The Rockies have won 19 of their last 20 games overall, including all five of their postseason contests. After a three-game division series sweep of Philadelphia, they took the first two games of the NLCS in Arizona, including an 11-inning, 3-2 victory in Friday’s Game 2.
The wild-card Rockies joined the 1976 Cincinnati Reds as the only NL teams to win their first five games in a postseason. That Reds team won seven straight, including a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees in the World Series.
“We expect to win every game,” outfielder Ryan Spilborghs said. “To come out of here with two wins is pretty much what we expected.”
With two more wins, the Rockies will capture the first pennant of their 15-season history.
“We realize there’s more work to be done,” veteran first baseman Todd Helton said. “Denver is going to be a crazy place this weekend.”
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, seem to have lost all of their momentum after sweeping the Chicago Cubs in their NLDS. Nonetheless, manager Bob Melvin remains optimistic.
“We’ve come back from some difficult circumstances this year,” he said. “It’s two games. A team has to win four before it’s over.”
The Rockies are getting it done despite an anemic offense. Helton and NL MVP candidate Matt Holliday are both 1-for-8 (.125) through the first two games of the series, and the Rockies are batting .211 as a team.
However, the team has been boosted by a relief corps that has allowed just two earned runs in 20 innings. Closer Manny Corpas blew just his second save since becoming Colorado’s closer in July in Game 2, but came back to throw a perfect 10th and earn the win.
Corpas saved all three NLDS victories over Philadelphia.
“This has been all about pitching,” said Taveras, who made a diving catch to preserve a one-run lead in the seventh inning. “Holliday and Helton, they’re trying. I’m sure those guys are going to get hot.”
Helton is batting .485 (32-for-66) with 12 doubles lifetime against Livan Hernandez, who will get the start for Arizona on Sunday.
Hernandez gave up one run in six innings in Game 3 against the Cubs, improving to 7-2 with a 3.75 ERA in his 11th postseason appearance and ninth start. The veteran right-hander, who went 11-11 with a 4.93 ERA in 33 starts during the regular season, allowed 11 baserunners but was able to work his way out of a number of jams.
Hernandez was MVP of the 1997 NLCS and World Series while helping Florida to its first championship, but hadn’t pitched in the postseason since he went 0-2 with a 14.29 ERA in two starts during the 2002 World Series with San Francisco.
“I know what happens in the playoffs, and that is that one run can be the difference,” Hernandez told the Diamondbacks’ official Web site. “It is important to make some runs and save some runs. You never see a 14-0 playoff game or a 10-0 game. Every game is close.”
Hernandez was tough against the Rockies this season, going 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA in five starts. The win came on May 17 at Coors Field, when he yielded one run in seven innings.
Josh Fogg, who starts Game 3 for the Rockies, gave up two runs in seven innings in that game but was charged with the loss. Hernandez and Fogg also squared off on May 22 in Arizona, with Hernandez giving up one run in eight innings and Fogg yielding one run in six innings. Neither pitcher got a decision.
Fogg is making his first career postseason start. The Rockies chose to give him the ball instead of Aaron Cook, who has not pitched since Aug. 10 because of a strained oblique but was eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list this week.
Fogg is 6-1 with a 3.71 ERA in 12 career outings against the Diamondbacks.
The right-hander was 10-9 with a 4.94 ERA during the regular season but finished strong, going 3-0 with a 3.82 ERA in his final seven starts.
He also pitched two innings of scoreless relief to earn the win in Game 2 of Colorado’s NLDS against the Phillies.