video thumbnail

MIL@ARI: Collmenter fans seven, holding Brewers scoreless for eight innings in July

PHOENIX -- Looking for the plus side of a 2-0 National League Division Series deficit, the Arizona Diamondbacks can point to their own record of resilience.

The D-backs led the Major Leagues in come-from-behind victories this season with 48. Further encouragement could be taken from the work of their Game 3 starter, Josh Collmenter. In two starts against the Milwaukee Brewers this season, covering 14 innings, Collmenter gave up no runs on six hits.

One loss away from postseason elimination, with the Brewers playing exceptionally well, the D-backs can take additional solace from the fact that they have come home to Chase Field for Game 3 on Tuesday night, and, they hope, Game 4 on Wednesday night.

"We have hope," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We're going to go to our environment now. We've played better at home, just as well as the Brewers have.

"The Brewers have played well. You've got to give them credit at this point. We have been resilient all year, and we expect to come back and play well in our arena, as well.

"We need to win the next three. We've won three games or more [in a row] 12 times this season. We won nine games in a row. We won seven in a row twice, six in a row once. So we're aware that we have the ability to play better and execute better and stop giving the Brewers additional opportunities to put us away. So we had a little chat about that [Monday]. We understand what we're up against and we cherish the opportunity to be here."

The Brewers won't expect anything other than the D-backs' best shot.

"I think it gets a lot more difficult," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said Monday. "They've played well here. They know that they've got to really get after us. We know what's on the line, too. We'll come out certainly playing hard and doing whatever we can.

"But they're a scrappy team, like we feel we are when we've got to win a game. We feel like we can scrap and we can win a game. And I think they feel the same way."

The Collmenter factor will be telling, one way or another.

"He's got a lot of deception, [with] his delivery," Roenicke said. "We're not the only team that has trouble with him. He's done well. His first year up in the big leagues, extremely well. Great changeup, good location on the fastball. He mixes in the curveball enough to where you have to think about it."

Collmenter may be a rookie, but he gave a veteran's explanation for his success against the Brewers.

"I think against the Brewers I had a lot of things working," he said. "I was able to establish the fastball and I think really kept them uncomfortable. And as the game got on, I think them being such an aggressive team, it got them frustrated. And then you can flip that aggressiveness around on them, make them swing at pitches they're not necessarily comfortable swinging at."

The Brewers will send Shaun Marcum against Collmenter. On the Major Leagues' best home team, Marcum was headed in the other direction. He was much better on the road (8-3, 2.21 ERA) than at home (5-4, 4.81). Marcum is a finesse/command pitcher who polished his craft pitching for Toronto in the ultra-tough American League East. His sense of humor has also helped him over the rough spots.

"That was one thing I learned real quick when I got up there is you have to locate and keep the ball down," Marcum said. "For the most part, I've been able to do that, especially on the road. Not so much at home. But luckily we're not playing at Miller Park."

Marcum might be the only man on the Milwaukee roster who would make that last remark. But anywhere on the planet, the Brewers are one victory away from the NL Championship Series. The D-backs are home, but they are home with no remaining margin for error.

Gibson said that given the D-backs' situation, he had a thought about difficult straits in a previous postseason, this one an NLCS when he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I was specifically thinking about where we were against the Mets in 1988," Gibson said. "We were basically three outs away from going down three games to one, Doc Gooden on the mound."

The Dodgers rallied to win that game and went on to win that series in seven games. That, of course set the stage for the Dodgers' triumph over the Oakland Athletics in the World Series. That victory was set in motion when Gibson, suffering from a hamstring injury that was so severe he could barely walk, much less run, limped up to the plate and hit a pinch-hit home run off premier closer Dennis Eckersley to win Game 1.

The path ahead is clear for the D-backs. As Gibson put it:

"So you have a will, you have to try and find a way. It's the attitude we'll take."

That is the only attitude the D-backs can take at this point. They're in against a tough Milwaukee club that is playing at a high level. What Arizona has at this point is a track record of not giving in to what might seem to others like inevitable defeat.

MLB.com Comments