Outplayed But Not Outclassed
Eric Byrnes stirred up a little controversy in his workout-day press conference yesterday, particularly by his remark that "I think we’re a good team. I also don’t think the Rockies haveoutplayed us, because they haven’t. Not even close. They’ve had a
little luck go their way. Definitely the ball has bounced in their
direction. They’ve been the beneficiary of some calls. So when we look
at that as a group, we look back on those first two games, we have not
been outplayed. If anything, I think it’s the other way around."
With the Diamondbacks having lost the first two games of the LCS at home, MLB.com is suggesting that Byrnesie may have furnished a few inspirational words for the Rockies’ bulletin board. Surely the Rockies have outplayed the D’Backs in the sense that they have won both games. But they have not outclassed the Snakes. They have not played such dominating baseball as to make the Diamondbacks look like they don’t belong on the same field with the Rockies. As I’ve said before, it looked more like the Diamondbacks lost it, rather than the Rockies won it. Same results statistically however you look at it, but the first is a critically different perspective for a team looking to get up off the mat.
Consider the first game: Stephen Drew came up twice with the bases loaded and two out, and twice failed to deliver even one run. The Rockies scored 5 runs on 7 hits. Outplayed, yes. But none of the Rockies’ hits were for extra bases! Outclassed, no! Brandon Webb said, "They had some good luck on their side, because they didn’t hit too
many hard. But give them credit for putting the ball in play and
hitting it where we weren’t. There was nothing I could do about it." By putting the ball in play, the Rockies got chances to benefit from good luck. Lady Luck likes to hang out with Big Mo, and Big Mo has been hanging out with the Rockies for about a month now.
In the second game, Willie Taveras, whom Eric Byrnes called "… really good. He’s one of the better center fielders in the game," made a crucial difference in the sixth inning. Tony Clark, immediate victim of Taveras’ leatherwork said, "Obviously, he made a great catch. If that ball tips off his glove,
Byrnesie scores and it’s a different ballgame, so it was a great play by
Willy. Very few players are athletic enough to make that play and Willy
is one of them."
The Rockies made several great plays that game, while Mark Reynolds let a grounder go through the wickets and eventually an unearned run scored. Outplayed, yes. But the game was a one-run affair that went 11-innings! Outclassed, no.
And since the Diamondbacks are not outclassed by the Rockies, they have a legitimate chance to take Game 3 and even take the series. Thirteen teams have come back to win a 7-game series after going down 0-2, the latest was the ’04 Red Sox. So, while the task is hard, it’s not impossible.
The Diamondbacks have to play like Western Division Champions, not like a bunch of guys who’ve never been there before, even though Reynolds, Drew, Montero and Upton, to name a few, haven’t been there. The veterans have to step up. Livan Hernandez, a former World Series MVP, has to pitch lights out. They need the kind of out of the box thinking that induced pinch-hitter Jeff Cirillo to beat out a beautiful and unexpected two-out bunt in Game 1. They need Jose Valverde to be the closer who led the majors in saves. And they need the hitters, this means you, Eric, No. 3, proud to be one of the guys called upon to drive in runs, to be timely.
Byrnesie called himself out on May 24th when the D’Backs were shut out for the second time in the then-young season. He delivered and led the team on a winning streak. Let’s see if he can do it again.