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World Series 2001
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10/22/2001 04:18 AM ET
D-Backs embrace underdog label
By Jim Molony
MLB.com
ATLANTA -- The Arizona Diamondbacks are welcoming the role of World Series underdogs, which they are certain to be whether they face the Seattle Mariners or the three-time defending World Series Champion New York Yankees.

"This team has believed in itself since Spring Training," Arizona first baseman Mark Grace said. "Some people didn't think we would win the division, some people thought we wouldn't get by St. Louis, and some thought we were in trouble when we split the first two games at home (in the NLCS).

"But we've never doubted that we're a good team, maybe better than a lot of people think. So let everybody keep underestimating us if they want, that's fine."

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Grace has a point. Any team that can send Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson to the mound two times each in a seven-game series is not to be easily dismissed. And the Diamondbacks are more than their two biggest guns.

In Luis Gonzalez they have a slugger who is capable of taking over a series all by himself. They have a defense that is among the best in baseball and a lineup that has been effective if not spectacular. As one scout put it this weekend "they don't wow you one through eight (in the order), all they do is beat you."

And despite all of their veterans, this appears to be a hungry team.

"We're playing about as well as we can play right now, and (Johnson) and Curt are pitching lights out," Gonzalez said. "I feel good about this team, I really do."

SIZZLING
Randy Johnson. The Big Unit has been out-shined in the postseason by teammate Curt Schilling, but the left-hander was superb in the NLCS, going 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA during the NLCS to help send Arizona to its first World Series.

FIZZLING
Andruw Jones and Brian Jordan. The No. 5 and No. 4 hitters in the Atlanta lineup played well in the NLDS against Houston, but their bats were missing in action in the NLCS and the Atlanta offense couldn't overcome the loss. Jones went 3-for-17 (.176) and Jordan finished 4-for-21 (.190).

Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com.