winning the series, I’ll be fine with that.”
Reynolds hit a 422-foot solo shot in the fourth to tie it at 1-all, sending a first-pitch breaking ball from Fogg halfway up into the left-field seats to quiet the sellout crowd of 50,137.
After Fogg left, the Rockies turned to their trusty bullpen to wrap up their ninth straight win.
Jeremy Affeldt threw the seventh, Brian Fuentes the eighth and Manny Corpas the ninth for his fourth save of the playoffs. In Game 2 at Arizona, Corpas blew a save chance in the ninth inning.
The Diamondbacks, who have struggled all series to string together good at-bats, had their chances against Fogg early but hit into double plays in each of the first three innings.
After singles by Arizona’s first two batters, Chris Young and Stephen Drew, Byrnes lined out to Fogg. The right-hander threw to second to double up Young, but Drew beat the relay back to first.
Had second baseman Kaz Matsui not stepped in front of Tulowitzki at the bag for the putout, the stronger-armed rookie might have had his second triple play of 2007. Tulowitzki pulled off the 11th unassisted triple play in major league history back in May.
With runners at the corners in the second, Augie Ojeda grounded to second. Matsui’s throw was high, but Tulowitzki grabbed it, spun 360 degrees and fired to first to complete the double play and end the threat. Drew grounded into an inning-ending double play to end the third.
In the fourth, Byrnes hit a ball that looked like the game-tying home run until slicing just foul down the left-field line before he watched a fastball zip past his knees for strike three.
The Rockies are trying for their first NL pennant in the franchise’s 15-year history, and history appears solidly on their side.
Arizona must win four straight games against a Rockies team that is the first since the 1935 Chicago Cubs to win at least 20 of 21 games after Sept. 1, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Colorado is the second team in NL history to open the postseason with six straight wins, joining the 1976 Cincinnati Reds, which went 7-0 in the playoffs, sweeping the Phillies and Yankees for the Big Red Machine’s second straight title.
Notes: Before the Rockies, the last team to put together a 19-1 run was the 1977 Kansas City Royals, and Colorado manager Clint Hurdle made his major league playing debut for the Royals during that stretch. … Fogg’s last start was on Oct. 1, in the NL wild-card play-in that the Rockies won in 13 innings over San Diego.