When the Arizona Diamondbacks return to Chase Field on Tuesday for Game Three of the National League Division Series, it will be a do-or-die situation after a disappointing weekend in Milwaukee. While every other team in the 2011 playoffs split over the weekend, the D-Backs were swept and now find themselves in the position of having to win three in a row to advance to the NL Champion Series.
On Saturday, they were held down by the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo, who outdueled Ian Kennedy in a 4-1 loss. And on Sunday, after getting to Zack Greinke and tying the score 4-4, the NL Central champs responded with a five-run sixth inning in which they chased starter Daniel Hudson and scored four runs against Brad Ziegler, who failed to record an out in the sixth. By the time the D-Backs had stopped the bleeding, they were down 9-4 and would be shut out the rest of the way.
That puts the season in the hands of rookie Josh Collmenter, who is scheduled to pitch for the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night at Chase. Collmenter has been excellent in this first year in the big leagues, going 10-10 and recording a 3.38 earned-run average. The Brewers will counter with Shaun Marcum, who went 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA but was stellar on the road. In 16 road starts, Marcum was 8-3 with a 2.21 ERA.
On Saturday, the D-Backs simply couldn't get anything going against Gallardo after blasting out of the gate in the first inning with a single and stolen base by Willie Bloomquist, and then another single by Justin Upton. Bloomquist tried to score on Upton's single but was thrown out by a wide margin by Ryan Braun, who is known much more for his bat than his arm in left field. After that play, the D-Back offense was completely shut down by Gallardo, who struck out nine Arizona hitters and made only mistake the rest of the game, a solo homer by Ryan Roberts in the eighth.
Kennedy had kept the D-Backs in the game, pitching six strong innings before giving up a double to Braun in the seventh and then a two-run home run to Prince Fielder, whose blast made it 4-0. But the Brewers, who had the best home record in the major leagues (57-24) during the regular season, were not fazed by the Roberts solo shot and shut down the D-Backs the rest of way to take the pivotal first game in this best-of-five series.
On Sunday, Braun opened the scoring in the first inning with a two-run blast off Hudson. D-Backs rookie Paul Goldschmidt, starting in place of Lyle Overbay at first place, answered with a solo shot in the second. It was Braun and Fielder again (along with Rickie Weeks) who inflicted some damage in the third inning to make the score 4-1.
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The D-Backs answered back with home runs by Chris Young and Justin Upton in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. But the wheels came off for the D-Backs in the bottom of the sixth after a double, balk, and throwing error by Ziegler. In the end, the Brewers would score five runs. Three more Brewer pitchers would combine for three shutout innings of relief, and Milwaukee would walk away with the 9-4 win.
In the end, the D-Backs would go 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and now the team finds itself in an 0-2 hole and looking for a rookie to force a Game Four, which also would be played at Chase Field.
First pitch on Tuesday is at 6:37. TV: TNT. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.dbacks.com.