Hosts in need of desert rally
Arizona rookie to start Game 3
PHOENIX - Down in the standings or down to their last out, the Diamondbacks found a way to rally all season, riding their comebacks into the playoffs. They’ll need another one, or it’s going to be a short return to the postseason.
Trailing the bashing-and-bunting Brewers, 2-0, in the National League Division Series, Arizona returns home for Game 3 tonight, sending rookie righthander Josh Collmenter to face Milwaukee righthander Shaun Marcum.
“I think it’s good that we came from behind all year,’’ Diamondbacks third baseman Ryan Roberts said. “There’s no panic mode here.’’
There at least has to be some concern.
Arizona put up a monster May after falling behind by 6 1/2 games in April and mastered the art of the comeback, rallying to win a major league-high 48 times on its way to the NL West title.
Unable to catch the Brewers in the regular season to secure home-field advantage in the first round, the Diamondbacks opened the NLDS with two games in Milwaukee.
They return to the desert searching for answers after two deflating losses.
Playing like the team to beat in the National League, the Brewers put the Diamondbacks on their heels with a tough-to-beat combination of good pitching, power, and some small ball.
Milwaukee touched up Arizona’s two best pitchers to start the series, getting to 21-game winner Ian Kennedy for four runs to win the opener, 4-1, and 16-game winner Daniel Hudson for five in a 9-4 victory in Game 2.
The Brewers’ brawn of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun have been brutally effective, combining to go 9 for 16 with two homers, six RBIs, and six runs.
Milwaukee also has done the little things right, including Jonathan Lucroy’s deftly placed safety squeeze that triggered a five-run sixth inning in the Brew Crew’s Game 2 win on Sunday.
It’s been just two games, but the Brewers have been monsters, their “Beast Mode’’ celebrations against the Diamondbacks putting a scare into the rest of the playoff field.
“We’ve done a really good job of staying in the moment, embracing the moment and trying to accomplish as much as we can every day,’’ Braun said.
Next in line to try to stop Milwaukee is Collmenter, the Paul Bunyan-esque righthander with the over-the-top delivery crafted from his tomahawk-throwing days as a kid.
Buried deep in Arizona’s farm system just a year ago, Collmenter had a superb start to his rookie season, starting with an impressive stint as a reliever after an April call-up, followed by a pair of scoreless starts after being added to the rotation. He couldn’t keep up that pace as teams figured out how to hit against his quirky delivery, but still finished the regular season 10-10 with a 3.38 ERA.