|Diamondbacks OF Eric Byrnes' comments fail to light a spark|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 15 October 2007 01:37|
And so Byrnes spent time after the Diamondbacks' 4-1 loss in Game 3 of the NL championship series on Sunday night backtracking.
``I wasn't speaking negatively about the Rockies,'' Byrnes said Sunday after the Diamondbacks fell into a 3-0 hole in the best-of-seven series. ``I was speaking on behalf of our team.''
Byrnes said Saturday night that Colorado hadn't outplayed the Diamondbacks in the series, but that the Rockies were the beneficiary of a little more luck and some fortunate calls.
``We have not been outplayed,'' Byrnes said the night before Game 3. ``If anything, I think it's the other way around.''
Byrnes didn't mean any disrespect toward the Rockies, a team that has now won 20 of their last 21 games.
He just didn't want his team written off.
``We had played two games up to that point against them and we felt that either one of those games could have gone our way,'' Byrnes said. ``They didn't.''
Byrnes still likes the Diamondbacks' chances - if they play better.
``We have Game 4 coming up,'' he said. ``If we can find a way to pull it out, we have (Brandon) Webb going Wednesday. I think we could do it. Is it going to take a lot of luck in our direction? Absolutely. Is it going to have to come with us playing a lot better than we have? One hundred percent.''
IN A FOGG: Rockies pitcher Josh Fogg lived up to his nickname of ``Dragon Slayer'' on Sunday night.
Fogg went six innings, giving up seven hits and one run, to earn his second win of the postseason.
He was given the nickname by outfielder Matt Holliday for his ability to come up big in important games.
``Don't need nicknames, but as long as we keep winning, you can say whatever you want,'' Fogg said.
Fogg is now 7-1 against the Diamondbacks in his career. He didn't know how to explain his success.
``You know, some teams you match up well against,'' Fogg said. ``They have a lot of right-handed hitters, which obviously favors me.''
BUGGING OUT: Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Red Sox arrived in Cleveland ready to face the Indians - and possibly millions of bugs.
Boston, which split the first two games of the AL championship series, watched the New York Yankees fall victim to a swarm of midges in the first round of the playoffs. They bugged rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain enough that he threw two costly wild pitches in Game 2 as the Indians came back to win 2-1 in 11 innings.
Matsuzaka, Boston's starter for Monday night's Game 3 of the ALCS, packed accordingly.
``I did bring along some bug spray,'' he said Sunday. ``But in terms of preparation, that's about it.''
The bugs, called midges, breed on the outskirts of lakes during warm fall weather.
Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 60s this week, not as warm as the unseasonable 80-degree weather when the Yankees were in town Oct. 5.
Still, the Red Sox are ready.
``Anytime there's been bugs on my body, I'm not sure I felt real comfortable about talking about it,'' manager Terry Francona said.
``I guess it's kind of like rain. If it rains, you handle it. If it snows, you handle it. If it's cold, you handle it. I guess if there's bugs, you get bug spray.''
DEFENDING GAGNE: Eric Gagne, like many Red Sox players, chose rest over a team workout Sunday. But he was a big topic of conversation.
Gagne, who took the loss in Cleveland's 13-6 victory over Boston in Game 2 on Saturday night, entered with the teams tied at 6 in the 11th inning.
He started well, striking out Casey Blake, before giving up a single to Grady Sizemore and a walk to Asdrubal Cabrera. Javier Lopez took over and Sizemore scored the go-ahead run on Trot Nixon's single.
Gagne's teammates defended him Sunday, about a dozen hours after he left the mound with Boston fans jeering.
``They've obviously been hard on him,'' catcher Jason Varitek said. ``We're going to need him. He's going to have to get some outs for us and I think he's fully capable of doing that.''
Gagne has struggled while making the transition from closer to a setup role since the Red Sox acquired him from Texas at the trading deadline. Fans have been on him practically since he showed up in Boston.
``When he first came over here, he had the gall to give up some runs in Boston,'' manager Terry Francona said. ``You can't do that.''
Gagne finished the season strong, not allowing an earned run in his last five appearances. But Saturday night's outing earned him more disdain from Red Sox fans.
Gagne's ERA for this postseason ballooned to 11.57. He's allowed four hits and three runs in 2 1-3 innings over three games.
Francona said he would have allowed Gagne to face Nixon if he had retired Cabrera - Gagne didn't and it was the turning point of the game.
``Yesterday, the ball came out well. Even in that walk, he just missed,'' Varitek said. ``It wasn't like he walked a guy totally losing it on the mound.''
Gagne's only other postseason appearance was in 2004 with the Los Angeles Dodgers - he pitched three innings in two games and did not give up a run.
``We're pulling for him,'' second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. ``He's a part of this. We need him to win. All you guys get down on him. We need him more than anybody - Big Papi, Manny - we need Eric Gagne over anybody.''
MICAH'S TURN: Micah Owings' first postseason start for the Diamondbacks won't be his first appearance in the playoffs.
Owings, one of the best hitting pitchers in the majors, pinch-hit in Arizona's 3-2 loss to Colorado in Game 2 of the NL championship series and flied out to center. The rookie right-hander is scheduled to pitch against the Rockies for the first time in Monday night's Game 4.
Owings, the fourth starter in Arizona's playoff rotation, didn't pitch in the division series because the Diamondbacks swept the Chicago Cubs in three games.
He was scheduled to pitch Sept. 28 at Colorado, but the previous day in rainy Pittsburgh, manager Bob Melvin told him just a couple of hours before the first pitch that he would replace Brandon Webb as the starter against the Pirates.
Owings went on to throw 6 1-3 scoreless innings in an 8-0 victory. He also went 4-for-4 at the plate with three doubles and three RBIs. He became the first pitcher since Whitey Ford in 1953 to have two four-hit games in a season.
Webb beat the Rockies 4-2 on Sept. 28, the only loss for Colorado in 20 games going into Sunday night's contest. With an iffy weather forecast for Denver, there was a chance Owings could be sidelined again if there was a rainout that would allow Webb to pitch Game 4 on his normal rest.
Owings wasn't worried about the weather.
``Any time I get out there, I love this game,'' he said. ``It's what I've been blessed to do, so when I get the opportunity to do it, I'm going to take full advantage of it.''
Owings was drafted by the Rockies out of high school but chose instead to go to college.