The autumnal surge that pushed the Colorado Rockies into the postseason now has them on the verge of reaching the World Series for the first time in franchise history.
Yet to lose in the postseason, Colorado looks to sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks and capture the NL pennant Monday night in Game 4 of the league championship series at Coors Field.
Catcher Yorvit Torrealba hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the sixth inning of the Rockies’ 4-1 victory Sunday night to help Colorado go up 3-0 in the series. The victory was Colorado’s 20th in its last 21 contests.
“We’re going to come here just like we have been doing,” Torrealba said. “We’re going to relax, watch TV, and when it’s time to play, we’re going to try to get one more win.”
In their 15th season, the Rockies - who had just one postseason victory before 2007 - look to become the second team in NL history to open the postseason with seven straight wins. The 1976 Cincinnati Reds went 7-0 in sweeping Philadelphia and the New York Yankees for their second World Series title.
“We’re still focused on the task at hand,” Rockies first baseman Todd Helton said, whose team has outscored the Diamondbacks and Phillies by a combined 28-12 while winning all six of its postseason contests.
Torrealba continued his stellar October by going 2-for-4 and hitting his first postseason homer. Torrealba, who hit .255 in the regular season, is batting .381 (8-for-21) with seven RBIs in the playoffs. He’s joined the likes of Kaz Matsui and Willy Taveras as the lesser-known Rockies who have picked up the slack with stars Helton (.130 average), Troy Tulowitzki (.200) and MVP candidate Matt Holliday (.240) scuffling in the playoffs.
“It sure seems like in the big games (Torrealba’s) able to step up and perform,” said Holliday, who also homered Sunday.
Torrealba has also done a solid job handling the Rockies pitching staff, which has a 1.77 ERA in the postseason.
Meanwhile, Arizona will try to join the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only clubs to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. Needing multiple victories, manager Bob Melvin won’t rush staff ace and Game 1 loser Brandon Webb back to the mound Monday on three days’ rest, opting instead to go with rookie Micah Owings.
“Until they win four and we can’t win four at once. We’ve just got to get one on the board first,” Melvin said. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do all year.”
Owings will be making his postseason debut. He never had to make his scheduled start in Game 4 of the NL division series after the Diamondbacks swept the Chicago Cubs, and as a result has not pitched since beating Pittsburgh on Sept. 27.
The right-hander was 8-8 with a 4.30 ERA during the regular season, but did not face Colorado. He went 2-0 with a 1.77 ERA in his last three starts away from home.
“I’m going to go out and do the best I can, put my team in position to win and just take advantage of it and enjoy it,” said Owings, who was one of the majors’ top hitting pitchers, batting .333 (20-for-60) with four homers and 15 RBIs.
Seeking a clinching win, Colorado will also turn to a rookie starter in Franklin Morales (0-0, 9.00).
Morales, who went 3-2 with a 3.43 ERA in eight starts during the regular season, allowed three runs and three hits in three innings of the Rockies’ 10-5 win over Philadelphia in Game 2 of their NLDS on Oct. 4.
He will face a Diamondbacks team that has been outscored 12-4 in the NLCS while leaving 24 runners on base.
Drew is batting .423 (11-for-26) with two homers in the postseason.